Dem lawmaker: GOP deliberately increased deficits through tax cuts in order to cut social programs

Rep. John Yarmuth, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, accused Republicans Friday of deliberately inflating federal budget deficits through their tax cuts in order to increase public support for reductions to social safety net programs.

In an interview with “Rising,” Hill.TV’s morning news show, the Kentucky congressman said that his Republican rivals continually push for “deep tax cuts that benefit mostly the wealthiest Americans and corporations and then scream about the deficits that are being created.”

The GOP then uses concern about deficits to “go after Medicare and Medicaid and programs that help middle Americans and struggling Americans,” he asserted.

Yarmuth made his remarks in reference to the federal budget resolution that passed the budget committee on Thursday in a party-line vote.

{mosads}”That’s exactly what this budget does. Two trillion dollars worth of cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and other health programs,” he said. “Funding levels for almost all the non-defense, discretionary part of the budget that go back 20 years.”

Despite these spending reductions, Yarmuth said, the GOP budget will increase the national debt by $5 trillion over the next 10 years.

While charging that the GOP “always” followed this fiscal strategy, Yarmuth singled out Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for particular blame.

“This really goes back to Paul Ryan when he was chairman of the budget committee. He put forth the Ryan budget, which, when he was running for vice president, Mitt Romney had to disavow because it was so unpopular.”

On Thursday, Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), the committee’s chairman, raised concern about the national debt in his opening statement for the two-day budget markup process.

“The largest looming shadow of doubt on America’s future is, quite simply, the extent of the nation’s debt,” he said.

In his interview with Hill.TV, Yarmuth said that he wanted Republicans to focus on increasing federal revenues in addition to promoting spending reductions.

“The budget doesn’t just have one side. That there is a revenue side and there’s an expenditure side. The Republicans want to deal only with the spending side. And they never want to touch the revenue side except to reduce it.”

According to Yarmuth, Republicans should consider eliminating or scaling back some federal tax deduction programs, including the home mortgage deduction, if they are serious about reducing the national debt. He also cited a 2013 report from the Congressional Budget Office which estimated that granting legal status to currently undocumented immigrants would increase federal revenues since many such workers do not pay income taxes in order to avoid contact with law enforcement.

—Matthew Sheffield

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