Democratic 2020 hopeful blasts GOP for 'fiscal hypocrisy'

Democratic Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocratic donors stuck in shopping phase of primary Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — CDC blames e-cigs for rise in youth tobacco use | FDA cracks down on dietary supplements | More drug pricing hearings on tap The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - Next 24 hours critical for stalled funding talks MORE (Colo.), who is mulling a presidential bid, on Sunday slammed Republicans for “fiscal hypocrisy” after they criticized former President Obama for deficits but then passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut under President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE.

Bennet on NBC’s “Meet the Press” took aim at White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump declares national emergency at border Puerto Rico governor threatens legal action over national emergency declaration: 'See you in court' Trump to sign border deal, declare national emergency MORE, who was a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus when he served in Congress before joining the Trump administration. 

He said Mulvaney was “one of the people in the Freedom Caucus who tortured President Obama over and over and over again, calling him a Bolshevik and a socialist and all this stuff.”

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The federal deficit dipped to $485 billion, $438 billion and $585 billion during Obama’s final three years in office but has jumped under Trump, due largely to the tax reform package and spending deal the president signed into law when Republicans controlled Congress.

The Congressional Budget Office projects the deficit to hit $897 billion in 2019 and $903 billion in 2020.

“A Republican president, a Republican Senate, a Republican House, the fiscal hypocrisy is unbelievable,” Bennet said. 

He made his comment when asked about the ambitious calls by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Constitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency Poll: Sanders, Biden seen as most popular second choices in Dem primary MORE (D-Mass.) and other liberals to invest more in health care, education, infrastructure and workforce training.

Bennet said “I totally agree with” Warren’s criticism that the benefits of Trump’s tax package go disproportionately to the wealthy but said that public policy leaders need to be realistic about what’s feasible given the country’s fiscal situation.

“The question is — how are we going to make these investments in a way that the solutions will actually endure?” he said.

Bennet raised concerns about "Medicare for all" legislation, which has the support of liberal White House hopefuls such as Warren, Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration Poll: Sanders, Biden seen as most popular second choices in Dem primary MORE (I-Vt.), Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Constitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Dems blast rulemaking on family planning program | Facebook may remove anti-vaccine content | Medicare proposes coverage for new cancer treatment MORE (D-Calif.) and Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Trump tweets video mocking Dems not cheering during State of the Union Former Virginia Gov McAuliffe writes book about confronting white nationalism MORE (D-N.J.). 

Bennet said taking private health insurance away from 180 million Americans, as Harris recently proposed during a CNN town hall, “seems like a bad opening offer for me.”

“Remember when President Obama said, ‘If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance.' And then a few people in America actually lost their insurance because of the way that the plan worked. Now what the Democrats are saying is, ‘If you like your insurance, we’re going to take it away from you,’ ” he said.

Bennet became an internet sensation last month when he excoriated Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPoll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again Democrats veer left as Trump cements hold on Republicans O’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation MORE (R-Texas) on the Senate floor for hypocrisy after Cruz, who played a prominent role in provoking a 16-day government shutdown in 2013, chastised Democrats for not doing more to end the most recent partial government shutdown.

“These crocodile tears that the senator from Texas is crying for first responders are too hard for me to take. They’re too hard for me to take because when the senator from Texas shut this government down in 2013 my state was flooded. It was underwater. People were killed. People’s houses were destroyed,” the usually even-tempered Bennet said on the floor, his voice rising to a furious shout.

His unexpected passion quickly grabbed the media’s attention and raised his profile as a possible White House aspirant.

— Updated 12:17 p.m.