Democratic 2020 hopeful blasts GOP for 'fiscal hypocrisy'

Democratic Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetLawmakers can't reconcile weakening the SALT cap with progressive goals How Sen. Graham can help fix the labor shortage with commonsense immigration reform For true American prosperity, make the child tax credit permanent 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 TrumpSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Gosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate MORE.

Bennet on NBC’s “Meet the Press” took aim at White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' 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 WarrenCalifornia Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election Pelosi disputes Biden's power to forgive student loans Warren hits the airwaves for Newsom ahead of recall election 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 SandersBernie SandersSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Bipartisan infrastructure win shows Democrats must continue working across the aisle 'The land is us' — Tribal activist turns from Keystone XL to Line 3 MORE (I-Vt.), Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - CDC equates Delta to chickenpox in contagiousness Harris's bad polls trigger Democratic worries Why in the world are White House reporters being told to mask up again? MORE (D-Calif.) and Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerWomen urge tech giants to innovate on office return Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines 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 CruzUp next in the culture wars: Adding women to the draft Biden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet 228 Republican lawmakers urge Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade 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.