Romney: Disingenuous to criticize Democrats after big spending under Trump

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said it is disingenuous for Republicans to criticize Democrats for plans to spend trillions of dollars after the GOP remained largely quiet about its deficit concerns under former President Trump.

“When we had a Republican president and House and Senate, we kept on spending massively and adding almost a trillion dollars a year to the national debt. Now we say this is outrageous adding so much to the debt? They say we did the same thing when we were in charge. It does show that you have to be consistent in your arguments,” Romney said on the “Utah Politics” podcast.

The remarks come as the GOP raises alarm over a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package being pushed by President Biden. Many Republicans, including Romney, say that price tag is too high, noting that Congress allocated $900 billion to tackle the pandemic late last year.

Democrats have claimed, however, that those worries fly in the face of a wave of spending during Trump’s administration, including in 2017 and 2018, when Republicans controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress. 

Democrats are taking the first step toward adopting Biden’s coronavirus package by using budget reconciliation, a process that would eat up floor time in the Senate but allow passage with a simple majority rather than the typical 60 votes that are needed to pass legislation. 

Republicans have said the process, which would effectively sideline the 50 GOP senators, would fail to live up to Biden’s calls for unity. But Romney noted that Republicans used the procedure to pass broad tax cuts in 2017.

“There’s no question that if you begin doing things which break precedent or break tradition, the other side is going to do that when they’re in charge,” he said. “When we’ve put a tax program on that basis that did not require any Democrat votes through reconciliation, we have a difficult time explaining why we’re not happy with what they would be doing at this stage.”

Romney is among a group of 10 GOP senators advocating for a smaller $618 billion coronavirus proposal. Biden in a call with Senate Democrats on Tuesday urged senators to “go big” and move quickly to pass a COVID-19 relief bill. Biden signaled he is open to some of the Republican senators’ ideas but told lawmakers his clear preference was for Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion package.

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