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Republican deficit hawks come off endangered species list


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W. James Antle III

July 31, 2020

A rare bird thought to be headed toward extinction has been spotted in Washington: the deficit hawk.

Fiscal conservatives are balking at the price tag of the latest coronavirus economic rescue package, likely to exceed $1 trillion even if they get their way. Though only one of the sticking points that has held up the legislation, it exposes a debate within the Republican Party about how to help the lockdown-battered economy ahead of the election and raises the likelihood that conservatives will return to that old-time religion on government spending and debt if Joe Biden wins in November.

A new spending package could push the annual federal budget deficit past $4 trillion. It was already projected at $2.7 trillion before the latest talks. Last month, the federal government spent $1.1 trillion. That’s more than it has spent in some years. The previous highest monthly total was less than $440 billion.

“Members are anxious because they know, at some point, we are going to have to raise taxes to pay for all this spending,” said Republican strategist John Feehery. “And many members simply believe that more spending leads to more government, which is bad for America and for the American way of life.”


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