Oct 27, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Ted Cruz defends GOP's expected return to prioritizing national debt

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told "Axios on HBO" on Monday that he wishes reining in the national debt was a higher priority for President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to reduce the national debt and eliminate it entirely within eight years, though he also deemed himself "the king of debt" and said there were some priorities that required spending. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion.

The big picture: Former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, a notorious deficit hawk while in Congress, said in February that the GOP "is very interested in deficits when there is a Democrat in the White House ... Then Donald Trump became president, and we're a lot less interested as a party."

  • Cruz acknowledged that Republicans would likely "rediscover" their concern about debts and deficits, but insisted that it's always been a priority for him. He argued that while the 2017 Republican tax cut contributed significantly to the debt, pro-growth policies are also key to reducing deficits.
  • "You're touching into something that, as you know, I have raged against," Cruz told Axios' Jonathan Swan. "And I have raged against my own party not genuinely fighting to rein in spending and deficits and debt."

Key excerpt:

SWAN: "You belong to a party that has green-lit a historic expansion of deficits and debt. And it's just a plain fact."
CRUZ: "Do I wish that it was a higher priority for the president to rein in spending and the debt? Yes. He didn't run, principally on reining in spending and deficit and debt. That's not what he promised to do. We had real differences between it — and you know what, the voters made a decision."
SWAN: "I will remind you he promised to eliminate the national debt in eight years. He literally promised that."

Go deeper: Where Trump stands on economic promises

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