Wary of the cost of surging federal spending to combat the coronavirus crisis, senior Trump administration officials are looking at ways to reduce the additional debt created by any future stimulus, The Washington Post reports, adding that President Trump isn’t likely to go along:
“The concerns about the deficit are coming from traditional conservatives at the White House, including new chief of staff Mark Meadows and acting budget director Russ Vought. But officials say they are likely to face much more skepticism from President Trump himself. Trump has shown little interest since becoming president in shrinking the deficit and has so far stood firm on his campaign pledge not to alter Social Security. … Meadows, who founded the conservative House ‘Freedom Caucus,’ has warned against an emergency relief package for the states, although he has told others in the White House Trump is unlikely to support deficit-limiting measures being considered and that the president is most focused on improving the economy.”
The Post says that some White House officials have explored options such as automatic spending cuts once the economy recovers or letting workers receive Social Security benefits before they become eligible. Other ideas reportedly being explored by White House officials include two plans that would allow Americans to receive payments now in exchange for delayed or reduced Social Security benefits.
A White House spokesperson told the Post that Trump would not support any proposal that cuts benefits.
Why it matters: These ideas aren’t likely to go anywhere, officials tell the Post, but the discussions themselves are an indication of how troubled some administration officials are with the massive coronavirus spending. Jason Pye, vice president of legislative affairs at FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group, told the Post: “A lot of people in the administration are concerned Republicans have completely surrendered the argument on spending, and they want to address it. And it’s an entirely valid concern.”
At the same time, the discussions may be a tacit acknowledgment that additional coronavirus relief is likely necessary, as many economists insist, even as Trump as top Republicans say they’re in no rush to pass the next stimulus package.