Emmer, Paulsen, and Lewis decide the deficit isn't so important after all

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U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer didn't want to spend on hurricane disaster relief because of the national debt. Now he's willing to blow it up for corporate tax cuts. Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

Minnesota's three Republican congressmen -- Tom Emmer, Jason Lewis, and Erik Paulsen -- share an essential creed. Americans are being overtaxed. Government spending is out of control. And the national debt -- now at $20 trillion -- is an outrage.

Paulsen has called the debt the "single biggest threat to national security."

Lewis vowed in May to "protect our children’s future from Washington’s unsustainable and reckless spending ... by funding programs that actually work for Americans and making sensible reforms to tackle the debt."

In fact, paying down the debt is so important to both him and Emmer, both voted against spending on hurricane disaster relief. That's the definition of sticking to your principles.

So on Thursday, Minnesota's Republican delegation started chipping away at government spending by cleaning up the little guy's frivolous expenditures -- stuff like health care, Social Security, and education. They voted to approve a Senate Republican budget that slashes Medicare by nearly $500 billion, Medicaid by more than $1 trillion, food stamps by $140 billion, and student loan assistance by $200 billion.

That will allow them to cut taxes. Passing the budget triggered a legislative maneuver to usher a GOP tax reform bill through the Senate. Instead of the 60 votes needed to shut down a Democratic filibuster, Republicans will now need just 51 to pass their cuts. They're expansive, as promised, and most everybody's going to get some.

The 1 percent gets served first, of course. The wealthiest Minnesotans will receive 62 percent of the state's tax cuts next year for an average of $66,000, according to the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Middle-class Minnesotans get 7 percent of cuts, or an average of $370. 

Unfortunately, this presents a new problem. All those tax cuts are going to inflate the national debt by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. 

One way to make some money back is to eliminate the federal State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction, which helps nearly a third of all taxpaying Americans, i.e. the middle class. There's been some contention in the GOP on this point, leading 20 House Republicans to defect in Thursday's vote at the prospect of screwing over too many of their constituents.

Not so for Minnesota's iron-willed Republican congressmen.

 


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