Texas Republicans preach fiscal restraint as the federal deficit balloons on their watch

Substantial deficit projections from the Joint Committee on Taxation, the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation and other independent experts did little to dampen Republicans’ enthusiasm late last year in passing big tax cuts for businesses and individuals alike.

Republicans remain adamant that those projections are overly pessimistic, with some making the case that the tax cuts are actually a way to help reduce the federal deficit in the long run.

“Economic growth is part of the solution, not part of the problem,” said Dallas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, a retiring deficit hawk.

Tax cuts are also central to GOP orthodoxy. The $1.3 trillion spending bill — and the two-year budget deal that paved the way for it — is another story.

The spending legislation, a bipartisan compromise, averted another government shutdown. It also shredded existing spending caps to boost everything from the military to border security to the arts to health programs to infrastructure.

Some Texas Republicans voted against what Sen. Ted Cruz called a “monstrosity.” Most supported it, citing a need to rebuild the armed forces.

“Planes are falling out of the sky. We have Navy ships crashing into commercial tankers because the guys on the bridge aren’t trained,” said Sugar Land Rep. Pete Olson, a Republican and Navy veteran. “It stops with getting training, and that takes money.”

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