Senate Republicans showcase rank hypocrisy as they vocally oppose President Biden’s widely popular COVID-19 relief bill in the name of the deficit despite blowing debt up for billionaires and corporations by supporting the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017

As the American people continue to suffer from the ongoing health and economic crises, the same senators who blew up the deficit are now using it as an excuse to object to relief for hardworking families

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Senate is set to begin voting on the American Rescue Plan, President Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package aimed at getting desperately needed aid to families and communities that are struggling from the pandemic. From the outset, Senate Republicans have opposed the bill by feigning concern over the legislation’s price tag. Today’s testimonies and subsequent vote will likely possess the same performative complaints.

The hypocrisy could not be more glaring. The same Senate Republicans who have and will continue to hurl insults at President Biden’s widely popular plan have only recently rediscovered their concerns about the national debt and deficit, even though they have repeatedly shown they are happy to explode the debt when it serves their special interests.

“Why is it that Republicans in the Senate can rationalize blowing up the deficit in order to provide tax write-offs for private jet buyers but kick and scream at the thought of passing robust financial aid to the struggling Americans hit hardest by the pandemic?” said Mairead Lynn, spokesperson for the Accountable Senate War Room. “It might have something to do with the fact that Americans who are housing-insecure, food-insecure, unemployed, and hurting aren’t the ones writing campaign checks for GOP senators — it’s the corporations, big businesses, and ultra-wealthy that line these senators’ wallets, and that’s who they’ll continue advocating for.”

In 2017, 51 Republican senators rushed to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which disproportionately benefited the ultra-wealthy and corporations — the bill also added $1.8 trillion to the national debt. At the time, many Republican senators defended their support of the bill by falsely claiming it would be deficit-neutral — some even waved away debt concerns altogether, claiming the benefits to the economy would outweigh the cost. Analysis shows the bill neither paid for itself, nor did it provide the permanent boost to the economy that Republicans promised. 

It’s important to note that these deficit increases didn’t stem from putting food back on the tables and roofs over the heads of struggling Americans; they flowed into the pockets of the already rich. In fact, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act provided a tax write-off for private jets buyers, doubled the number of companies paying zero in federal taxes, and gave corporations a permanent tax cut while individual tax cuts are set to expire in 2025.

Below are highlights from Accountable Senate War Room’s research on GOP senators’ newfound concern over the national debt:

51 Senate Republicans supported the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) which would add $1.8 trillion in debt and disproportionately benefited the ultra-wealthy.

  • TCJA provided a tax write off for private jet buyers, helped double the number of companies paying zero in federal taxes, and gave corporations a permanent tax cut while individual tax cuts are set to expire in 2025
  • 51 GOP senators voted for the TCJA, and many defended their support of the bill by falsely claiming the bill would be deficit-neutral and even waving away debt concerns altogether.

    • Senator Mitch McConnell projected the tax bill would “be beyond revenue neutral,” producing enough revenue to fill the gap and then some
    • Senator Roy Blunt said he was okay with short-term deficits to finance tax cuts, saying they would be worth it in the long run
    • Senator Tim Scott accused the Joint Committee on Taxation of “consistently underestimating” new economic activity from the tax cut bill.

Before the pandemic hit in the U.S., Trump signed $4.7 trillion of debt into law.

  • As Of January 2020, Trump Signed $4.7 Trillion Of Debt Into Law “From 2017 Through 2029.” “During the 2016 campaign, we estimated then-candidate Trump’s campaign plans would add $5.3 trillion to the debt from 2017 to 2026 (assuming policies were enacted immediately). In this analysis, we show that President Trump has already signed into law $4.2 trillion of debt over a comparable budget window and $4.7 trillion from 2017 through 2029.” [Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, 01/08/20

But after Biden was elected, GOP senators began calling for debt reduction to be a priority in 2021.

  • On December 30, 2020, Sen. Ron Johnson Claimed In Op-Ed That “Since I Arrived In Congress In 2011, Federal Debt Has Almost Doubled” And “Unfortunately, Few In Congress Seem To Care.” “Since I arrived in Congress in 2011, federal debt has almost doubled, from nearly $15 trillion to more than $27.5 trillion. The passage of $900 billion in additional relief, combined with a $1 trillion projected deficit for fiscal 2021, will increase federal debt to over $29 trillion. Unfortunately, few in Congress seem to care.” [USA Today, 12/30/20]
  • Just After Thanksgiving 2020, Sen. John Thune Said “‘I Think Spending, Entitlement Reform, Growth And The Economy Are All Things That We’re Going To Have To Be Focused On Next Year.’” “‘I think spending, entitlement reform, growth and the economy are all things that we’re going to have to be focused on next year, and, yeah, I would expect you’ll hear a lot more about that,’ Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the GOP Senate leadership team, told the Hill just after Thanksgiving.” [Los Angeles Times, 01/04/20]
  • November 2020: Senator Graham Said, If He Becomes Budget Chairman, He Would Like To Create Dialogue About “Finally” Addressing The Debt. “Senate committee talk from Graham: If we keep the Senate which I think we will and I become Budget chairman. I’d like to create a dialogue about how can we finally begin to address the debt.” [Twitter – @ReporterCioffi, 11/6/20]
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham Said “We’ve Got To Understand That We’re Going To Be Raising The Debt Ceiling In Perpetuity If We Don’t Find A Way To Bend The Curve,’” Meaning Institute “Spending Cuts.” “Thune’s words were reinforced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is expected to become chairman of the Senate Budget Committee if the chamber remains in Republican hands. ‘We’ve got to understand that we’re going to be raising the debt ceiling in perpetuity if we don’t find a way to bend the curve,’ Graham said. It should be obvious that ‘bend the curve’ is code for spending cuts, and in the GOP playbook, that means cutting programs that serve the middle class and working class in their times of need, such as Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps and other forms of assistance.” [Los Angeles Times, 12/04/20]


back to top