August 01, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) released the following statement after voting in favor of a bipartisan budget agreement which passed the Senate by a vote of 67 to 28:
“I have deep concerns about the rapidly growing national debt, and the terrible burden it passes on to our children, but this bipartisan agreement isn’t to blame for our predicament – especially as it sustains America’s full faith and credit,” said Senator King. “In fact, America’s federal spending as a percentage of GDP is currently in line with the 60-year average; it’s our revenue that has sharply decreased due to tax breaks for the nation’s richest individuals and corporations. Anyone who tells you that the only solution is to cut spending is ignoring decades worth of data showing the government’s role in our society – and by doing so, they are threatening to eliminate vital programs that make a real difference in the lives of working Americans and ensure our national security.
“It frustrates me that many of the voices criticizing this legislation for not slashing funding for critical services are the same ones who were the loudest supporters of the December 2017 tax bill, which cut taxes for the richest among us and left future generations to pay for it– an about-face which I predicted during the debate of that legislation. We need to reduce our national debt, but it can’t come by balancing the budget on the backs of Maine people or sacrificing the safety of the American people while the wealthy few get to benefit from yet another tax break – that’s why I voted for today’s agreement."
Senator King, who was named a 2016 ‘Fiscal Hero’ by the nonpartisan Campaign to Fix the Debt, was among the most vocal critics of the 2017 tax legislation for its potential impact on the national debt. He introduced an amendment prior to passage that would instruct a Senate committee to create a deficit-neutral version of the legislation, and a motion after passage that would have required the conference committee to return a version of the tax legislation which did not increase the deficit; both provisions were defeated on party lines.
In November 2017, while speaking on the Senate floor in support of his amendment, Senator King predicted that proponents of the legislation would soon express concerns about the national debt, stating, “Now I’ve been around public life and politics for a long time, and I’ve heard a lot about deficits, and people are concerned about deficits – until today! The deficit doesn’t seem to be a big deal anymore. I predict that after this bill passes, within a couple of years when the deficits start to mount up, the same people who are voting for this bill today are going to say, ‘Oh my goodness, we have these huge deficits, what are we going to do? I think we have to cut entitlements, we have to cut Social Security, we have to cut Medicare and certainly we have to cut all those domestic programs.’ Well, I don’t think that’s right…”
Budget Chart 1: Federal Spending as a Percentage of GDP
Budget Chart 2: Effect of Tax Cuts on Deficit