Rep. Matt Gaetz was confronted Sunday about his vote for former President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts that drove up the federal deficit.
Congress voted last week to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his leadership post after Gaetz, a Florida Republican, filed a petition to vacate the post – plunging the House into chaos. He filed a motion that McCarthy work with Democrats to pass a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown that he said violates McCarthy’s promise to conservatives to enlist their support in the House speaker race to be secured in January.
Gaetz has insisted that Congress pass a budget bill that would reduce government spending, warning that it would have an economic impact on millions of Americans if the federal deficit, which stands at more than $30 trillion, is not addressed becomes.
During an interview on NBC News Meet the press, Host Kristen Welker pressed Gaetz about his vote for the Trump tax cuts, the law signed by the former president that will add $1.8 trillion to the national debt by 2029, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
During his interview, Gaetz defended his fight against Republican Party leadership and questioned whether he could be expelled from the Republican Conference over McCarthy’s ouster. He said he would continue to fight for his voters and warned that unless government spending was reduced, inflation and the national debt would soar. He specifically pointed to a federal government plan to refinance $8 trillion in debt.
“Well, the voters of Florida’s 1st Congressional District sent me here with about 70 percent of the vote. So I think anyone who tries to kick me out of Congress because they don’t like me would have a bone to pick with them. But think about what we say. I’m the guy who says we need a budget,” he said.
However, Welker questioned the MP’s voting record on the national debt.
“Congressman, you voted for the tax cuts under the Trump administration that helped create the $8 trillion deficit you speak of. Is that not correct? Isn’t that, as some of your critics would say, hypocritical when you think about it?” Welker asked.
Gaetz responded: “No, I voted against ten continuing resolutions during the Trump era. I actually voted against the budget that created the platform to reconcile these tax cuts because it wasn’t balanced. “I agreed with Senator Rand Paul at the time that we should achieve tax cuts with offsets and balanced budgets.”
Although Republicans have emphasized the need to reduce the national debt during the Biden administration, it increased by nearly $7.8 trillion during the Trump administration. In particular, the former president’s reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent resulted in a loss of federal revenue, according to a 2021 ProPublica report.
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report earlier this year concluded that extending Trump’s tax cuts would add an additional $3.5 trillion to the federal deficit by 2033.
Newsweek Gaetz’s office emailed for comment