U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, a Jacksonville Republican, is an enthusiastic defender of the agenda of President Donald Trump.
That held true during a press gaggle Monday in Jacksonville, in which Rutherford defended the continuing resolution to keep the government open, the tax reform bill that critics argue will disproportionately benefit corporations over the middle class, and suggested entitlement cuts down the road to offset a legislative commitment to increased deficit spending.
Asking Rutherford about these issues, reporters note that these measures look likely to pass debt onto future generations.
Rutherford asserted that CBO assumptions of 1.9 percent GDP growth over the next 10 years are probably low.
“They’re anticipating as high as four, four and a half,” Rutherford said. “Each point above 1.9 percent is $274 billion a year. If we’re just one point above, in three years we fill the trillion dollar hole created by the tax cut.”
Regarding the CR, Rutherford asserted that “if your house is being eaten up by termites and it’s on fire, which are you going to address first? Some things are more exigent than others.”
“One of the things that we have to do is address the hollowed-out military,” Rutherford said, noting that four times as many military members (89 to 22) died in training than in combat last year.
“Dying in training accidents,” said Rutherford, “because of a hollowed-out military. In that CR, we also managed to force the Democrats to give us two years of full funding for our military.”
Reporters also asked him where the country would get the money.
“Where it’s going to come from,” said Rutherford, “is when we get to the entitlements side of the budget, that’s where the bulk of the revenue is at; that’s where we’re going to have to cut and find ways to make that happen.”
“The bottom line is, your house is on fire and you’ve got to fix it,” Rutherford said.
We asked Rutherford if that was like putting a fifth mortgage on the said house.
“Well, look, I think that the — the first thing that we did was the tax bill. That is going to help because in three years we can balance that issue. The other seven years will burn down that national debt.”
Presented with the question of trillion-dollar deficits, an ambitious infrastructure proposal, and seeming “buy now, pay later” ethos, Rutherford asserted that he is a “fiscal conservative,” before offering another analogy.
“If I use my car to get to work, and my car breaks down, and I have to go into debt to fix my car, I’m going to fix my car because I have to get to work, that’s how I make my living,” Rutherford said.
“So yes, there are some times that we’ve got to invest and got to borrow to invest, and we’re doing that,” Rutherford said.
We then presented Rutherford with the Trump administration’s practice of weakening the dollar.
“The market goes up and the market goes down, I don’t want to get into all of that,” Rutherford contended. “I’m not trying to weaken the dollar. I’m trying to save lives.”
Rutherford is willing to weaken the dollar “temporarily.” He expects that the aforementioned entitlement cuts will strengthen the currency.
“A lot of entitlements we have waste, fraud, and abuse. They’re talking about $70 billion in waste and fraud,” Rutherford said.
“Look, you can cut entitlements by giving more people jobs … if you look at all the people who are able bodied and on Medicaid right now, if these folks get off of Medicaid and get back in the workforce, not only do they stop absorbing taxes, they start paying taxes,” Rutherford said.
“And it’s better for them.”