Rep. Seth Moulton: $1.9 Trillion Added to Deficit Because of Tax Cut Law Could Pay for 220 Entire Border Walls

By Melanie Arter | March 12, 2019 | 2:24pm EDT
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) (Screenshot)

( – Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, said Tuesday that the $1.9 trillion that President Donald Trump has added to the budget deficit through the tax cut law is enough to pay for 220 border walls.

During a House Budget Committee, Moulton questioned acting White House Budget Director Russell Vought on the federal deficit and the effects of the Republican tax law.


“I want to share a quote from a prominent politician who talked about endless deficits and said that they would ‘weigh the country down like an anchor” and that ‘we are on the verge of a debt crisis.’ Do you know who said that? It was Speaker Paul Ryan. In 2013, he was commenting on the Obama administration in the midst of the fourth straight year of reducing the federal deficit as a percentage of GDP. In reality, how much have the deficits and the debt exploded due to the Republican tax law?” Moulton asked.



VOUGHT: Deficits have certainly worsened in the first two years, but over 10 years, we believe that deficits will improve and that as a result of the tax cut in the overall economic---

MOULTON: You believe that deficits will improve? That’s interesting, because OMB has consistently revised up its estimates since the tax law has passed for how big the deficits will be. Is that true?

VOUGHT: Our economic program over the life of 10 years---

MOULTON: Is that true that you have revised up your deficit estimate since the tax law was passed?

VOUGHT: Our estimates have been revised to account for the fact that the tax cut in the short term has led to—

MOULTON: So they’ve been revised up, is that correct?

VOUGHT: In the short-term, but not—

MOULTON: Yes, they’ve been revised up. Thank you. So $1.9 trillion is the estimate that we have over 10 years. That’s the estimate that you’ve produced. I’m just curious. How many of Mr. Trump’s $8.6 billion walls could he build with $1.9 trillion?

VOUGHT: I haven’t done the math on that, sir.

MOULTON: It’s more than 220 – 220. Not 220 miles, 220 of his full walls. Now just to compare that to some Democrat priorities. What do you think $1.9 trillion would do for education funding in the United States? Would that make a difference in our kids’ lives?

VOUGHT: We believe this budget fully funds what is necessary to educate our children. We have $50 billion—

MOULTON: So that we can continue falling behind South Korea, China, other competitors around the world in our education standards? Is that what you would like to continue, Mr. Vought?

VOUGHT: That’s one of the reasons we are putting forward a different type of proposal. We have $50 billion in school choice tax credits that can be done at both the public level and the private level. It’s a paradigm shift that we think is important. We don’t think that—

MOULTON: But $1.9 trillion devoted to education. That wouldn’t be important?

VOUGHT: We believe that we need to fund the education programs that work, that are efficient, that lead to student outcomes that are beneficial, and we also think it’s important to look at different ways to be able to invest in our children. We do not believe that a dollar spent necessarily equates with a dollar---

MOULTON: Oh, I agree with you Mr. Vought, there’s no debate there.

VOUGHT: But it’s a matter of who’s doing the spending. Our view is that parents and families, states and localities can often do a better job of educating our children.

MOULTON: Sometimes they can, but $1.9 trillion wouldn’t help? Would it help?

VOUGHT: We believe we are fully funding what’s necessary to educate our children—

MOULTON: That’s all. It wouldn’t help. How many years did President Trump claim it would take to eliminate the national debt under his program?

VOUGHT: The president made a commitment to the American people to get our fiscal house in order and start a conversation--

MOULTON: How many years did he say? You work for him, Mr. Vought. How many years did he say?

VOUGHT: He said he would work on getting a fiscal plan within eight years.

MOULTON: Eight years, right. Eight years – 2017 to 2024. How high does the CBO project the budget deficit to be in 2024 at the end of those eight years?

VOUGHT: We will still be looking at trillion dollar deficits.


Moulton then criticized the budget proposal for rounding disabled veterans’ cost-of-living increases downward – a decision that the congressman said runs counter to what the president said about veterans in a statement on the budget proposal.


MOULTON: Over a trillion dollars, over a trillion dollars. Surpassing the federal deficit during President Obama's last year in office by nearly $500 billion. I want to jump quickly to veterans. The budget quotes President Trump’s statement that ‘it is our moral and solemn obligation to demonstrate to our veterans our continuing gratitude, unwavering support, and meaningful encouragement. Mr. Vought, how is cutting veterans’ disability benefits by rounding down cost-of-living increases consistent with this statement? Should we be making veterans pay for exploding deficits by denying them the full cost-of-living adjustments?

VOUGHT: Sir, this budget has incredibly high increases for veteran spending. We have an eight—

MOULTON: Then why are decreasing the cost of—Do you think the cost of living in the United States is going down for veterans?

VOUGHT: We have an eight percent increase for veteran spending. We fully—

MOULTON: I’m just asking why you’re decreasing cost-of-living adjustments.

VOUGHT: We look for ways to improve programs to ensure that veterans’ programs over 10 years==

MOULTON: So it will improve lives for veterans by increasing their cost-of-living adjustment? That’s what you’re saying, Mr. Vought?

VOUGHT: There are proposals that have been proposed in the past, and we don’t think they’ll have any adverse impact on veterans.

MOULTON: No adverse impact. No adverse impact to decrease cost-of-living adjustments.

VOUGHT: That’s correct.

MOULTON: I think you need to speak to some veterans, Mr. Vought.


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