Laura Ingraham presses Pence on spending: 'Have you gone from a deficit hawk to a deficit dove?'

Story highlights

  • "Have you gone from a deficit hawk to a deficit dove?" Ingraham asked Pence.
  • On Tuesday, Trump proposed a massive increase in military spending and asked Congress for $1 trillion investment in infrastructure.

(CNN)Conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham pressed Vice President Mike Pence in an interview Wednesday on how the Trump administration would pay for all its proposed initiatives without adding to the federal deficit.

Ingraham, a Donald Trump supporter whose name was once floated as a potential candidate for White House press secretary, went as far as to ask Pence if he was no longer a hawk on the deficit as he had been during his tenure in Congress.
The exchange came after Trump outlined his priorities in a speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night. In the speech, Trump proposed a massive increase in military spending and asked Congress for $1 trillion investment in infrastructure.
In the interview with Pence on Wednesday, Ingraham said, "Back in 2010 you were described by many, including me, as a deficit hawk. That the way you saw government was that it was one of our sacred responsibilities not to pile future debt and big deficits on future generations. And yet in this budget that we're looking at -- at least the outlines of it --- the priorities the President struck last night, it's not clear how we're going to be trimming this deficit after we've had some success in doing so with these sequester cuts in previous years."
"Have you gone from a deficit hawk to a deficit dove?" she asked Pence.
"No, not in the least," Pence replied. "Let me say the President's full budget will be out in a few weeks. The budget outline that was sent to Capitol Hill earlier this week is deficit neutral."
Pence explained the need for an increase in military spending, and said Trump's view is that economic growth would reduce deficits and the debt.
"So is that how you'll pay for this -- you're going to pay for this additional spending you think through the additional tax revenues that are coming in?" Ingraham asked. "Because, again, I'm trying to make sure that the Republicans don't get themselves in that bind that they got themselves in, and you were there, Vice President Pence. I mean, you were cited by Reason Magazine, by all these other publications, and I wrote about it at the time.
"You were just among a few on Capitol Hill who were saying to the Bush administration 'watch what you're doing on this spending, this deficit spending is going to get you in a heap of trouble.' Then we went on to lose the midterm elections in 2006 and lose in 2008 because we lost our credibility on being deficit hawks and being really smart with money. And so, in the end, people have to believe that these numbers are really going to add up to a deficit-neutral stance."
Pence answered, "Well you're nice to remember all that and I'll tell you what, the President of the United States, as you heard him reflect last night on the tens of millions of dollars he saved taxpayers on the F-35 contract, he is demanding that our budget team and that Congress sharpen their pencils and make sure that we found our savings, but ultimately I truly do believe that meeting the obligations of today, dealing with that mountain range of debt, is all dependent on getting this economy moving again and the President's vision for rolling back excessive red tape and regulation -- which he's already been implementing -- cutting taxes, having smarter and tougher trade deals, and making the kinds of investments in infrastructure that will support jobs --"
"I just want to be very clear on this, Vice President Pence -- are you willing to go and run a deficit for a year or two to push these other infrastructure and military spending priorities forward?" she interjected.
"Well, I think it's important that the budget that we send is fiscally responsible and again that outline --- just so you're clear, Laura -- the outline the President sent to Capitol Hill this week has a historic increase in military spending, but all of those increases are offset by domestic cuts. Now there are a lot of people complaining --"
"Not going to want those cuts that's the problem, no one wants the cuts," Ingraham said.
"We're ready to have that fight," Pence said. "I think at the end of the day, repealing and replacing Obamacare -- which of course is a pathway toward reforming as Speaker Ryan said yesterday -- that's a pathway toward reforming Medicaid by allowing the states to have the resources and flexibilities to meet the needs of their most vulnerable citizens in new and innovative ways. All of that is a pathway toward prosperity, and prosperity is the pathway to fiscal solvency."