If Republicans really cared about deficits and debt — during the Obama years they claimed the big federal budget gap could spark another financial crisis — they could have flatly rejected any tax plan that reduced government revenue. To now count on entitlement reform to make up the difference is hardly a second-best solution. Messing with Medicare and Social Security is even more politically treacherous than the failed attempt to repeal ObamaCare, given the GOP’s dependence on older voters.
Moreover, President Trump has repeatedly put those programs off limits. Sure, White House economic adviser Gary Cohn recently said that reforming “welfare” could be on the agenda — but only after fixing regulation, taxes, and infrastructure. So more of a tomorrow thing, if ever, because nothing will likely happen without strong presidential leadership. And Donald “I’m the king of debt, I love debt” Trump has given little indication that he has evolved into a budget hawk. Finally, it is hardly likely that congressional Republicans will have more political power after the 2018 midterm elections than they do right now.