While no one in the administration is advocating immediate cuts, the unease among senior Trump advisers about federal spending comes as the White House halts talks with Congress on additional emergency measures to rescue a U.S. economy facing its worst crisis in generations.
Some White House officials have gone as far as exploring policies such as automatic spending cuts as the economy improves, or prepaying Social Security benefits to workers before they become eligible, although these measures are unlikely to advance given the political stakes, said these officials and advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of internal deliberations.
The concerns about the deficit are coming from traditional conservatives at the White House, including new chief of staff Mark Meadows and acting budget director Russ Vought. But officials say they are likely to face much more skepticism from President Trump himself. Trump has shown little interest since becoming president in shrinking the deficit and has so far stood firm on his campaign pledge not to alter Social Security.