The centrist New Democrat Coalition, a group of fiscally conservative House Democrats in Washington, says the coronavirus is putting aside concerns about the ballooning federal deficit. However, Utah Democrat Ben McAdams, a member of the group, says he disagrees with that approach.
NBC News reports leaders of the group have signaled that worries about federal spending may not drive their decision making in the next Congress if they retain the majority in the House and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins the White House.
"This is an emergency. And getting bogged down in trying to identify offsets is not appropriate in an emergency," Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., the chair of the centrist New Democrat Coalition, told reporters on a conference call Monday.
Centrist Democrats have exercised more leverage when their own party controls the White House and previously used their clout to reduce budget deficits. But with an ongoing health and economic crisis, Biden could move quickly to enact expensive proposals while the moderates in his party remain open to increasing the national debt.
Kilmer said the coalition is determined to solve problems "in a fiscally responsible way," but that fiscal hawks agree on the need for new spending to address the "largest public health crisis over the course of modern history" and "the largest economic disruption since the Great Depression."
Utah Democrat Ben McAdams, who is the co-chair for the group's Housing Task Force, says the unprecedented nature of the current health crisis does not mean the solution is for Congress to simply throw money at the problem, and they need to address the situation in a fiscally responsible way.
"The House, Senate and the President agree that responding to this crisis requires a level of federal investment. Some people worry whether we are spending too little to get us through this crisis. I’m also worried that we could spend too much," he said in an email statement to UtahPolicy.com.
McAdams added he will remain focused on the federal deficit no matter who is in the White House.
"As an economic conservative, I am very concerned about the unprecedented spending and debt we are passing along to our kids and grandkids. The problem is, whether Republican or Democrat, the party in charge doesn’t give a damn about the deficit until they lose power. That needs to change. No matter who is President I will be a voice against endless deficit spending and fight to get our fiscal house in order," he said.