In Oklahoma, a Freshman Republican Makes the Case for Deep Spending Cuts

So it is perhaps not surprising that Mr. Brecheen frames his message on spending cuts, at least in part, in the language of the aggrieved right. It is a tactic that has been adopted by Republicans at the highest levels to defend their position in the fiscal battles to come. And it is part of a broader shift in the party led by former President Donald J. Trump, who eschewed entitlement reform — one of the key tenets of fiscal conservatism — but leaned heavily into the cultural grievances of the Republican base.

With Mr. McCarthy vowing not to touch Social Security or Medicare as part of the drive to slash the federal budget, and with tax increases also off the table, Republicans have set their focus on cutting spending, including foreign aid, that they argue fuels an out-of-control bureaucracy advancing a liberal ideology.

Russ Vought, the president of the arch-conservative Center for Renewing America and a former budget director under the Trump administration, has put forward a budget plan focused on slashing what he calls “the spending that is the easiest to cut practically and morally because it is funding the bureaucracies arrayed against the public.” His budget would eliminate the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Pentagon, zero out foreign aid bolstering L.G.B.T.Q. activist communities in repressive nations, and slash $3.4 billion for migration and refugee assistance.

“That’s the debate that I want to have,” Mr. Vought said in an interview.

It is the kind of debate that might interest the voters who attended the events in Mr. Brecheen’s district, most of them more focused on complaints about the Biden administration than on spending.

Over the course of four events, only a few constituents raised their hands to engage on the issue of the national debt. One, who described herself as the lone Democrat in the room, asked Mr. Brecheen if he would support taxing the nation’s very richest citizens — “the billionaire, trillionaires,” she said — to help shore up Social Security and Medicare.

Mr. Brecheen demurred, replying that he favored a flat tax and believed raising the Social Security eligibility age to account for rising life expectancy would be “reasonable.”

Another, a young man, urged other attendees to support Mr. Brecheen in a game of debt brinkmanship, even if it prompted their retirement savings plans to plummet in value and “all of your security interests are flashing red.”


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