Hillary Clinton has proposed about $1 trillion in new government spending programs (over the next 10 years) so far in her campaign for president. That headline number isn't in dispute. It includes big new initiatives to expand child care and preschool access, reduce the cost of college and rebuild American infrastructure. The estimated costs of those programs add up to a bit over $1 trillion, and Republicans are already criticizing Clinton for that price tag.
In its most recent attack on that subject, though, the Republican National Committee goes further. It lumps Clinton's spending proposals with a series of (smaller) plans she has offered to reduce taxes, in the process of raising questions about her fiscal responsibility. "Clinton has yet to explain how she will pay for her proposals," the RNC writes, "except for vaguely worded promises of higher taxes."
It goes on to raise questions about several of Clinton's proposed tax credits, and also her support for repealing an Obamacare tax on "Cadillac" health plans -- a tax many Republicans also wish to scrap.
Clinton's campaign says she will pay for all her proposals, spending and tax cuts alike, and not add to the deficit. But she has not yet fully detailed how she'd do that.
That's also true, by the way, of many Republican candidates, who have offered aggressive tax-cutting plans that are projected to reduce tax receipts by trillions of dollars over a decade. Like Clinton, those Republicans usually say those losses will be offset, by a combination of (often undefined) spending cuts and increased economic growth.
By pairing Clinton's tax-cut proposals with her spending proposals, the RNC opened itself to the following attack from the Clinton campaign, as captured in a zingy back-and-forth on Twitter earlier this week:
We asked RNC spokesman Sean Spicer this week if including tax cuts under a "spending" banner was a shift for Republicans, who traditionally chafe at the comparison.
"It's not a change for us at all — its using the Clinton method of analysis on herself," Spicer wrote in an e-mail. "Clinton attacks GOP for tax cuts without plans to recoup revenue and/or cut spending to match it all the time, so these are programs she has no plan to pay for."
As some candidates are finding to their chagrin, voters don't seem to be too focused on fiscal accounting right now. That will probably change as the election progresses and attacks increase. It's a safe bet Democrats will keep complaining about tax cuts that aren't paid for. We'll see how long Republicans do it -- or whether they'll stick with the sizable spending proposals by themselves.