WASHINGTON -- Georgia's David Perdue has been one of Donald Trump's biggest boosters in Georgia and the U.S. Senate. The two have an awful lot in common, the freshman lawmaker likes to remind folks, including a business background and outsider credentials.
But a key area where the two men appear to differ is on the importance of deficit reduction.
Perdue has made it a central issue during his first two years in the Senate. He's known for railing against what he sees as D.C.'s interlocking debt and security crises in speeches on the Senate floor and he's proposed overhauling Capitol Hill's budget process as a first step in dealing with Washington's spending problem.
Trump, meanwhile, hasn't spoken much about the national debt. His plans to bolster the country's roads, bridges and national defense carry major price tags, as does his proposal for massive tax cuts. Without pay-fors to help offset the costs, those plans could lead to big deficits.
That puts Perdue, who promises to be a key Trump partner on Capitol Hill, in a tight political spot: defending his pal or full-throatedly endorsing one of the issues that helped him land his Senate seat.
“I for one, in the Senate, am planning to be a strong ally but I am also going to challenge where I have to relative to the debt," he said in a recent interview. For his part, Perdue said Trump "has a very serious eye on the debt."
Perdue voiced support for an infrastructure overhaul, which Trump has indicated will be a top priority in the new year. The Georgia freshman was particularly warm toward Trump's proposal to lure private investment as a way to help pay for the 10-year, $1 trillion plan.
“Yes, I’m concerned that we don’t take for granted the pay-fors, that we don’t take for granted the long-term implication on the debt," he said. "But in any turnaround that I was a part of we had to make certain investments to make the product or service healthy again and some of those took a little while to get a return."
Perdue said he'd be looking for a "return on investment" as part of any plan.
He overall struck an optimistic tone about Trump and his ability to break through the gridlock that has saddled Capitol Hill for years.
"The country is hopeful that because this guy is an outsider—he comes from the real world—that he is going to be able to break through this total, total gridlock and actually get some of these things done," he said.
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