Rep. Pete Stauber seemed to go against President Donald Trump on Tuesday by pledging to protect federal benefit programs "for those who need it most," he said.
Stauber, R-Hermantown, made his statement one day after the White House released President Donald Trump's new budget, which detailed $1.9 trillion worth of cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
"While I agree with President Trump's overall goal to reduce the skyrocketing national debt, I believe we can do so without reducing spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security programs countless Minnesotans rely on," Stauber said in a news release. "I made a promise to protect these critical programs for those who need it most, and it is a promise I intend to keep."
Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are federal programs which serve tens of millions of retired workers who paid into those programs, as well as providing aid for people with disabilities and the unemployed.
Stauber's statement reflected his campaign position on the way to election last November. At a heated debate about the issue in Brainerd last October, Stauber recited a Trump line about Social Security and the other programs: "Promises made, promises kept," Stauber said then.
Trump's $4.75 trillion budget proposal called for increased defense spending and $8.6 billion for construction of a wall along the border with Mexico. It cut funding for education, the U.S. Postal Service and the aforementioned benefit programs.
The proposal would add to a federal deficit which is already 77 percent ahead of last year's deficit spending. The nation's budget deficit is ever-widening and on course to surpass $1 trillion annually by 2020, said online reports. The national debt was $22 trillion.
On Feb. 13, Stauber tweeted: "With our debt surpassing $22 trillion we must stop spending money we don't have. Balancing the budget is the first step in tackling our out-of-control national debt, and will strengthen our economy & create jobs."
Stauber and many of his colleagues turned their attention to the appropriations bills yet to unfold in the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.
"It is important to note that this proposed budget is a starting point, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle along with the President to secure a final budget that adequately funds these important programs many Minnesotans rely on," Stauber said.
Trump and his administration hit it off with Stauber beginning at a campaign rally in Duluth last summer. They share several conservative views and values. Lately, Stauber has been sharing more of his positions on social media.
"'Medicare for All' scheme would cost $33 Trillion and result in the largest tax increase in American history, and force 150 million Americans off their current plans," Stauber wrote Feb. 22 on Twitter.
Stauber has come out strongly against some other Democratic proposals on social media, too, including the Green New Deal proffered by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-Bronx. Stauber called it "no deal" Feb. 25 on Twitter.
Stauber has introduced multiple bills, including one that would require U.S. steel to be used construction of the border wall, and another to effectively end legal challenges to a swap of national forest land with proposed copper-nickel mining land on the Iron Range. Later Tuesday he announced his first bill signed into law by the president - the National Scenic Trail Route Adjustment Act - which was part of the larger Natural Resources Management Act.
"I want to lead by example and be that bipartisan congress member who, I hope, can earn the trust of citizens," told the News Tribune shortly after his election.
Outside of his statement, Stauber was not available for further comment on Tuesday.