Once upon a time, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) talked a lot about balancing the budget, reducing the national debt, and eliminating wasteful spending. Now, he admits he was behind one of President Donald Trump’s most comically expensive spending ideas: buying Greenland.

Greenland, a large island and an autonomous portion of Denmark, is not actually for sale. But one estimate suggested that if it were, it would cost around half-a-trillion dollars to purchase. That is roughly the same amount as the entire federal budget deficit in the final year of President Barack Obama’s presidency.

In recent days, Trump acknowledged that he attempted to purchase Greenland and lashed out at Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen for being “nasty” in her rebuff — a term he frequently uses to malign powerful women who do not give him his way.

Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2019

But on Wednesday, Cotton reportedly boasted that buying Greenland had been his idea all along.

Speaking at the Talk Business & Politics Power Lunch at the Red & Blue Events Center in Little Rock, the Arkansan enthusiastically backed Trump’s botched attempt to spend trillions of dollars on an island few in America want to own. “Obviously, the right decision for this country,” Cotton said. “You’re joking, but I can reveal to you that several months ago, I met with the Danish ambassador and I proposed that they sell Greenland to us.”


Noting that President Harry Truman — a Democrat whose spending habits were not popular among conservatives — once tried to buy Greenland for $100 million, Cotton told the attendees that its “economic potential is untold,” and Greenland is “vital to our national security.”

“Anyone who can’t see that is blinded by Trump derangement,” he claimed. “I told the president you should buy it as well,” Cotton bragged, though he later conceded that Trump had also heard the idea “from some other people as well.”

Cotton’s newfound desire to buy more land flies in the face of his Obama-era brand as a fiscal conservative who was committed to balanced budgets and deficit reduction.

In 2015, he signed on as a co-sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget. Throughout his 2014 campaign, he repeatedly attacked then-Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Obama for letting the deficit and debt grow.

Sen. Pryor voted to raise the debt ceiling. Read how future generations will pay for his big-government spending – http://t.co/sAMRtt9UiG

— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) February 13, 2014

FACT CHECK: Our debt has gone up $11 trillion under Sen. Pryor’s watch #arsen #ardebate pic.twitter.com/ULFCsRwD22

— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) October 13, 2014

Did Congress forget our nation is $18 trillion in debt? RT to remind them! pic.twitter.com/YIu5zWVxEh

— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) December 15, 2014

During his time in the House, Cotton frequently complained about the growing national debt and proposed to reduce spending to bring it down.

The US must cap spending to deal w/ #15trillion in debt. #argop #ar4

— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) November 8, 2011

Your share of the national debt is $48,698. #ar4 #arpx #argop

— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) January 26, 2012

An $8 billion/day increase in federal debt is simply unsustainable. We must reduce the debt. #ar4 #argop

— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) October 25, 2011

But under Trump’s leadership, the budget deficit has swelled to more than a trillion dollars annually for the first time in history. Much of this was fueled by Trump’s 2017 tax cuts for the rich and corporations, which significantly reduced the nation’s revenue and passed with Cotton’s support.


In 2015, Cotton scolded his colleagues, saying: “Arkansans learn from an early age that you can’t spend more than you take in. And as deeply patriotic people, we also learn the importance of supporting our military. Rest assured, I am committed to teaching my fellow lawmakers in Washington these same lessons.”

And without a hint of irony, he pushed a bill to prohibit bailouts for American states and cities last month, claiming: “The reckless, debt-fueled spending of a few state and local governments can’t go on forever, so it won’t. Our bill would ensure American taxpayers aren’t stuck with the tab for the spending binges of a few irresponsible politicians.”

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