Every single GOP candidate complains that Democratic spending is a problem because it creates deficits that lead to borrowing that leads to high debt. But they don't really care about the deficit or debt. What they care about is having an argument for cutting spending on social safety net programs and reducing the role of government in preventing corporate malfeasance.
If they cared about debt and the deficit, they would let the gimmick they wrote into law in 2001 take effect as it is slated to do--they would let all of the Bush tax cuts expire and return us to that saner pre-Bush tax policy. From there we could eliminate loopholes and phase out giveaway tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations, and we'd be well on our way to dealing with the deficit and debt without creating any new holes in the social safety net.
But that's not what they want. The reason they support trillions of dollars of new tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations is that they really don't want a viable federal government that works for the general public good rather than serving the militaristic objectives promoted since Reagan--and particularly not one that provides a social safety net. Mark Thoma says it well.
Tax cuts create a deficit while rewarding key constituents at the same time (all the while arguing that the tax cuts create middle class jobs through trickle down effects that never seem to actually appear), and then the subsequent complaints and worries over the deficit lead to spending cuts. People say the Bush tax cuts didn't work -- I say it myself -- and that's true if you are talking about the impact of the cuts on economic growth and employment. It's hard to find evidence of strong effects on these variables. But it has created huge pressure to cut spending -- the government is being starved of the revenue it needs to support some programs -- and even if by some miracle the Bush tax cuts end Republicans will have accomplished the goal of shifting the conversation in a way that even has Democrats supporting changes to social insurance programs.
Mark Thoma, The Party of Higher Debts
or as a commenter (Charlier Baker) on Thoma's post noted:
Reagan doubled the national debt while weakening social spending; Bush II added $3T, and his wars and tax cuts set up most of our deficits now. Yet the [right] will always blame old people, single moms, college kids, and any other powerless target group du jour that catches their eye.