There are bad narratives in the media, and then there's this:
That's the headline on Damian Paletta's Washington Post piece on Monday, and until I read how bad the piece is I was willing to cut him a little slack on the headline (which often is written by someone else). The amount of credulity it requires to write in 2018 about the "longtime Republican goal of eliminating (the) deficit" can scarcely be conceptualized. I know the writer probably thinks he took a nice dig at the GOP here – Look, they've flip-flopped on deficits! What hypocrites! – but it is flat out misleading even to play along with the narrative that they ever, at any point, gave a shit about the deficit. You don't even need to pay attention very closely to politics to understand that the deficit grows every single year and the GOP differentiates itself only by talking about how they want to reduce it.
They talk about it so much that some percentage of the public must believe that under GOP control the deficit goes down. Your Man in the Street can hardly be blamed for believing it, given how often he has heard it. Reporters for major media outlets certainly have to know better.
The deficit and debt are and have always been nothing but a stalking horse for eliminating things Republicans don't like from the budget. The budget and deficit grow every year like clockwork, even (and perhaps especially, given the cost of the 00s wars) under GOP control. If any meaningful difference between the parties exists on that point, it is that they prefer to spend money on slightly different things. One wants to spend a lot on the military and the other wants to spend a shit-lot on the military. Differences like that.
Deficit hawks are a mysterious bird, appearing only at certain times like when the president is black and then migrating to calmer islands when there's a Republican in the White House.