House GOP Rolls Out 10-Year Budget Plan, Democrats Call It ‘Radical’
WASHINGTON — Republicans on the House Budget Committee on Tuesday rolled out a 10-year budget plan they contend will “right size” the federal bureaucracy, balance the budget, and in doing so, cut the nation’s bulging deficit by more than $16 trillion in the next decade.
Their Democratic colleagues on the committee disagree, saying that with just 11 days left in the current fiscal year, the Republicans have put forth a budget resolution that “outlines their full radical agenda: misplaced priorities, more tax cuts for the wealthy and massive cuts to vital programs.”
The Republican proposal, entitled “Reverse the Curse: The Plan to Restore Fiscal Responsibility, Economic Freedom, and Prosperity in America,” is distinct from the continuing resolution and departmental spending proposals currently being heatedly debated on Capitol Hill.
However, it does provide a strong indication of where the party as a whole believes the nation should be headed in terms of getting its fiscal house in order.
“Nobody can look at our broken balance sheet, our unsustainable spending and our debt, and not be angered by it,” House Budget Committee Chair Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, told reporters at the plan’s unveiling.
Just a day earlier, the Treasury Department noted the United States’ gross national debt has exceeded $33 trillion for the first time in history.
“The founders warned us about excessive debt repeatedly,” Arrington continued. “My favorite was what James Madison said: ‘A public debt is a public curse.’
“The fact of it is, having this large and growing debt is exacerbating the cost of living crisis, it’s putting upward pressure on interest and inflation is crowding out private investment,” he said.
Arrington went on to suggest his greatest fear is allowing “a deadly, slow economic demise” to fester until it becomes a sovereign debt crisis like one experienced by Greece beginning in late 2009.
In Greece, the crisis was triggered by a worldwide recession in the wake of the global financial crisis, which revealed structural weaknesses in the Greek economy and a lack of flexibility in regard to its monetary policy.
Arrington described the situation in more folksy, but no less stark, terms.
“It’s as if you had termites on the front porch and bears at the back door, and then a catastrophe occurred that brought the whole house down,” he said.
“If we have a Greece-style crisis, we lose the whole country. We lose future prosperity. We lose our security and our ability to put our military on the battlefield to defend our freedom. And our children will be forced to live with a new world order of which America is not the leader,” he added.
Explaining the budget policies and recommendations contained in the report were largely worked out by the six representatives who joined him on stage, members he called “the fiscal conscience of our Republican conference,” Arrington said many of them would not come to pass with bipartisan support.
Among the proposals the committee highlighted in a one-page handout were work requirements for able-bodied recipients of Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, limits on discretionary spending and “a dismantling” of the Democrats’ signature Inflation Reduction Act.
The committee Republicans estimate that the work requirements alone would save the government about $800 billion in 10 years’ time, while slashing key provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act would save another $766 billion.
These cuts would include eliminating $129 billion in grants and tax breaks for renewable energy and climate-related initiatives, rolling back $57 billion in subsidies related to the expansion of the Affordable Care Act, and repealing student loan forgiveness, which the committee members said would save taxpayers $580 billion.
Arrington and other Republicans also touted the plan, which the committee marked up on Wednesday, as achieving $4.6 trillion in savings over 10 years, by, among other things, capping discretionary spending growth at 1% annually after 2014 and requiring a deficit-neutral “solution” to the Highway Trust Fund.
Another $1 trillion would be saved over the 10-year period by rooting out fraud and waste, the committee said.
“What we’ve come up with here is a set of pro-growth, pro-work, pro-energy policies that we know will return us to what we were experiencing before — which was unprecedented growth and prosperity lifted on the tide of a growing economy,” Arrington said.
Another recommendation the committee Republicans are putting forward is creating a bipartisan commission that would look at the nation’s “long-term unfunded liability” — Social Security and Medicare.
“I think that’s the most practical and most realistic way to address those highly sensitive and highly important safety nets for seniors,” Arrington said. “The idea is to have this commission go through all the ideas that should be on the table and come up with a consensus — a bipartisan peace of mind — that will not only solve problems associated with these programs but make them sustainable for future folks.”
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., said he believes the plan he helped craft “is a good faith effort to apply the principles of fiscal responsibility to federal spending.”
“Just as you cannot drink yourself sober, you cannot spend yourself rich, you cannot borrow your way out of debt, you cannot tax your way to prosperity,” he said.
“No nation in the world has ever taxed and borrowed its way to a bright economic future, but many have borrowed and taxed their way to bankruptcy, collapse and economic ruin,” McClintock said. “Let’s not allow this to be our legacy or our epitaph.”
Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., also hammered away at the national debt, saying he’d recently heard the government spends $20,000 a second, “just to keep up with paying the interest on the debt.”
“That’s just not sustainable,” the longtime developer and grandfather of 17 said.
“Now, I realize that every dollar spent in D.C. has an advocate for why it should be spent,” Norman continued. “Is what we’re proposing going to be easy to meet? No. What’s it going to take? It’s going to take courage. We have got to have a willingness to say no.
“No one can argue that a debt of $33 trillion is sustainable. No one can argue that Social Security, as things stand now, is not going to go bankrupt in 2030, or that the Highway Trust Fund is not going to go bankrupt.
“Unfortunately, the answer we always hear from the other side is, taxes,” Norman said. “There’s never any mention of cuts. What you get instead are plans for a new FBI building when there are buildings all over this town sitting vacant. That’s a joke. Then there’s the Green New Deal, which is crony capitalism at its worst. It’s a joke and we’ve got to have the courage to say it out loud.
“And I don’t care what the media says. I don’t care what the naysayers say. The bottom line is we have got to rein in federal spending for our survival. This isn’t a Democratic issue. This isn’t a Republican issue. The way that those who supposedly control the money in this town spend it is unAmerican.
“We have got the power to fix it, and we’ve got the tools to fix it. The question is, do we have the courage?” Norman said.
Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Pa., the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, responded by accusing “MAGA Republicans” of driving the nation toward a costly government shutdown “because they want to make cruel cuts to everything from health care to education.”
“And this MAGA budget [proposal] doubles down on their extreme cuts,” he said. “Make no mistake: America is barreling towards a government shutdown because Republicans reneged on the bipartisan budget agreement in their thirst for cruel budget cuts — cuts which will raise the cost of living when it’s already too high.
“House Republicans haven’t done a thing to lower the cost of living or make life better for the American people because they are consumed by petty infighting and obsessed with an extreme MAGA agenda. Democrats will fight back against these cruel cuts, we will fight back against these extreme budget ideas, and we will always fight to invest in the American people,” Boyle added.
The committee’s Democrat, also posted a lengthy rebuttal to the Republican plan on their website.
“By 2033,” the Democrats said, “total discretionary levels under the budget are virtually the same as levels today, severely underfunding appropriations for the entire budget window and permanently instituting the annual threat of shutdown — with its negative impact on economic growth, halted government services and wasted resources.
“If favored programs, such as Defense and veterans, are allowed to keep pace with inflation or grow, the cuts to other programs grow deeper and deeper. As CBO wrote in March, Republican plans to balance the budget solely through spending cuts are unrealistic, requiring the complete elimination of most non-Defense investments,” they said.
Lambasting the Republican proposal for what they call its “near-apocalyptic vision,” the Democrats said the GOP plan includes more than $400 billion of Medicare cuts to providers despite Republicans’ promise to protect and “save” the program, and would make an additional $2 trillion in cuts to mandatory health spending including drastic cuts to Medicaid.
The Democrats also contend the Republican plan would cut $217 billion from the Highway Trust Fund, which provides grants to state and local governments for highway maintenance.
“State and local governments provide nearly three-quarters of total spending for highways, and the federal share provides a stable source of funding that allows state and local governments to secure more favorable financing,” the Democrats said.
“Like the austerity-level appropriations bills, these enormous cuts are unlikely to find support from either party, making the claimed deficit reduction in this budget a complete mirage,” they added.
Finally, the Democrats accuse their Republican colleagues of engaging in “some budget sorcery” to make their numbers work, relying on “astonishing predictions of economic growth, tax receipts and future spending levels.”
“The economic assumptions behind the budget appear to be a wild departure from all reputable sources,” the Democrats said. “The budget assumes $3 trillion in savings from macroeconomic feedback, a pipe dream that cutting programs families rely on will create economic growth. It uses gimmicks to allow for unlimited budget-busting tax cuts without having to show those costs in the budget.
“Instead of lowering the cost of living or making life better for the American people, this budget bows to the worst ideas of the most extreme corners of the Republican conference,” the Democrats said. “The budget cements in place spending levels so low they tempt annual shutdowns. It makes harsh cuts to lifeline assistance programs. And it uses some sleight-of-hand bookkeeping whoppers to create an outline for a dim view of the future.”