House Republicans on Tuesday morning unveiled their fiscal 2016 budget plan designed to wipe out the deficit within 10 years. It would reduce spending by $5.5 trillion and overhaul key entitlement programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.
The budget blueprint, to be formally presented by House Budget Committee Chair Tom Price (R-GA), will keep spending caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act. This is despite calls from President Obama and many congressional Democratic and Republican defense hawks to remove spending restrictions on domestic and defense programs.
Price said his plan, dubbed, "A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America,” will create jobs and restore fiscal discipline. He said it will empower individuals, families, businesses and communities with more flexibility to improve the economy.
At a time when the Obama administration and Democratic leaders argue the government should take advantage of a prospering economy and declining deficit to increase spending on the middle class – Price’s plan is geared more toward austerity and deficit reduction.
“We balance the federal budget in less than ten years by reducing spending by $5.5 trillion – without accounting gimmicks or higher taxes,” Price wrote in an op-ed published this morning in USA Today. “This puts us on a path to pay down the national debt. This is in stark contrast to President Obama’s budget proposal which never, ever balances [the budget] despite trillions in tax increases.”
Through policies like fundamental tax reform, expanded energy production and the streamlining or elimination of unnecessary regulations, “our budget would create an environment where folks can plan for the future with greater confidence and optimism,” Price wrote.
Among the highlights: A plan to convert the federal Medicaid program for low-income families to a block grant to the states; “structural reforms” of Medicare for seniors to give beneficiaries more choice and access to affordable care; and once again, an attempt to repeal Obamacare. “[Repealing Obamacare] would allow Congress to start over on health care reform to build a system that works for patients, families and physicians, not Washington,” Price wrote.
The political odd couple of Obama and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the Senate Armed Services Committee chair, got out in front of the release of Republican budget proposals yesterday with renewed calls for eliminating statutory caps on spending for domestic and defense programs.
While Obama and his 2008 presidential opponent McCain don’t agree on a lot, they are in sync in lifting the spending restraints imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act to permit unfettered spending on domestic and military fronts.
Obama’s own budget plan released last month proposed raising the caps in fiscal 2016 by about $75 billion, to be evenly split between defense and domestic programs. His plan also indicates new spending and programs for the middle class, while acknowledging widespread demands for more spending on the military in the fight against ISIS.
During a White House meeting on Monday with school leaders from across the country, Obama said, “I can tell you that if the budget maintains sequester-level funding, then we would actually be spending less on pre-K to 12th grade in America’s schools in terms of federal support than we were back in 2000.” He added, “The notion that we would be going backward instead of forwards in how we’re devoting resources to educating our kids makes absolutely no sense.”
Even before the House and Senate Budget committees released their plans this week, McCain repeated his demand yesterday that any budget should raise spending for defense well above the legal cap. It should do so, he said, without any games like shifting funds between the special account set up for waging war in the Middle East and the Pentagon’s basic operating budget.
Obama has proposed $585 billion in defense spending in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, including $534 billion for the Defense Department’s base budget and $50.9 billion for the overseas contingency account that funds operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
McCain and other defense hawks say the GOP Congress should approve at least as much as Obama has requested, if not more. McCain repeated his argument that defense spending for fiscal 2016 should be restored to $577 billion, the level planned before the 2011 Budget Control Act. “At a time of growing worldwide threats, the sequestration-level caps on defense spending are putting our national security at unacceptable risk,” he said in a statement.
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