GOP $4.1 trillion budget passes
Key step for tax debate includes plan for voucher-type Medicare
WASHINGTON » The House on Thursday passed a $ 4.1 trillion budget plan that promises deep cuts to social programs while paving the way for Republicans to rewrite the tax code later this year.
The 2018 House GOP budget reprises a controversial plan to turn Medicare into a voucher-like program for future retirees as well as the party’s efforts to repeal the “Obamacare” health law. Republicans controlling Congress have no plans to actually implement those cuts while they pursue their tax overhaul.
That’s especially so in the Senate, where the Budget Committee on Thursday gave party-line approval to a companion plan.
Instead, the nonbinding budget’s chief purpose is to set the stage for a tax overhaul plan that is the party’s top political priority as well as a longtime policy dream of key leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan.
The White House issued a statement saying the House plan is a key step toward “Making America Great Again.”
The House measure, passed by a near party-line vote of 219-206, calls for more than $5 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade, promising to slash Medicaid by about $1 trillion over the next 10 years, cutting other health care costs, and forcing huge cuts to domestic programs funded in future years by Congress.
“It’s a budget that will help grow our economy, and it’s a budget that will help rein in our debt,” said Ryan, R-Wis. “It reforms Medicaid. It strengthens Medicare.”
But Republicans are not actually planning to impose any of those cuts with follow-up legislation that would be required under Washington’s Byzantine budget rules. Instead, those GOP proposals for spending cuts are limited to nonbinding promises, and even a token 10-year, $200 billion spending cut package demanded by tea party House Republicans appears likely to be scrapped in upcoming talks with the Senate.
Instead, the motivating force behind the budget measures is the Republicans’ party-defining drive to cut corporate and individual tax rates and rid the tax code of loopholes. They promise this tax “reform” measure will put the economy in overdrive, driving economic growth to the 3 percent range, and adding a surge of new tax revenues.
“In order to pay for these huge tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, this Republican budget makes savage cuts to the life and death programs that mean so much to ordinary Americans,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Passing the measure in theHouse and Senatewould provide key procedural help for the taxmeasure because it sets the stage for followon legislation that can’t be filibustered by Senate Democrats. Republicans used the same so- called reconciliation procedure in their failed attempt to kill “Obamacare,” including its tax surcharges on wealthy people.
Eighteen Republicans opposed the measure, including several from high-tax states like New York and New Jersey who are concerned that the upcoming tax effortwould repeal state and local tax deductions.