Budget Proposals Offer Ideas for Ways Forward on Balancing the Budget

Michi Iljazi

March 21, 2016

This is the time of year when Congress begins work on a budget for the coming fiscal year, and last week marked the introduction of a pair of budget proposals from the both the House GOP and the Republican Study Committee (RSC). Both proposals are far better than President Obama’s eighth and final budget (click here to read more) released in late January.

Each of the proposals released last week lay out a structure for a budget that will be balanced over the next decade by implementing spending cuts and enacting a series of reforms on spending programs and entitlements. Here are some of the critical steps contained in each plan:

House GOP Budget

  • Balances the budget within 10 years without raising taxes
  • Achieves $7 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years through a combination of $6.5 trillion in savings coupled with economic growth
  • Calls for a fairer, simpler tax code
  • Repeals all of Obamacare
  • Eliminates the “double dipping” of Disability Insurance and Unemployment Insurance

RSC Budget:

  • Balances the budget in eight years without relying on revenue increases
  • Reduces spending by $8.6 trillion over the next decade
  • Includes over 200 specific cuts and reforms
  • Pro-growth comprehensive tax reform with top rates at 25 percent
  • Repeals all of Obamacare
  • Establishes a regulatory budget
  • Eliminates crony capitalist programs including the Export-Import Bank,
  • Block grants for Medicaid.

While there are a great deal of exceptionally reasonable components included in both budgets, one area that lacks real reform is Pentagon spending.  The House GOP budget calls for spending levels that are higher than what the President requested, and TPA believes that the only way to get true reform from the Department of Defense when it comes to their spending is to first and foremost compel them to complete and submit a full audit. The agency is required by law to do so, yet they never have. The Pentagon must submit an audit; Congress must end the earmarks in the DOD budget, and programs like the F-35, LCS, MEADS, and Abrams Tank need to be retired. Those programs account for billions of taxpayer dollars that the government shouldn’t be spending, particularly when the programs are deemed unwanted or unnecessary by the military.

The difference in spending levels is another major problem that faces the budget process right now.  More conservative members of the Republican majority in the House (notably the House Freedom Caucus) have opposed the budget plan from the Committee. Though the $1.07 trillion for FY2017 adheres to the deal made with the 2015 Omnibus (loaded with Defense earmarks), it is $30 billion more in spending than what the 2011 Budget Control Act put forth with sequestration.

The question will now become whether or not we will see any budget even pass out of the House at all.  The only way to get the appropriations process back on track is to have regular order, so that the House and Senate can pass spending bills instead of having one big Omnibus at the end of the year. The continual use of Omnibus bills as overall spending measures to fund the entire government is a process that lacks any real oversight and forces members into voting at a time when there isn’t much room for analysis because these measures come right before the holidays, when everyone in Washington is already halfway out of the door.

The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) applauds both House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) and RSC Chairman Bill Flores (R-Texas) for coming to the table with plans that contain a great deal of promise for a way forward to fiscal restraint and budget responsibility. Neither proposal is perfect as there are clear issues that TPA has with the lack of reform on Pentagon spending as well as the $30 billion in extra spending for 2017. That being said, it is critical to move a responsible budget forward in the House and Senate so that a path forward can be set for getting back to regular order. The best solution is one where an agreement on spending levels can be made that will bring a majority of the majority on board in the House in order to pass a budget this year, hopefully that is a solution that can be achieved.

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