Senate Republicans have finally unveiled their budget proposal for fiscal 2018 and it contains a few surprises alongside a few things that aren't surprising.
As expected, their budget proposal is sprinkled with magic asterisks that forecast a balanced budget in 10 years, but it doesn't include measures that would allow the Senate to fully repeal Obamacare through reconciliation.
The budget proposal would still allow Republicans to pursue a much narrower attack on the Affordable Care Act, including repealing the individual mandate to purchase coverage. The resolution also would let the GOP use the fast-track process to open up drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The budget, authored by Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi, forecasts a balance in nine years through $5 trillion in largely unspecified spending cuts. Unlike the House budget proposed in July, Enzi’s blueprint doesn’t call for cuts to Medicaid or a partial privatization of Medicare.
It may go without saying, but $5 trillion(!) in unspecified spending cuts is a chasm that rivals the Grand Canyon.
It's a ridiculous number and, amusingly, it would be a ridiculous number even if their budget proposal called for cutting Medicaid, which it does not. Obamacare repeal bills considered by the GOP over the past 8 months have included approximately $1 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and it's one of the three largest spending programs in all of government alongside Medicare and national defense.
There may not even be $5 trillion in total government spending over a decade if the big three are excluded. If there is, there would be nothing left after cutting that much of it.
While they may not admit it in public, Republicans know they'll never come up with $5 trillion in spending cuts so their proposal creates space for $1.5 trillion in deficit-financed tax cuts that won't be paid for at all.
Senate Republicans are not expected to actually unveil a tax cut bill until November. The legislative schedule for November has not been posted yet, but we can say that will leave them less than a month to pass their tax cuts before another possible government shutdown and debt ceiling deadline.
Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi knew this was coming when they hoodwinked Trump into supporting a short extension of government funding and the debt ceiling. Those deadlines will hang over everything the GOP is trying to do.