Congress

House Republicans Unveil a Budget of Pure Insanity

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

If this is the starting point at which House Republicans intend to begin budget negotiations, I feel more confident than ever that they will not pass a new budget.

The House Budget Committee has unveiled their proposal for fiscal year 2018 which begins on October 1st and "insanity" is the only word that immediately came to mind. Among other horrible things, the proposal calls for cutting Medicare and devastating Medicaid.

From the Associated Press:

The plan, in theory at least, promises to balance the budget through unprecedented and politically unworkable cuts across the budget. It calls for turning this year’s projected $700 billion or so deficit into a tiny $9 billion surplus by 2027. It would do so by slashing $5.4 trillion over the coming decade, including almost $500 billion from Medicare, $1.5 trillion from Medicaid and the Obama health law, along with sweeping cuts to benefits such as federal employee pensions, food stamps, and tax credits for the working poor.

"In theory at least."

I'm pretty sure we just decided that we're not going to annihilate Medicaid and repeal Obamacare. I would guess that House Republicans developed this proposal under the assumption that Senate Republicans would successfully repeal Obamacare and destroy Medicaid as we know it, but that's apparently not going to happen. But in any event, I don't believe House Republicans will respond to the Senate's failure by dropping these measures from their proposal. It's more likely they will see this as their next opportunity to kill Obamacare.

But wait, this gets much, much better worse.

"In theory," their proposal says the federal budget will be balanced in 10 years but, as you might guess, that assumes a few things will happen that probably won't happen.

The House Republican budget proposal ties sweeping "tax reform," or tax cuts for the rich, to their massive spending cuts, but it also includes magic asterisks totaling more than $1.5 trillion in phantom growth that will trickle down into federal revenue. In other words, their insane spending cuts will not be enough on their own pay for their equally insane tax cuts for the rich.

Even if you were inclined to believe that removing $5.4 trillion in federal spending from the economy would somehow magically lead to $1.5 trillion in revenue from economic growth (these numbers do not even add up), their tax cut proposal calls for slashing taxes on corporations and the rich by 15 percent or more, allowing them to pay significantly less in taxes than they've ever paid before.

Look, I would not surprised if Speaker Paul Ryan manages to scrape together enough votes to advance this heinous proposal because he's done so almost every year since he first unveiled his Path to Poverty Prosperity budget in 2011, but the Senate is another story. If McConnell in the Senate could not find 50 votes to even proceed to debate on repealing and replacing Obamacare, how is he going to find enough votes for this monstrosity?

By using this as their starting point, House Republicans would have to compromise the overwhelming majority of it to even approach the event horizon of something resembling a reasonable proposal. This significantly increases the chance that Congress will not be able to reach an agreement and will fund the federal government in fiscal 2018 with a continuing resolution that funds the government at fiscal 2017 levels.

If you've been following along, you know that means funding the government at a level that was first agreed to in 2015. Very little has changed since then.

By tying their "tax reform" plan to this budget proposal, both may die simultaneously.

  • katanahamon

    Once again the Repubs prove their years of obstruction have led to a complete degeneration of their ability to govern in a sane manner, or even rub two functional brain cells together.

  • muselet

    My fearless prediction: the House Rs will pass Paul Ryan’s fantasy budget plan. Most of the House Freedumb Caucus will go along (a few will dissent because the new budget would still mollycoddle the undeserving poor), as will most of the non–bomb-chuckers (after they have aired their “concerns” about the excessive amounts of granny-starving in the bill). Paul Ryan will crow and preen for the cameras, and be hailed yet again as a policy wonk.

    The Senate Rs will run around in circles, squawking and bickering. John McCain will get to go on all eleventy-seven Sunday yak shows and burble something mavericky. In the end, the Senate will pass nothing. Remarkably, Mitch McConnell will not be tarred and feathered by his conference.

    Ultimately a CR will be passed, amid general discontent. There is a nonzero probability the House Freedumb Caucus and the dimmer Senate Rs will shut down the government to prove their Ayn Rand Fan Club bona fides, but the careerists will slap them down before things get too far out of hand (a week, maybe two at the outside).

    Either that or the Rs will simply burn everything down to collect the insurance money. One or the other.

    –alopecia

  • KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker

    And the low income dolts who keep voting republican will again be hurt the most if any of this passess.
    To be a true republican you must be either a heartless rich asshole or an ignorant fool.

    • Victor the Crab

      To be a true republican you must be either a heartless rich asshole and an ignorant fool.

      Fixed it to reflect reality better.

    • muselet

      You left out “madman.”

      –alopecia