Magical Thinking: The House GOP Budget Blueprint

Written by SK Ashby

A closer examination of the numbers included in House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price's Path to Poverty reveals some pretty amazing things.

The GOP's desire to repeal Obamacare in its entirety is nothing new, but this is:

[The] budget demands the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including the tax increases that finance the health care law. But the plan assumes the same level of federal revenue over the next 10 years that the Congressional Budget Office foresees with those tax increases in place — essentially counting $1 trillion of taxes that the same budget swears to forgo.


If House Republicans intend to count the tax hikes included in Obamacare even if they plan to repeal Obamacare, does that mean they will pass new tax hikes to replace them?

No, of course not. It's not clear how Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price will conjure $1 trillion in revenue, but I think it's safe to assume that new tax hikes are not on the table.

This $1 trillion in phantom revenue is included in Price's dubious plan to not only balance the budget, but also somehow produce a budget surplus.

And still, it achieves balance only by counting $147 billion in “dynamic” economic growth spurred by the policies of the budget itself. In 2024, the budget would produce a $13 billion surplus, thanks in part to $53 billion in a projected “macroeconomic impact” generated by Republican policies. That surplus would grow to $33 billion in 2025, and so would the macroeconomic impact, to $83 billion.

Even if this "dynamic" economic growth (read: tax cut magic) did take place, we would unfortunately still be $1 trillion away from producing a balanced budget or budget surplus.

On the side of budget cuts, House Republicans promise that a large portion of the mandatory spending cuts that make up a total of $3.5 trillion will not come from healthcare or Social Security, leaving only a handful of programs to cut from.

Other than health care and Social Security, mandatory spending includes a range of programs such as food stamps, disability payments for veterans, the earned income tax credit, and Pell grants for college students. The budget document did not specify which would be cut. Even presuming very large cuts to these programs, though, it was still unclear how lawmakers expected to come up with $1.1 trillion, said Bob Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

As you may recall, Congress has already passed a budget cut for food stamps with far-reaching implications and consequences, but that was only $40 billion. House Republicans are proposing that we cut the program a far greater amount as part of $1.1 trillion in total cuts.

Amusingly, when the budget blueprint was unveiled, one member of the Budget Committee accurately said that a budget is a "moral document."

“A budget is a moral document; it talks about where your values are,” said Representative Rob Woodall, Republican of Georgia and a member of the Budget Committee. “We’ve never had the opportunity to partner with the Senate to provide real certainty.”

He's right. A budget displays where your values are.

What does that say about them?