According to Rebecca Shabad at The Hill, House GOP Budget Cuts $5.5T in Spending, Balances in Nine Years. She apparently does not mean this as a joke. And it is true that there is this thing that House Republicans are calling a budget and it offers up general categories where various committees should make cuts to programs that are under their authority. It’s the usual thing from Republicans: don’t get specific about cuts because the people generally don’t like what you would have to cut. And balancing the budget in eight years would require absolutely horrible cuts — cuts that would especially affect all those red states that voted in most of these bozos.
What’s especially interesting in the budget is how it does everything it can to repeal Obamacare. But as everyone should know by now, Obamacare actually saves the federal government money. What the Republicans don’t like about the healthcare law is that it raised taxes on the rich. That’s always been their primary problem with the law. So their attacks on Obamacare are a way to un-balance the federal government budget, in the name of giving — What a surprise! — tax cuts to rich people. Well played, oligarchs; well played!
Michael Hiltzik discussed cruelty of this, House Budget Proposes Repeal of an Incredibly Effective Law. He showed how the budget is at odds with the facts about Obamacare, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security’s disability program. As usual, it is all about pushing the same old conservative ideas. This isn’t about balancing the budget. It is about helping their rich constituents and harming everyone else. And regardless of this fact, they will still get roughly half the votes in the next election.
A big part of the budget is the “block granting” of food stamps and Medicare. This is where they just take the money that they are currently providing in these programs and dump them on the states to do with as they please. But as Ezra Klein reported, How Republican Budgets Hide Huge Spending Cuts in Block Grants. The way this works is by locking in the funding levels. We all know that healthcare costs are rising at more than the rate of inflation; so over time, the funding would die out. Similarly, with food stamps, when a recession comes and more people need help, there won’t be any more money available to help them. The Republicans know what they want to is unpopular, so they come up with these kind of gimmicks to hide what they are doing.
Just how serious is the budget? Not very. Shabad reported that Tom Price’s new budget would “reduce $400 billion in spending from [Paul] Ryan’s budget.” That’s the already savage and unrealistic pseudo-budget that Paul Ryan produced last year. You see, it has to be. When Ryan proposed to balance the budget in ten years, many Republicans were against this. How could it take ten years to balance the budget! That was deeply un-serious — a political con job. But still the far right of the party are delusional. So this year, they come back, thinking that the loons might accept eight years. They won’t, of course. They think you just cut everything but the military and everything will be fine. Deep thinkers they ain’t — and I’m not even talking about the social costs; such a move would throw the US economy (and thus also the world’s) into a far worse situation than we were in during the Great Depression. But government is the problem, am I right?!
Note also that if the Republicans did quickly balance the budget and throw the country into depression, this would change the results of the budget projections. The budget uses dynamic scoring — but very deceptively, of course. Price uses it to claim that cutting all this government spending is going to make the economy take off. But that won’t happen. Not only will the budget not be propped up as they suggest, it will go the other way. In fact, it could be so bad that the deficit gets worse because so much less tax revenue comes in.
But the budget is not meant to be serious. Even before the budget was released, Stan Collender at Forbes reported, GOP Has Nothing but Bad Choices on the Budget. He explained that the Republicans are trying to create a budget that can make its way to reconciliation — thus bypassing the Senate filibuster. But who cares? Obama will just veto it anyway. And because of that, there are a lot of hard-line conservatives who probably won’t vote for it. Because, you know, they should just balance the budget this year.
This is the status of the Republican Congress. This is what they call governing. They can’t even make their symbolic gestures work. It’s pathetic. So why is it that they control Congress?