Facts and Opinions on the House GOP 2017 Budget

The House GOP’s proposed 2018 budget cuts healthcare and other social funding to offset new tax cuts (i.e., it does what all GOP legislation does.) This is important to understand because the House just passed their budget Thurs. Oct 5th, 2017 which has been in waiting since August.[1]

TIP: See an overview of the House 2018 budget here. You can find key facts on that page, for specifics you’ll need to see the legislative text (the report and “blueprint” have the same general information in them, but they are written in a way favorable to the plan. Meanwhile, the legislative text is the nuts and bolts).

The Gist of the House’s 2018 Budget

On paper, with economic growth considered and the effects of tax cuts and spending cuts assumed to stimulate and not depress the economy, and with advents like $700 billion from “improper payments” realized, the House GOP budget reduces the deficit over the next 10 years.

That sounds good on paper, but when you dig through, you notice the budget it assumes a lot of things that one might be skeptical of. For example, it assumes the House’s American Health Care Act will somehow pass the Senate despite that bill, the BCRA, and Graham-Cassidy (all very similar bills) being rejected.

Further, it assumes a lot of changes that Democrats are likely not to be in favor of (like a controversial plan to turn Medicare into a voucher-like program for future retirees).

It is with those details in mind that one might call the logic and the practicality of the budget into question.

Below is an op-ed about the House’s 2018 budget.

Opinions on the GOP Plan to Cut Taxes and Assistance in the Name of Liberty

If you asked me to write up a theoretical GOP law or budget plan or platform, and I mean for any fiscal year in recent history, it would look like this:

  • Cut spending for assistance programs in the name of “choices.”
  • Cut taxes (and flatten taxes) in the name of “liberty.”
  • Defund agencies private and public like the EPA, Planned Parenthood, and Science in the name of “solutions.”
  • Reframe longstanding political concepts to make it sound like the GOP have “real” American values and that Democrats hate liberty and love taxes; in the name of “small government and big government.”
  • Talk a big game about the debt, claiming that tax cuts and spending cuts will have no other effect than to create a surplus. In practice, tax cuts create a plan that just shifts winners and loser around by cutting assistance programs and beefing up spending on things like defense and walls, which the GOP favor.
  • Assume a bunch of questionable cause and effect links to make the math work.
  • Add in some charts that make it all look like a really good idea. See charts.

So, what is it that you think the GOP budget does? That is right; it does all of this.

It cuts hundreds of billions from spending, cuts hundreds of billions in taxes, optimistically assumes a range of programs will be implemented (like their healthcare plan), and then optimistically assumes this will cause an economic boom over time (rather than a depression or recession over time).

This, in other words, is GOP as usual, it is the playbook, it is what we have all come to expect.

Is it that the GOP thinks it will pass? Not exactly. One could somewhat cynically argue that the game they are playing is pleasing their base and donors, and showing the Senate what the House wants. Then the Senate can say, “oh no, we can’t do this, and try to slip a little through anyway.”

The effect of that being a big, stressful media blitz during which Bernie says, “you shall not pass.” Rand says, “they don’t actually care about the debt.” Business continues as usual while Republican go on Fox News and say the words “solutions, choices, and liberty.” Trump says, “we have a good plan, beautiful plan, trust me, the biggest middle-class tax break in history from what I understand.” (While we all suspect that he didn’t read it, we don’t say that, because we didn’t read the legislation either, to be fair to our President).

NOTE: See the legislative text of the 2018 budget and the report on the 2018 budget. To be fair to the House, this was written over time, and politics is changing so fast it isn’t full inappropriate to include things like an ACA repeal.

The bottom line here is this is GOP business as usual in the House, but I’m not sure how much that matters as it is very likely that the budget as is isn’t going to pass without modification in our politically polarized environment.

In the past, a figure like FDR or Reagan got their tax plans passed as they could reach across the aisle and build coalitions without being blacklisted by the parties and their donors. Today, it is unlikely that either party will get sweeping changes passed.

The bottom line here is that the GOP has put forth yet another plan that looks exactly like all their other plans which seek to dismantle and defund social programs with one hand and cut taxes with the other.

In other words, if this does pass as is, the safety net is going to be slashed to ribbons. This could possibly spur on growth but may have the opposite result. However, the chance they can pass this as is through the Senate is slim.

Citations

  1. House passes GOP budget in key step for upcoming tax debate

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