The House Republicans are voting on bill that would bring down our deficits and debt at the expense of economic growth, innovation and job creation, and place the greatest burden on older Americans and the most vulnerable.
This plan is more Duck, Dodge, and Dismantle than Cut, Cap and Balance. At the same time, it would enshrine in the Constitution an extreme Balanced Budget Amendment that – rather than taking responsibility for the tough decisions needed to reduce our deficits – would likely lead to spending cuts that look like the Ryan plan on steroids. · The House plan fails to achieve a balanced plan to reduce the deficit, which is precisely the approach that has worked successfully in America in the past and has recently been recommended by a number of different fiscal commissions.
· The President has proposed a comprehensive approach that ensures we live within our means and reduces the deficit by $4 trillion, while supporting economic growth and long-term job creation, protecting critical investments, and meeting the commitments made to provide economic security to Americans no matter their circumstances.
· We want to make significant cuts to government spending, including additional savings that come from further strengthening critical programs like Medicare, while protecting the recovery, strengthening the middle class and making the investments that will promote economic growth so folks feel confident in their futures and their children’s futures.
· The President has made it clear that now is the time to lead, to reject the usual Washington positioning and political posturing, and find compromise in order to solve this problem for the American people.
· He believes that now is the moment to rise above that cynicism and show the American people that we can still do big things. Details of the Bill · Let’s start with the “cut” and “cap” portions of the bill. These sections require spending cuts in 2012 and caps over the next decade identical to those in the Ryan plan.
· By House Republicans’ own design, achieving those spending levels would require cuts that would be harmful to the economic recovery in the short-term while also damaging our long-term competitiveness and placing a higher burden on seniors and the most vulnerable. To give a few examples:
The bill would abruptly cut more than $100 billion in spending in the first year alone, cuts at a level that Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf stated would “affect our projections for GDP growth over the next two years.”
The House Budget Resolution plan would cut clean energy investments by 70 percent, infrastructure investments by a third, and education and training by 25 percent – cutting 320,000 children from Head Start and reducing aid for families trying to put their kids through college by hundreds, or even thousands of dollars.
It would cut Medicaid by one-third over the decade, and by nearly 50% by 2030. This could, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, result in 36 million people losing Medicaid coverage, including people with disabilities and seniors in nursing homes. And that comes on top of the 17 million who would lose coverage due to repealing subsidies in the Affordable Care Act.
And it would cut programs for the most vulnerable – for example, by food stamp benefits for a family of four by $1,760 per year or cut 8 million households from the program.
Finally, the House Budget Resolution proposed to convert Medicare to a voucher program, increasing costs for Medicare beneficiaries by $6,400 a year beginning in 2021 – with those higher costs increasing over time.
Balanced Budget Amendment ·
“Cut, Cap and Balance” doesn’t stop there. It also includes a requirement that to secure an increase in the debt limit, Congress must pass a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget.
· It is an extreme version of a constitutional amendment that would cap government spending and require a two-thirds supermajority to cut tax loopholes or take other steps on revenue.
· The President has frequently made clear why he thinks a Balanced Budget Amendment is a misguided effort to absolve leaders in Washington of their responsibility for making tough choices. But it is important to understand what this requirement means when added on top of the cuts in the House Budget Resolution.
· At the end of the next decade, the House plan would still be $400 billion a year short of achieving a balanced budget. Unless Republicans are willing to entertain $3 to $4 trillion in additional revenues over the next decade, that means $400 billion a year would need to be cut beyond the Ryan plan.
· And when you’ve already made such deep cuts to discretionary spending, Medicaid and other programs, it becomes difficult to imagine any credible ways to achieve those spending levels without including Social Security in the reductions and making substantially deeper reductions in Medicare.
· If the required spending cut were across the board, it would mean all programs, including Social Security and Medicare, would be cut by 10 percent by the end of the decade on top of the House Budget Resolution. By 2021, that could translate to an over $1,500 per year reduction in average benefits for the 70 million Americans on Social Security, and an average cut of about $1,100 per year per Medicare beneficiary.
· And if defense spending were exempted, it would mean that all other programs (again including Social Security and Medicare) would be cut by about 12 percent by the end of the decade on top of the House Budget Resolution. By 2021, that could translate to a $2,000 per year reduction in average benefits for Americans on Social Security, and an average cut of about $1,300 per year per Medicare beneficiary.
· And if the cuts came only from Social Security and Medicare, it would translate to a cut of about 20% to those programs by the end of the decade. By 2021, that could translate to an over $3,000 per year reduction in average benefits for the 70 million Americans on Social Security, and an average cut of over $2,000 per Medicare beneficiary.
· It would be possible to avoid cuts of this magnitude, but that would require dramatically deeper reductions than the one-third cut in Medicaid and infrastructure currently proposed in the House Budget Resolution.