More Tax Cut Legislation on ‘Fast Track’
House Republicans unveiled a Y 2019 budget proposal Tuesday to send a message to their core supporters that repealing Barack Obamacare, cutting taxes and partially privatizing Medicare remain high on their agenda.
The budget, which claims to balance by Y 2027 through $8-T in spending cuts, seeks to revive the deficit-cutting mantle for Republicans after a 2-year deal that increased spending by $300-B. A massive tax cut approved last year is expected to add $2-T in deficits over 10 years.
The budget proposal lays out a platform for the Republicans to run on in November. Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to win the House and the party has reason to be optimistic about achieving that goal in November’s election.
The new measure would keep the Y 2019 discretionary spending level, avoiding a showdown with Democrats that could lead to another government shutdown. The plan calls for defense spending increases and cuts to domestic discretionary spending in later years.
To win conservative support, the budget would fast-track at least $302-B in spending cuts over 10 years through a process that requires only 50 votes to pass the Senate, avoiding a Democratic filibuster, as long as the plan doesn’t increase deficits after 10 years. The same reconciliation process was used in the failed attempt last year to repeal Obamacare and for the successful passage of the tax-code overhaul.
The budget would let congressional committees try once again to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Barack Obamacare and enact a new tax law. The 2017 tax law contained individual rate cuts that expire in Y 2026, and many Republicans want to extend those in a new bill.
While the Senate is unlikely to adopt its own budget to take up these initiatives before the November congressional election, the budget process could be used by lame-duck lawmakers after the election to ram through Republican-only legislation.
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman David Bergstein said this month that voters’ concerns about rising healthcare premiums overwhelm any positive feelings about the overall economy, and that is a liability for Republican Senate candidates.
Endorsement of the budget cap by House Republicans would be a strong indication that Congress may be able to avoid a shutdown over spending levels.
The Trump Administration’s decision this month that it will not defend Barack Obamacare in court could spur Congress to revisit the issue later this year.
The lawsuit by Texas challenging the law could gut the law’s protection for people with pre-existing medical conditions. Were that to happen, the 2019 House budget would provide a tool to revive repeal.