GOP Budget Moves Ahead 10/18 05:42
The Senate has voted to move ahead on a Republican budget plan that's a
critical step in the party's drive to cut taxes and simplify the IRS code.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate is moving ahead on a Republican budget plan, a
critical step in President Donald Trump and the party's politically imperative
drive to cut taxes and simplify the IRS code.
The nonbinding budget plan would permit Republicans to pass follow-up tax
cuts later this year that would cost up to $1.5 trillion over the coming
decade. The plan cleared a procedural hurdle in the Senate on a party-line vote
The plan breaks with longstanding promises by top Republicans like Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan that the upcoming
tax drive won't add to the nation's $20 trillion debt. Once the budget plan
passes through the GOP-controlled Congress, the House and Senate can then
advance a follow-up tax overhaul measure without fear of a filibuster by Senate
"It is crucial that Congress approve this fiscal framework in order to
eliminate the dated and stifling tax policies that are holding back our
nation," said Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.
The budget plan calls for $5 trillion in spending cuts over the decade,
including cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and the Obama-era health care law, though
Republicans have no plans to actually impose those cuts with follow-up
Tuesday's vote sets up a vote later this week to pass the budget. That vote
is likely to be close, but key GOP moderates such as Susan Collins of Maine and
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have signaled support. And John McCain, R-Ariz., who
bucked the party on health care, said Tuesday that he supports the budget as a
path to accomplishing tax reform
Rand Paul, R-Ky., is opposed, but so far he is the only Republican to come
out against the measure, and GOP leaders are confident the budget will pass by
Paul told reporters he wants to strip $43 billion in war funding from the
measure, claiming the money busts budget limits set years ago. He lashed out at
McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. --- longstanding defense hawks defending
the war funding --- and questioned whether Republicans are serious about
cutting automatic-pilot programs known as entitlement spending.
"You've got the McCain-Graham people clamoring for as much money as they can
stuff in there and then we also have people saying, 'Oh yeah, we're going to do
entitlement reform' but with no means, no mechanism, and no will shown that
they actually are serious."
Graham shot back on Twitter that Paul was dishing out "bad info" and was
threatening to "screw up #TaxReform."
Trump and his GOP allies plan to use the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to
sharply reduce corporate rates, cut taxes for most individuals, and slash taxes
on business partnerships such as law firms, medical practices, and accounting
firms. After failing to deliver on their promise to "repeal and replace" the
health care law, Republicans fear that failure to deliver on taxes would be a
The spending cuts in the measure include $473 billion from Medicare and more
than $1 trillion from Medicaid. Although the budget plan is nonbinding, it puts
Republicans and Democrats on record about its policies.
If the measure's politically difficult cuts were implemented, the budget
deficit would drop to $424 billion after 10 years and average about $540
billion a year over the life of the plan, the Congressional Budget Office
Republicans use different math, relying on optimistic predictions of
economic growth that average 2.6 percent a year, while ignoring growing,
chronic deficits run by Social Security to claim that their budget could
actually generate a surplus by 2026.
"The Budget Committee expects that enactment of pro-growth policies could
generate sufficient economic growth to offset" the $1.5 trillion tax cut,
according to the panel's budget report.
Even most economists sympathetic to arguments that tax cuts boost the
economy don't claim they fully pay for themselves, however.
"A good estimate for real-world tax policy is somewhere around 25-30 cents
on the dollar," said GOP economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin.
While Democrats remain united against the budget plan, the Trump
administration is making overtures to Democratic senators from states Trump
easily won last year. Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Claire
McCaskill of Missouri and Joe Manchin of West Virginia dined Monday night at
the home of daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, both top
The bare-bones tax blueprint issued last month by Trump and Republican
leaders lacks critical details, and two of the Democrats said it was premature
to consider compromises.
There was "lots of talk" about the tax plan, Heitkamp said Tuesday, but "I
still don't know what it is."
McCaskill said, "It's very difficult to discuss what, if anything, we could
agree to if they don't have a plan."