House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a fiscal 2017 budget proposal that stands little chance of passing thanks to combined opposition from Democrats as well as their own right flank.
Few Republicans are satisfied with a GOP blueprint that lifts discretionary spending caps by $30 billion next year, to $1.07 trillion.
The budget plan includes conservative priorities, including a complete overhaul of the tax code, rolling back banking reform regulations, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and reforming Medicaid and Medicare. And it would come to the floor along with a standalone measure to reduce entitlement spending by $30 billion, to make up for last year's agreement to exceed the spending caps by that amount.
But busting the spending caps has caused a conservative revolt, drawing opposition from the two major conservative House factions, the Republican Study Committee and the House Freedom Caucus.
And conservative Republicans know the standalone bill to cut spending by $30 billion will never become law, because Obama won't sign it.
"We took a position, we are against it," Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a member of the House Budget Committee and House Freedom Caucus chairman, told the Washington Examiner when asked about the proposal. "I still hope we write a Republican budget. One that spends less money."
"This budget is not a serious effort to tackle our mounting debt caused by wasteful spending," said Paul Winfree, Director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation. "Once again Congress promises future spending cuts in return for higher spending today. That's no longer acceptable. The future cuts never come."
"Congress should act now," he added. "They should move forward boldly and enact long-promised spending reforms that will reduce the deficit and lead us to a balanced budget and economic growth."
Republican leaders are eager to pass a budget blueprint by an April 15 deadline in order to facilitate the writing and consideration of a dozen spending bills needed to fund the federal government next year.
Lawmakers are not required to pass a budget blueprint, but without one, the House and Senate are far more likely to resort to an omnibus measure that combines all spending into one massive and unwieldy piece of legislation.
"We want to pass a budget," House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Tuesday after meeting privately with House Republicans. "We believe it's very important for budgeting reasons."
But with more than half of their conference likely to oppose the current spending plan, Republican leaders are left without much of a chance to pass it.
House Democrats have their own reasons for opposing it. Democrats agreed to the $1.07 trillion spending limit, but are opposed to the GOP policy provisions included in the blueprint.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., made her opposition clear shortly after Republicans unveiled their proposal.
"The Republican budget plan would do savage damage to good-paying jobs, education and infrastructure in America," Pelosi said. "It would increase poverty and erode our nation's promise of basic economic security for all Americans, continuing to stack the deck for the wealthiest and well-connected at the expense of everyone else."
Ryan wouldn't guarantee passage of the budget, and told reporters Tuesday he won't twist GOP arms.
"At the end of the day, the decision will be made by all of the members of the Republican conference," Ryan said. "And we want to work together to get this done, but it's going to be a decision left up to our members."
The GOP budget plan calls for lowering tax rates by broadening the base, which means more lower-income earners would pay taxes.
The plan also calls for more domestic oil production, which Democrats staunchly oppose, and it rescinds unused federal money meant for green energy programs.
The GOP budget cuts money for the Environmental Protection Agency, which has implemented carbon emissions regulations that have hurt the coal industry and raised energy rates. And it repeals the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by the Obama administration to oversee the banking industry.
It includes a plan to convert federal Medicaid spending into block grants for the the states to distribute, which the GOP says will provide needed spending flexibility resulting in lower costs. And Medicare would be expanded to include an option for seniors to use private insurance, enabling a system where insurance plans would compete for business and thus lower costs.
"With this reform, Medicare will have a single, annual deductible for medical costs and include a catastrophic cap on annual out-of-pocket expenses, an important aspect of the private health insurance market currently absent from Medicare that would safeguard the sickest and poorest beneficiaries," Republicans explained in their budget plan.
The plan introduces means testing to the program, requiring seniors earning more than $1 million annually to cover the cost of Part B and Part D Medicare premiums.