WASHINGTON: The House on Thursday adopted a compromise GOP budget that promises to speed repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care law while giving the Pentagon an additional $38 billion.
The 226-197 vote sends the non-binding budget plan to the Senate for a vote next week. It promises to balance the budget in nine years with more than $5 trillion in spending cuts, though Republicans make clear they aren’t interested in actually imposing controversial cuts to programs like Medicare, food stamps, Pell Grants or the traditional Medicaid program with follow-up legislation.
Instead, the House-Senate budget framework increases spending in the near term by padding war accounts by almost $40 billion next year. And Senate Republicans skittish over politically dangerous cuts to Medicare blocked a House move that called for giving subsidies to future retirees to purchase health insurance on the open market instead of a guaranteed package of Medicare coverage.
Under Washington’s arcane budget process, lawmakers first adopt a budget that’s essentially a visionary document and follow it up with binding legislation to set agency budgets, cut or raise taxes, and make changes to so-called mandatory programs like Medicare and food stamps, whose budgets run as if on autopilot.
Republicans tout the long-term economic benefits of a balanced budget and say it’s better to tackle the long-term financial problems of programs like Medicare and Medicaid sooner rather than later.
Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., said the GOP plan “will not only get Washington’s fiscal house in order but pave the way for stronger economic growth, more jobs and more opportunity.’’
But Democrats say the GOP plan unfairly targets the middle class and the poor while leaving in place lucrative tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.