House passes GOP budget in key step for upcoming tax debate
By ANDREW TAYLOR
WASHINGTON — The House Thursday passed a $4.1 trillion budget plan that’s a critical step for the party’s drive to rewrite the tax code later this year.
The 2018 House GOP budget promises deep cuts to social programs and Cabinet agency budgets and reprises a controversial plan to turn Medicare into a voucher-like program for future retirees. Republicans controlling the chamber have no plans to actually implement those cuts, however.
Instead, the budget plan’s chief purpose is to set the stage for a tax overhaul plan that is the party’s top political priority as well as a longtime policy dream of key leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan.
The plan, passed by a nearly party-line 219-206 vote, calls for more than $5 trillion in spending cuts over the coming decade, promising to slash Medicaid by about $1 trillion over the next 10 years, repeal the “Obamacare” health law, and force huge cuts to domestic programs funded each year by Congress. Eighteen Republicans opposed the measure.
“It’s a budget that will help grow our economy, and it’s a budget that will help rein in our debt,” said Ryan, R-Wis. “It reforms Medicaid. It strengthens Medicare.”
But Republicans are not actually planning to impose any of those cuts with follow-up legislation that would be required under Washington’s Byzantine budget rules. Instead, those GOP proposals for spending cuts are limited to nonbinding promises, and even a token 10-year, $200 billion spending cut package demanded by tea party House Republicans appears likely to be scrapped in upcoming talks with the Senate.
Instead, the motivating force behind the budget measures is the Republicans’ party-defining drive to cut corporate and individual tax rates and rid the tax code of loopholes. They promise this tax “reform” measure will put the economy in overdrive, driving economic growth to the 3 percent range, […]