House Republicans on Wednesday are unveiling their answer to President Biden's 2022 budget, putting forward a document that they say can balance the federal budget in five years while cutting taxes by $1.9 trillion.
The summary of the proposal by the Republican Study Committee (RSC), first obtained by Fox News, would slash a litany of discretionary programs, reform federal programs like Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) into block grants, institute "zero-baseline budgeting," and more.
These cuts, combined with reduced regulations, increases in the retirement age for Social Security and eligibility age for Medicare, among other things, the RSC says, would bring the United States to a balanced budget in five years.
"The Democrats are introducing socialism and radically expanding the role of government, and in just a short amount of time, we’re already seeing the negative effects of their agenda on our economy. We're seeing a spike in the cost of living and slower than expected job growth. And this is just the beginning," Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., the RSC chairman, said in a statement.
Banks added: "It’s time Republicans reclaim the mantle of fiscal responsibility and show voters an alternative vision for conservative governance. I thank Rep. Kevin Hern and the rest of the RSC Budget and Spending Task Force for leading this effort."
"The Republican Budget is floor-ready, a thorough plan rooted in common-sense conservative policy," Rep Kevin Hern, R-Okla., said. "Republicans are prepared to govern in the majority, and this budget helps us prove it to the American people. Our tried-and-true pro-growth strategy will boost the economy while giving middle and working class Americans more control over their hard-earned money."
The RSC budget is nearly certain not to pass, or even get a vote on the House floor, due to the fact Democrats control both chambers of Congress. Even presidential budgets like the one Biden announced earlier this year are essentially symbolic gestures meant to demonstrate priorities rather than viable legislative proposals.
Accordingly, the RSC budget also includes provisions that don't affect the budget at all. Among them are an opposition to packing the Supreme Court, a proposal to split the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals into two separate circuit courts, support for COVID liability protections for businesses, and opposition to overly burdensome occupational licensing.
The budget also includes a significant number of pro-life provisions and a notable line on the criminal justice front, expressing the RSC's opposition to civil asset forfeiture abuse.
"Under current law, federal, state, and local police can seize an individual’s property unless that individual can prove he or she acquired it legally. This must change," the RSC summary reads. "The RSC Budget supports the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act (FAIR Act), sponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), which would raise the standard to seize assets and reduce incentives for states and localities to unnecessarily seize property in civil forfeiture."
Back on the spending front, the RSC proposal would also notably require a supermajority vote for continuing resolutions – the way the government has often been funded in recent years in lieu of a traditional budget.
"Continuing resolutions simply extend, for a period of time, the discretionary funding levels and accompanying priorities of the previous fiscal year. This represents the height of Congress abandoning its responsibilities by not tackling the mounting debt crisis or taking into consideration the views of its constituents to reform discretionary spending in a way that makes sense for the coming fiscal year," the summary says. "Accordingly, the RSC Budget proposes statutorily requiring a supermajority vote to fund the government through a continuing resolution."
Among other provisions, the budget would institute a permanent ban on earmarks; create special congressional committees to reform Social Security and Medicare trust funds similar to the TRUST Act from Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah; express support for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution; force Congress to stay in session until it completes a budget resolution; end subsidies for crops; get rid of dairy subsidies; end the Federal Communication Commission's Universal Service Fund; tie repayment rates on student loans to the projected earnings in certain programs; make it easier to fire federal employees; reform federal pensions; eliminate the Economic Development Administration; eliminate all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant programs; and much more. According to many, Republicans have lost their credibility on the issue of government spending after four years under former President Trump, when they did little to keep deficits under control. Even before the coronavirus pandemic forced the Trump administration to back record spending, deficit spending increased under Trump from where it had been under former President Obama.
Yet with the pandemic subsiding and concerns about inflation growing, many Republicans are saying it is time to reign in federal spending and focus on trying to balance the federal government's books.
After the presidential election in November, Senate Republican Whip John Thune, R-S.D., told The Hill that cutting spending is "kind of getting back to our DNA... I would expect you'll hear a lot more about that" under President Biden.
Indeed, Republicans voted unanimously against Biden's approximately $2 trillion coronavirus relief plan and are in the process of trying to negotiate the administration down on its also about $2 trillion American Jobs Plan for a more focused infrastructure bill. Republicans are then expected to try to block Biden's American Families Plan entirely once Democrats try to advance that in Congress.
The RSC in its budget summary also goes out of its way to warn about the rapidly increasing national debt, which is now about $28.3 trillion.
"The RSC Budget seeks to achieve all these aims while attaining fiscal discipline and preventing trillions of dollars from being added to the national debt, which defense experts have said is the greatest threat to our national security," it says.