WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a budget that makes deep cuts in food stamps and other social safety net programs while boosting military spending by billions, a blueprint that pleases neither conservatives nor moderates.
The GOP plan, authored by Budget Chairman Diane Black, R-Tenn., is critical to GOP hopes to deliver on one of President Donald Trump’s top priorities — a Republican-only effort to overhaul the tax code. Unclear, however, is whether GOP leaders can get the measure through the House. Conservatives want deeper spending cuts while moderates are concerned the reductions go too far.
Black announced a committee vote for Wednesday, but action by the entire House could be delayed by the ongoing quarrel between the GOP’s factions.
Medicare is the second largest mandatory program after Social Security, and the House GOP plan again proposes to turn Medicare into a voucher-like program in which future retirees would receive a fixed benefit to purchase health insurance on the open market. Republicans have proposed the idea each year since taking back the House in 2011, but they’ve never tried to implement it — and that’s not going to change now, even with a Republican as president.
The plan, in theory at least, promises to balance the budget through unprecedented and unworkable cuts across the budget. It calls for turning this year’s projected $700 billion or so deficit into a tiny $9 billion surplus by 2027. It would do so by slashing $5.4 trillion over the coming decade, including almost $500 billion from Medicare, $1.5 trillion from Medicaid and the Obama health law, along with enormous cuts to benefits such as federal employee pensions, food stamps, and tax credits for the working poor.