Our budget, Building A Better America, balances within 10 years. For too long, the federal government’s excessive spending has put future generations at risk. Massive tax increases or crippling austerity measures are the natural conclusion of our current rate of spending, and future generations will pay the price. Failure to take swift and decisive action is not only inexcusable, it is immoral.
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Meeting the government’s fiscal challenges will be a daunting task, requiring conviction and resolve. Governing is hard. Then again, Members of Congress are elected not to do what is easy, but to do what is right. This budget resolution starts the process. It retains longstanding beliefs about budgeting and governing. It reverses the drift toward excessive spending and larger government; it reinforces the innovation and creativity stirring in the myriad institutions and communities across the country; and it revitalizes the prosperity that creates ever-expanding opportunities for all Americans to pursue their destinies. Like any good budget resolution, our FY 2018 budget expresses a vision of governing, and of America itself.
Our blueprint discusses the following major themes of the budget:
Balancing the Budget
The resolution draws a path toward a balanced budget within 10 years, without raising taxes, and places the government on a fiscal course sustainable for the long term. The national debt is already an impediment to greater prosperity and a threat to the security of future generations. This committee’s budget significantly reduces spending and reforms government programs to put us on a sustainable spending path.
Promoting Economic Growth
For the past eight years, government has been a hindrance to economic growth. This budget urges reversing this trend with a combination of pro-growth policies, including deficit reduction, spending restraint, comprehensive tax reform, welfare reform, Obamacare repeal-and-replace legislation, and regulatory reform. All can promote more robust growth over the longer term.
Ensuring a Strong National Defense
Defending America’s security is the highest priority of the Federal Government. To that end, this budget supports robust funding for troop training, equipment, compensation, and improved readiness.
Improving the Sustainability of Medicare
Notwithstanding Medicare’s popularity, there are far better ways to achieve the program’s worthy goals. Retirees should be able to choose the coverage plan best suited to their particular needs, rather than accept a set of benefits dictated by Washington. The program should ensure doctors and patients make health care decisions for themselves, and promote competition among insurers to expand choices of coverage and restrain costs. Reforms such as these will have the added benefit of improving Medicare’s long-term financial condition, ensuring it will be there for future generations.
Restoring the Proper Role of State and Local Governments
The resolution encourages the innovation and creativity of State and local governments. It calls for returning significant authority to the States, which possess not only the ability but also the will to reform and modernize programs that serve their citizens. The laboratories of democracy, not the Federal Government, are where these reforms should happen.
Reforming Government Programs While Improving Accountability
Every tax dollar collected by the Federal Government was generated by private-sector economic activity. Responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars is a fundamental component of the budget resolution. At every opportunity possible, the budget reforms government programs and improves accountability to while generating better outcomes for Americans.
The Ways and Means Committee is being reconciled for deficit-neutral tax reform. Additionally, there are 11 authorizing committees being reconciled for at least $203 billion in mandatory savings and reforms.
While the final reconciliation package will be one bill, tax reform and mandatory savings will be different exercises. Tax reform will be deficit neutral on its own. Mandatory reforms will produce at least $203 billion in savings for deficit reduction, not to pay for tax reform or any other spending priorities.
There is no double counting in the House budget. The budget assumes that 2.6 percent average annual economic growth is achieved from tax reform, welfare reform, spending restraint, the administration’s regulatory reforms, and Obamacare repeal and replace legislation. Applying CBO’s economic rules of thumb, 2.6 percent average growth yields a macroeconomic effect on the budget of $1.8 trillion. The budget assumes that $1.5 trillion of this total reduces the deficit. Not taking this $300 billion into account in the deficit calculation is based on House Budget Committee staff’s review of several estimates by non-governmental and governmental entities of the growth potential for various tax reform proposals.
Yes, the budget assumes the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) including the use of tax credits, repeal of tax increases, and Medicaid reforms. The additional health care options proposed by this budget resolution are possible reforms to further the good work done by AHCA. These reforms would continue on the path of restoring the American health care system to a patient-centered model.
Under the premium support system our budget envisions, Medicare beneficiaries would pick from a list of federally certified plans to best suit their needs. The government would make a payment directly to the insurers to cover the cost of that plan. Coverage would be guaranteed, and traditional Medicare would always be available for those in the program and for future generations. It would operate in a manner similar to Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D – both popular with today’s seniors – and employer-sponsored-insurance, which most people are familiar with.
In addition to the Medicaid reforms from the American Health Care Act, the budget proposes a mandatory work requirement for able-bodied, non-elderly, non-pregnant adults without dependents who are enrolled in Medicaid, while exempting those who cannot work. It also proposes to restore parity to Medicaid by ensuring that those above the poverty line are not awarded more federal assistance than those below it. The Medicaid proposals in the budget put America’s most vulnerable first.
This budget strengthens the Disability Insurance program by putting an end to the “double- dipping” loophole that currently allows individuals to receive both unemployment insurance and disability insurance simultaneously.
Congress has performed its duty to provide adequate resources to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and conduct important oversight of the department. The VA needs to adopt a new way of thinking to address its most challenging problems, such as ensuring access to health care, quality and delivery of programs, and cost management. This budget supports the continued oversight efforts of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to ensure the VA is accountable and transparent in their work and that our veterans receive effective and efficient health care services and benefits.
Veterans are a top priority in this budget. Our budget provides a 6 percent increase in budget authority for veterans’ benefits and services relative to fiscal year 2017 enacted levels. This is in addition to the 27 percent increase in discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs that has occurred over the past six years. However, given the continued failures of the VA to effectively and efficiently deliver health care services and benefits to America’s veterans, it is clear that the VA has a management problem, not a money problem. Consequently, this budget calls for meaningful reforms at the VA to improve the delivery of health care services and benefits to our nation’s veterans, including employee reform, addressing the Government Accountability Office’s ‘high-risk’ status, reducing improper payments, and more accountability overall.
This budget fully funds the Department of Homeland Security and the agencies (Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement) responsible for keeping our country safe from those who wish to enter illegally. By allowing CBP and ICE to continue to recruit, train, and deploy agents necessary to increase our nation’s operational security, this budget makes domestic national security paramount. Border wall funding is also included in this budget through various Department of Homeland Security construction accounts to not only construct new fencing and replace ineffective fencing and barriers, but also to establish forward operating bases and surveillance technology along our southern border.
Yes. Government-wide improper payments totaled over $140 billion in 2016 and over the next 10 years will likely total more than $1.4 trillion. This budget supports the establishment of a special commission that would be charged with finding ways to tangibly reduce improper payments by 50 percent within the next five years.
This timeframe recognizes that this problem is complex, and there is not a silver-bullet solution that could be implemented overnight. This commission should methodically solicit input from experts within government, such as GAO, and the private sector to determine the best ways to tackle this problem.
In a Budget Committee hearing with OMB Director Mulvaney earlier this year, he addressed the issue of improper payments and said that a goal of reducing improper payments by 40 to 50 percent is the right target and should be attainable.