In the days leading up to the Senate’s decision to repeal Obamacare, Republicans and the media told us that a 10-year budget plan was the best “vehicle” to repeal Obamacare. Were they right? Yes.
Like it or not, Senators are legally prohibited from filibustering budget “reconciliations” under the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Thus, no filibuster–and therefore 60-vote requirement–could have blocked Obamacare repeal or a fiscally conservative budget. With a 52-member majority, this route was truly the “fast track”, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell coined it, to repealing Obamacare and saving our country from sky-high insurance premiums. Also, these 52 Republicans could save our country from a debt crisis by writing in whatever numbers they want. We should celebrate first.
What a beautiful and diabolical way to kick off the new anti-establishment conservative era: Republicans can get rid of Obamacare and balance the budget, and here is a grand slam bill that only required support from 51 of 52 Republicans. Blissfully, we remind Democrats that after all, Obamacare was first imposed on our country via a budget reconciliation; it is only fitting to get rid of it the same way. Conservatives chuckle.
Conservatives held every ounce of the power. With nothing else to do, Democrat leadership held a solemn “Make America Sick Again” cry rally to lament over the likely loss of Medicaid expansion, the individual mandate, and (at least Bernie’s honest here) the planned transition to socialist healthcare. They also know that Republicans have sole control of the budget, and Republicans will set the tone for the next 10 years of spending. No one can stop the Republicans from balancing the budget besides themselves.
To repeat, Senators: no one can stop the Republicans from bringing the deficit from $500 billion per year to $0 per year. Better yet, Republicans can start creating budget surpluses by cutting entitlements, all while paying less interest on the debt and creating room in the budget for Trump’s much-needed tax plan. With a responsible budget, we can give back billions in stolen money to American businesses and workers, saving thousands of jobs and allowing the economy to grow again. This Republican-owned budget can be the capitalist springboard for the slowly-recovering American economy.
Thankfully, difficult math or difficult logistics and implementation isn’t stopping them either. It is simply “just numbers”, as Senator Rand Paul parroted Republican leadership in his protest speech against Senate Concurrent Resolution 3, which sets the standard for federal spending and taxing from 2017 to 2026. The majority of S. Con. Res. 3’s text consists of lists outlining “appropriate” spending and taxing levels, and here is what the conservative majority came up with:
“(4) DEFICITS.—For purposes of the enforcement of this resolution, the amounts of the deficits are as follows:
Fiscal year 2017: $582,574,000,000. Fiscal year 2018: $541,560,000,000. Fiscal year 2019: $673,600,000,000. Fiscal year 2020: $728,659,000,000. Fiscal year 2021: $785,164,000,000. Fiscal year 2022: $897,085,000,000. Fiscal year 2023: $892,854,000,000. Fiscal year 2024: $863,233,000,000. Fiscal year 2025: $946,057,000,000. Fiscal year 2026: $1,008,577,000,000.”
“(5) PUBLIC DEBT.—Pursuant to section 301(a)(5) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (2 U.S.C. 632(a)(5)), the appropriate levels of the public debt are as follows:
Fiscal year 2017: $20,034,788,000,000. Fiscal year 2018: $20,784,183,000,000. Fiscal year 2019: $21,625,729,000,000. Fiscal year 2020: $22,504,763,000,000. Fiscal year 2021: $23,440,271,000,000. Fiscal year 2022: $24,509,421,000,000. Fiscal year 2023: $25,605,527,000,000. Fiscal year 2024: $26,701,273,000,000. Fiscal year 2025: $27,869,175,000,000. Fiscal year 2026: $29,126,158,000,000.”
Yes, you read that right. It never plans to balance, fully intending to keep us on the unsustainable path of fiscal irresponsibility and add more than $9 trillion to the debt. What is worse, however, and mentioned less often: this fully plans to increase taxes, rather than cut them and fulfill every Senate Republican’s campaign promise.
“(A) The recommended levels of Federal revenues are as follows:
Fiscal year 2017: $2,682,088,000,000. Fiscal year 2018: $2,787,834,000,000. Fiscal year 2019: $2,884,637,000,000. Fiscal year 2020: $3,012,645,000,000. Fiscal year 2021: $3,131,369,000,000. Fiscal year 2022: $3,262,718,000,000. Fiscal year 2023: $3,402,888,000,000. Fiscal year 2024: $3,556,097,000,000.
Fiscal year 2025: $3,727,756,000,000.
Fiscal year 2026: $3,903,628,000,000.”
Thus, smelling the hypocrisy of a Republican majority raising taxes and spending, Republican Senator Rand Paul proposed a replacement which simply listed lower numbers, outlining a plan to balance before 2026:
“(4) Deficits.–For purposes of the enforcement of this resolution, the amounts of the deficits are as follows: Fiscal year 2017: $582,570,000,000.
Fiscal year 2018: $477,050,000,000.
Fiscal year 2019: $409,980,000,000.
Fiscal year 2020: $314,540,000,000. Fiscal year 2021: $232,080,000,000. Fiscal year 2022: $140,670,000,000. Fiscal year 2023: $41,860,000,000. Fiscal year 2024: -$68,390,000,000. Fiscal year 2025: -$191,380,000,000. Fiscal year 2026: -$314,150,000,000.”
Sen. Paul’s plan, S. Amdt. 1 to S. Con. Res. 3, still waits for 8 years to balance the budget, slightly decreasing spending at slow rate of around $100 billion per year until arriving at a small budget surplus in 2024. Frankly, this is a weak plan from a conservative’s standpoint, especially considering that no Democrat votes are required to pass this budget. A moderate plan at best, this bill still adds more than $7 trillion to the debt:
“(5) Public debt.–Pursuant to section 301(a)(5) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (2 U.S.C. 632(a)(5)), the appropriate levels of the public debt are as follows:
Fiscal year 2017: $20,034,790,000,000. Fiscal year 2018: $20,719,451,000,000. Fiscal year 2019: $21,326,280,000,000. Fiscal year 2020: $22,018,470,000,000. Fiscal year 2021: $22,775,170,000,000. Fiscal year 2022: $23,596,110,000,000. Fiscal year 2023: $24,553,462,050,000. Fiscal year 2024: $25,523,091,900,000. Fiscal year 2025: $26,431,371,000,000. Fiscal year 2026: $27,445,091,000,000.”
Nonetheless, this was an improvement. Did it also plan to “raise revenues”, or increase taxes? Yes, and at the exact same rate as the first bill. Sen. Paul’s amendment was simply to show that a balanced budget can be done. Also, no one could fear that grandmas would be thrown off of cliffs, or that the military would run out of bombs, for Paul’s amendment didn’t even touch Social Security, Medicare, or military spending.
Now, we know that all Republican Senators, besides Sen. Paul, agreed to pass the spending bill to repeal Obamacare and intentionally not balance the budget, with a 51-48 vote. But who agreed to the moderate conservative proposal to repeal Obamacare and balance the budget?
Both bills planned to repeal Obamacare. However, only 14 Republican Senators prefer a fiscally conservative budget over a liberal one. We need a conservative majority.
For more information on Brewer and his work, check out his portfolio for The Coolidge Review.