How the Senate’s Budget Resolution Hurts the Most Vulnerable Americans

The Senate Budget Committee’s 2018 budget resolution, which would facilitate $1.5 trillion of deficit-increasing tax cuts, is likely to benefit those Americans who are most well-off and negatively impact those who can least afford it -- especially the elderly and those who depend on Medicaid. Among other things, the resolution proposed by committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) calls for large cuts in health care, assistance programs that help older Americans of modest means make ends meet, and funding for a broad swath of public services and investments -- including education, scientific research, infrastructure, and more -- that support the nation’s economy.  Indeed, approval of this resolution would likely result in millions of Americans ending up worse off, according to analysts at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). The budget plan also has some “sleeper” provisions that change Senate rules for considering budget legislation, the CBPP analysts say. “For instance, it eliminates an existing Senate requirement for a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate a day in advance of votes on the Senate floor on legislation that a committee has reported,” CBPP says. “The recent debate on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal bills shows the importance of having timely CBO analyses.  The budget also includes various other procedural provisions to help clear the way for the tax-cut bill, such as avoiding the “pay-as-you-go” rule that would otherwise apply.”    Enzi’s proposed budget resolution includes four key elements:   1. A fast-track “reconciliation” process that would allow for tax cuts costing $1.5 trillion over ten years that require only a simple majority to pass.  The $1.5 trillion cost would not have to be offset by closing tax loopholes or ending unproductive tax breaks, and thus would add to the nation’s deficits, which are already growing as the baby boomers retire.  In addition, the resolution would allow the Senate Finance Committee to cut critical programs under its jurisdiction, including Medicaid, Medicare, and basic assistance for poor seniors and people with disabilities, and then use those savings to make the tax cuts even larger (so that the net cost of the tax cuts and the budget cuts combined equaled $1.5 trillion).  The reconciliation process is the same process that Congress tried to use to repeal the ACA and requires only [...]

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10/6/17 5:30 PM

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