House Republicans unveiled a 2019 budget proposal Tuesday to send a message to their core supporters that repealing Obamacare, cutting taxes and partially privatizing Medicare remain high on their agenda.
The budget, which claims to balance by 2027 through $8 trillion in spending cuts, seeks to revive the deficit-cutting mantle for Republicans after a two-year deal that increased spending by $300 billion. A massive tax cut approved last year is expected to add $2 trillion in deficits over 10 years.
The budget proposal lays out a platform for the Republicans to run on in November. Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to win the House and the party has reason to be optimistic about achieving that goal in November’s election.
The new measure would keep the 2019 discretionary spending level, avoiding a showdown with Democrats that could lead to another government shutdown. The plan calls for defense spending increases and cuts to domestic discretionary spending in later years.
Authored by House Budget Chairman Steve Womack of Arkansas, the plan is set for a committee vote Thursday ahead of a possible House floor vote next week. The original deadline for adoption of a House-Senate budget was April 15.
To win conservative support, the budget would fast-track at least $302 billion in spending cuts over 10 years through a process that requires only 50 votes to pass the Senate, avoiding a Democratic filibuster, as long as the plan doesn’t increase deficits after 10 years. The same reconciliation process was used in the failed attempt last year to repeal Obamacare and for the successful passage of the tax-code overhaul.
The budget would let congressional committees try once again to repeal the Affordable Care Act and enact a new tax law. The 2017 tax law contained individual rate cuts that expire in 2026, and many Republicans want to extend those in a new bill.
“This budget assumes Congress repeals Obamacare and replaces it with a patient-centered, free-market health care system,” the budget summary states. It calls for a private Medicare “premium support” system to compete with traditional Medicare, setting work requirements for Medicaid, and for trimming other welfare programs.
While the Senate is unlikely to adopt its own budget to take up these initiatives before the November congressional election, the budget process could be used by lame-duck lawmakers after the election to ram through Republican-only legislation.