By Jason Hughey
This is the second in series of blog posts focusing on the federal budget proposals in Congress. The first post focused on Chairman Ryan’s plan, this second post focuses on the Senate Democrats’ plan, and subsequent posts will focus important differences between the two plans.
For the first time in nearly four years, the Senate Budget Committee produced a federal budget yesterday. Under the direction of new Chairman Patty Murray, Senate Democrats want to continue to raise taxes, grow federal spending, and increase government control over the economy. The numbers are staggering: All in all, this budget spends $46 trillion over the next ten years, adds $7.3 trillion to the national debt, and raises taxes by $1.5 trillion in addition the $620 billion in tax hikes from the fiscal cliff deal.
OVERALL SPENDING LEVELS
Chairman Murray’s budget raises spending in 2014 by $162 billion compared to the CBO’s 2013 baseline. This is due in part to the fact that Chairman Murray’s budget attempts to replace the sequester’s mild spending cuts (which took effect on March 1 of this year) with new tax hikes.
This budget proposal from Chairman Murray claims to cut spending, but it in fact does the opposite. Looking at the data, her budget spends even more than the CBO baseline in the first two years. In order to defend the talking point of cutting spending, she reduces the rate of spending growth in the last few years of her budget projection. Overall, her budget will spend $46 trillion over the next ten years.
Chairman Murray’s budget is not only a big spending increase; it is an enormous tax increase, too. The budget advertises that its tax increases will total $923 billion over the next ten years by cutting tax deductions and credits for so-called “wealthy” Americans and businesses. These tax increases alone would be unacceptably harmful to economic growth, but the budget includes more than $500 billion in additional hidden taxes. Murray turns off a portion of the sequester by raising taxes $480 billion and closing $100 billion of tax provisions to pay for more failed stimulus spending.
Furthermore, Chairman Murray’s budget does not match the decrease in deductions with a decrease in rates, making this budget just another economically harmful tax hike.
In general, Chairman Murray’s budget fails to address the fiscal crisis that is fast-approaching for Medicare and Medicaid. The Senate budget permanently increases Medicare payments to doctors while also ending any sequestration cuts to Medicare. It refuses to structurally reform Medicaid through block grants and dubiously claims that it won’t shift any costs to the states. In reality, under current law, Medicaid will continue to be a huge cost increase for states starting in 2017 due to the costs they will have to entail by enacting the Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare. Chairman Murray’s budget also presumes that the President’s health care law will somehow magically reduce health care prices for all Americans even though health insurance premiums have continued to rise since ObamaCare was enacted into law.
Ultimately, this budget makes no serious attempts to address our current health care cost crisis and assumes that ever-bigger government can cure the problems caused by previous government interventions in health care.
ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Chairman Murray’s budget doubles-down on the failed policy of empowering the abusive regulatory practices of the EPA to hound companies under entirely absurd justifications. The budget champions the notion that, by preventing sequestration from affecting the EPA, it will enable the EPA to continue to regulate economic activity for beneficial environmental ends. In reality, it will continue to fund the EPA’s abusive regulations, such as their destructive Utility MACT rule.
HOUSING AND FINANCIAL SERVICES
This budget continues to back failed housing policies by continuing to prop up Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration to continue to receive funding at taxpayer expense. Extensive research has shown that not only were federal housing policies partially to blame for causing the housing bubble, but also that the Federal Housing Administration is doing so poorly in its financials, that it will likely need another taxpayer bailout in the future to remain solvent. Chairman Murray’s budget confirms that the taxpayers will continue to be drained for the purpose of crony interests in the housing market.
Chairman Murray’s budget does not acknowledge Social Security’s coming fiscal insolvency and consequently provides no solution to restore individual freedom to Americans in their ability to provide for their own retirement. In fact, her budget would be hostile to any solution to return retirement security back to the individuals that can best prepare for their own retirement: namely, you.
Americans for Prosperity opposes this bloated budget that rests upon higher taxes, increasing the size of government, and removing freedom from Americans. Consequently, we cannot support the Senate Democrats’ out-of-control tax-and-spend approach to budgeting. In the long run, it can only harm the foundations of economic growth and continue to propel America toward a national debt crisis.