McManus: Biden made opening funds bid. What’s the GOP plan?
President Biden unveiled his $6.8-trillion funds proposal final week, and it drew the customary jaded responses: a piece of fiction. A celebration platform with value tags. And, in fact, useless on arrival.
All true. But from Biden’s standpoint, the funds rollout was a convincing success that served two functions.
It put the president the place he needs to be as he prepares an anticipated reelection marketing campaign, with one foot in his get together’s middle and one in its progressive left.
Biden gave centrists a promise to chop future deficits by nearly $3 trillion and shore up Medicare’s deteriorating funds.
But he additionally requested for extra funding for youngster care, elder care and combating local weather change, and stated he’d pay for the entire package deal by elevating taxes on companies and the rich.
In a campaign-style speech at a union corridor within the swing state of Pennsylvania, he stated his funds was designed to “give working-class folks a fighting chance.” Expect to listen to extra of that as he tries to woo these voters subsequent 12 months.
More necessary, the funds was Biden’s opening supply in a battle over federal spending that’s more likely to devour the remainder of the 12 months.
The president is aware of the Republican-led House of Representatives gained’t comply with the social applications he’s proposed or the tax will increase to pay for them.
Beyond marketing campaign positioning, his actual objective was to nudge House Republicans towards severe negotiations and a vote to boost the debt ceiling, which limits authorities borrowing.
Republicans have stated they gained’t increase it except they get deep spending cuts in return — an ultimatum that dangers touching off a catastrophic failure by the federal government to pay its payments. But they haven’t settled on a complete listing of the cuts they need; there’s no official GOP funds proposal.
They’ve principally recycled conventional conservative calls for for cuts in spending they think about wasteful, plus one revolutionary wrinkle: They’ve promised to trim the funds by eliminating “woke spending.”
And what, you could ask, is that? The definition isn’t clear.
Judging from the examples Republicans supply, woke spending seems to incorporate something conservative voters don’t like: racial fairness efforts, particularly within the armed forces; applications aimed toward serving to LGBTQ folks; and something to do with local weather change.
Plus a strolling path within the Atlanta suburbs. A $3.6-million federal grant to increase the Michelle Obama Trail is on the House Budget Committee’s hit listing of “woke waste.” If the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners had named the trail after Rosalynn Carter, it won’t be in as a lot bother.
But chopping each penny of so-called woke spending, irrespective of how broadly the time period is outlined, gained’t get rid of the deficit.
The “woke waste” listing was compiled by House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), who has provided the closest factor Republicans must a plan.
Arrington has proposed chopping home spending by $150 billion subsequent 12 months. That feels like lots, however it might cut back the federal deficit by solely about 9%.
And that will get us to the House Republicans’ actual downside: They’ve boxed themselves in to a fiscal lure, thanks principally to former President Trump.
For many years, conservatives proposed balancing the funds partly by chopping future spending on Social Security and Medicare.
But Trump deserted that doctrine, and different Republicans, together with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, fell in line — regardless that fiscal specialists in each events acknowledge that the applications are heading towards monetary bother.
So whereas Republicans need spending cuts, they’ve dominated out taking them from the largest applications: Social Security, Medicare and protection.
To steadiness the funds inside 10 years, as they are saying they need to do, they would wish to chop nearly each different a part of the federal government by an unrealistic 85%, in keeping with the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
Biden has taken Social Security and Medicare off the desk, too, however he has constructed himself an escape hatch: He needs to boost taxes on companies and individuals who make greater than $400,000 a 12 months. That would permit him to place cash into Medicare and cut back the nationwide debt.
Republicans have sworn by no means to boost taxes, so they should discover one other resolution to the mathematics downside. They haven’t.
That’s why the hazard of a funds disaster — not solely a authorities shutdown, however a catastrophic default on the federal debt — seems to be larger this 12 months than ever earlier than.
The method to avert such a disaster is to start severe negotiations. Biden’s funds proposal has put the ball in McCarthy’s courtroom. Where’s his plan?