Biden, GOP release dueling budget blueprints



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President Biden and House Republicans are pushing dueling budget blueprints for the coming year as the battle for control of the White House and Congress heats up.

Biden released his 2025 budget request Monday, and the GOP-controlled House Budget Committee advanced its budget resolution last week. It’s unlikely that either becomes law, but they provide an indication of each side’s priorities heading into the next funding cycle.

Here’s how the early plans compare in key areas.

Taxes

Biden’s plan calls for putting more than $3 trillion toward reducing projected deficits over the next decade, with a major focus on tax changes targeting wealthy individuals and corporations.

The plan includes pitches to increase the corporate tax rate, enact a minimum tax on billionaires and quadruple the stock buybacks tax. It also leans into measures the White House says are aimed at cracking down on “wealthy tax cheats,” targeting former President Trump’s signature 2017 tax plan that Democrats have panned as including tax cuts for the wealthy.

The president’s proposal supports extending tax cuts for Americans making less than $400,000, but with additional reforms, and comes out against policies it says would provide tax cuts for “the top two percent of Americans earning over $400,000” or bring “back deductions and other tax breaks for these households.”

Republicans, on the other hand, have pushed for the extension of the former president’s tax law, which they argued enacted “pro-growth” policies that their budget resolution supports.

“We didn’t create inflation with Tax Cut and Jobs Act, and we grew middle class wages,” Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah) said during a markup of the GOP plan last week. “Quit calling it a tax benefit for the wealthy. It’s not. It grows our economy, so we have a fighting chance to be able to overcome our massive deficits and our ballooning debt.”

Entitlements

The Biden budget request includes a proposal to increase the Medicare tax rate on those earning more $400,000 annually in order to extend the solvency of the program’s Hospital Insurance trust fund.

The budget plan also calls for “closing loopholes in existing Medicare taxes” and “directing revenue from the Net Investment Income Tax into the HI trust fund as was originally intended.”

“Current law lets certain wealthy business owners avoid Medicare taxes on some of the profits they get from passthrough businesses,” the plan says. “The Budget closes the loophole that allows certain business owners to avoid paying Medicare taxes on these profits and raises Medicare tax rates on earned and unearned income from 3.8 percent to 5 percent for those with incomes over $400,000.”

Biden’s budget also calls for extending the solvency of Social Security by “asking the highest income Americans to pay their fair share,” but doesn’t include many specifics.

House Republicans’ budget revived a proposal for a special commission to explore ways to shore up solvency for programs such as Medicare and Social Security, both of which face threats to funding in the coming years.

The proposal calls for the commission to be bipartisan, but the idea has already spurred pushback and mistrust from Democrats, who point to previous proposals by Republicans that seek to tighten eligibility requirements for Social Security.

Spending

While Democrats focus much more on tackling the deficit from the tax side, House Republicans say their budget aims to save trillions of dollars in spending by “resetting and restraining” annual funding for federal programs.

In addition to yanking back funding for economic policies enacted when Democrats last held control of both chambers and curbing further spending, the party says the plan would achieve its goal of balancing the federal budget over the next 10 years.

The proposed cuts have already run afoul of Democrats, who have sought over the past year to underscore the impact sharp spending reductions for nondefense programs would have.

The ambitious proposal has also been met with optimism from some fiscal hawks as a step in the right direction, but others doubt Congress would be able to achieve the changes to balance the budget in the decade ahead.

“The goal of reaching a balanced budget in ten years is completely unrealistic and counterproductive by perpetuating the myth that that is plausible,” Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for Responsible Federal Budget, said in a statement reacting to the House GOP plan.

“To get there, this budget combines genuine savings, which we applaud, along with large unspecified cuts – including to appropriations and improper payments – which will almost certainly not materialize,” said MacGuineas, who similarly said Monday the White House “needs to make debt reduction a major priority and work with Congress to take the issue seriously,” and to “stop making promises about what they won’t do.”

Food assistance 

Biden’s plan highlights a proposed $7.7 billion to “fully fund participation” in the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), while calling for “enhanced benefits for fruits and vegetables” and “an emergency contingency fund that would provide additional resources” when “there are unanticipated cost pressures.”

The GOP resolution, meanwhile, calls on lawmakers to look for “opportunities to strengthen measures related to employment, integrity, and health” for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamps program.

Republicans previously pushed for SNAP changes aimed at ensuring recipients were using benefits to buy “nutritional” foods, while also limiting access to items to foods like soda and candy. The push came as Democrats were pressing for further funding to address a shortfall for WIC.

In an annual rural development and agricultural funding bill that passed last week, Congress approved a boost to WIC, while appearing to reject the SNAP plan.

The push also comes after Republicans pressed for tougher work requirements to the program last year as part of a partisan debt limit bill, which was met with fierce opposition from Democrats.

Border 

The president’s budget request calls for a 2 percent boost to funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) above fiscal 2023 levels, totaling more than $62 billion in discretionary budget authority for the coming fiscal year.

“The Budget also includes a proposed $4.7 billion Southwest Border Contingency Fund to respond to changing conditions on the Southwest border, which, if fully accessed, would increase the DHS request to 10 percent above the 2023 level,” the plan says.

White House officials also noted Monday that the plan re-ups the president’s supplemental requests for emergency spending for border security, Ukraine and Israel.

“We had to re-ask for the president’s supplemental again in this budget, because Congress has not passed the president’s supplemental. It is very frustrating,” Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young told reporters, adding that “the president’s asked over four times for more border security funding to be given.”

Democrats had been pushing for the passage of a national security and foreign aid package that included a bipartisan border deal worked out in the Senate. However, the deal collapsed earlier this year amid pushback from Republicans demanding stricter measures on the border.

In their budget resolution, House Republicans recommend Congress implement H.R. 2, also known Secure the Border Act of 2023. The party’s flagship border bill passed the House last year without a single Democratic vote.

It aims to boost construction of the southern border wall and includes severe asylum access restrictions, among other proposals that have made the bill a non-starter in the Democratic-led Senate.

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