More budgetary fraud from the Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight

Well, it didn’t take the Gang Who Couldn’t Straight very long. House Republicans stall their own budget as two forms of extremism collide:

House Republicans continue to be spectacularly unable to get anything done. Wednesday night they couldn’t even get their own budget out of committee, because the warmongers want more defense spending and the cut-everything caucus won’t go along.

GOP leaders had hoped that an amendment from Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) bumping up funding in a war account to $96 billion, and requiring no offsets for that spending, would win over members of the Armed Services Committee and other lawmakers who had demanded that defense spending at least match the level requested by Obama. [House Budget Committee Chair Tom] Price had downplayed the chances this week that such a proposal could pass his committee, aides said, even as leadership was pushing for it. […]But the amendment sparked a revolt by fiscal conservatives [who want to keep the budget sequestration caps], leading to a late-night recess and eventual capitulation for the evening by Price on his proposal.

The Budget panel went into recess late Wednesday night as Price and McCarthy sought to convince their side to agree to the resolution.

Republican leaders Senator Mitch McConnell and John Boehner speak after a bipartisan meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House in WashingtonAfter some arm twisting,  the House Budget Committee eventually approved the House GOP budget resolution on a vote of 22-13.

No matter, because the House GOP budget resolution is already DOA in the GOP Senate, which put forward its own budget proposal on Wednesday. Senate Republicans Rebuff House Colleagues With Their Budget Plan:

Senate Republicans on Wednesday released an austere budget that maintains strict caps on military spending and cuts trillions of dollars from health care and welfare, sending a rebuff to their House colleagues.

House Republicans are trying to evade the spending caps by adding close to $40 billion to military spending through an “emergency” war funding account that is not subject to the limits. Not only did Senate budget writers not follow suit, they included language in their budget requiring 60 votes in the Senate on any measure that used that approach.

The Senate budget also relies on a significant gimmick: It repeals the health law but also assumes that $2 trillion from the law’s tax increases continues to flow into the Treasury.

But the primary flash point is likely to be over military spending. The budget does little to allay concerns of Republican defense hawks that spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 are significantly undermining Defense Department operations. Rather than adding spending above the cap levels, the Senate plan creates what is known as a “deficit neutral reserve fund,” which would allow negotiators later this year to reach an accord that overrides the 2011 budget law.

The approach does not have unanimous Republican support.

“That’s totally unacceptable,” said Senator John McCain of Arizona, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He said an empty reserve fund “is like saying we’re giving you a bucket of water, only the bucket is empty.”

With the release of the Senate budget, Republicans in both chambers now face the task of agreeing on a plan that will set overall spending levels next year and signal the legislative direction Congress will take on issues from Medicare, the military and tax reform.

It will not be easy. In addition to differences over military spending, the Senate budget stepped away from the sharp policy changes explicitly embraced by House colleagues, like converting Medicare into a semiprivatized system with vouchers to buy insurance.

Both budget committees should complete work by Thursday on their plans.

The GOP Senate budget is just as much a fraud and a lack of seriousness about governing responsibly as the GOP House budget:

The first Senate Republican budget since 2006 is long on ambition but short on details. It foresees cutting $4.3 trillion from mandatory programs like Medicare, food stamps and Medicaid, but unlike the House budget, it does not make specific policy prescriptions, such as converting Medicare into a voucherlike program that would allow recipients to buy subsidized insurance on the private health care market.

The budget offers up $430 billion in cuts from Medicare without saying how. It does require a change to Medicaid to cede much of its administration and control to state governments, saving $400 billion over 10 years. But by maintaining coverage requirements for the low-income elderly and people with disabilities, the Senate’s Medicaid savings amount to less than half the House’s proposed $913 billion cut.

The plan also assumes billions of dollars in reductions from scaling back education programs, freezing Pell Grants for higher education, and curbing regulatory action under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street law passed after the financial crisis. Spending on domestic programs under congressional discretion would be cut $97 billion below the caps already imposed.

The first Senate Republican budget since 2006 is long on ambition but short on details. It foresees cutting $4.3 trillion from mandatory programs like Medicare, food stamps and Medicaid, but unlike the House budget, it does not make specific policy prescriptions, such as converting Medicare into a voucherlike program that would allow recipients to buy subsidized insurance on the private health care market.

The budget offers up $430 billion in cuts from Medicare without saying how. It does require a change to Medicaid to cede much of its administration and control to state governments, saving $400 billion over 10 years. But by maintaining coverage requirements for the low-income elderly and people with disabilities, the Senate’s Medicaid savings amount to less than half the House’s proposed $913 billion cut.

The plan also assumes billions of dollars in reductions from scaling back education programs, freezing Pell Grants for higher education, and curbing regulatory action under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street law passed after the financial crisis. Spending on domestic programs under congressional discretion would be cut $97 billion below the caps already imposed.

* * *

Even without more “emergency” spending, the Senate plan has plenty of its own questionable assumptions. To get to a small surplus in 2025, the budget’s reductions from entitlement programs jump from $534 billion in 2023 and 2024 to $725 billion the year the budget ostensibly balances.

It assumes economic growth prompted by deficit reduction would reduce the deficit even more, by $164 billion over the next decade, and $55 billion in 2025 alone.

Then there is the $2 trillion in tax revenues assumed even after the repeal of the health care taxes that produce it. Republican aides said nothing in the budget precludes the Finance Committee from creating an overhaul of the tax code this year that would bring in that revenue without the health law.

But nothing in the budget orders that overhaul, either.

This is the return of the GOP’s “magic asterisk” that first appeared in a proposal President Reagan’s budget director David Stockman submitted to Congress more than 30 years ago. The GOP and their ‘magic asterisks’:

asteriskIn 1981, the newly inaugurated Reagan administration presented Congress with a budget plan filled with an odd little trick that came to be known as the “magic asterisk.” The technique, as Michael Kinsley explained a few decades ago, “consisted of hiding phony cuts in the small print of various budget documents in order to exaggerate the Administration’s success in spending reduction and to minimize the projected deficit.”

In effect, the “magic asterisk” represented illusory spending cuts that the Reagan White House promised to figure out later. The new Republican administration didn’t want to come right out and say, “We can’t figure out how to make our numbers add up,” so they used the asterisks as placeholders.

At the time, some Republicans in Congress weren’t quite sold on the idea, so Reagan’s aides asked allies in the media to attack them. It worked – GOP lawmakers “beat a tactical retreat” and gave in to Reagan’s bogus budget games. The result was some of the largest deficits in American history, even after Reagan had promised the country the opposite.

A generation later, congressional Republicans aren’t questioning the trick; they’re embracing it. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) took a look at the new House GOP budget blueprint and told the Washington Post, “They have a magic asterisk.”

Hoyer was apparently not referring to an actual asterisk, but to a row of figures with the innocuous label “Other Mandatory” in one of several tables at the back of the document. The numbers show that Republicans are planning to save $1.1 trillion over 10 years by reducing outlays for mandatory spending other than on health care and Social Security, a drastic reduction for that category as compared to current policy.

It was not immediately clear where the savings would come from, but they’re necessary in order for the budget to balance within a decade, as Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said it would.

House Republicans started with a vision: increase defense spending while balancing the budget within 10 years, without raising any taxes on anyone. The problem, as Reagan and his aides discovered in the 1980s, is that this really can’t be done without “magic.”

GOP “fuzzy math” is now and has always been lies and a fraud. These people are not serious about governing responsibly.

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