On Tuesday, U.S. House Republican leadership unveiled their conservative budget proposal that seeks to eliminate the federal deficit over the next ten years.
The budget bill, constructed by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), reduces federal spending by $5.5 trillion over the next decade, and promises a surplus of funds by the year 2026.
Republicans assert that this budget would not raise taxes on any Americans, but would balance the federal budget by trimming wasteful spending and reforming entitlement programs including Medicare and Medicaid.
A program that has consistently required infusions of federal funds, Medicare would be transformed into a premium system that provides vouchers for retirees to purchase their own private insurance. Medicaid would also be converted to a block grant program, in order to give states increased flexibility and freedom.
The budget also prioritizes defense and national security spending by adding close to $40 billion in “emergency” war funding to next year’s defense budget. This would represent a significant raise to military spending without technically breaking the stringent limits enacted by the 2011 Budget Control Act.
Popular federal higher education grants known as “Pell Grants” would be preserved and made “permanently sustainable” by the bill. However, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps, would be streamlined and transformed into a State Flexibility Fund.
Repeals of two of President Obama’s signature legislative achievements, Obamacare and a 2010 law that imposes several financial regulations known as the Dodd-Frank Act, are also promised in the budget proposal.
Democrats immediately criticized the proposal, claiming that fails to provide adequate funding and does not offer solutions to many of the important issues facing America today.
“It’s not a budget that reflects growth,” said President Obama on Tuesday. “We’re going to have a robust debate.”
Obama’s own budget proposal, which he released last month, would increase federal spending by nearly $74 billion, undo the spending cuts caused by sequestration, and increase taxes on the wealthy in order to fund the spending increases.
In another move on Tuesday to encourage limited spending and financial responsibility, Maine’s first-term Representative Bruce Poliquin spoke Tuesday at a Republican press conference to urge the passage of a balanced budget constitutional amendment.
“As Maine State Treasurer, I worked with all parties, to make sure we balanced our books and started paying down our debt, and we did it without raising taxes. Now it’s time Washington does the same,” said Poliquin.
*Editors Note: This story previously reported that Rep. Bruce Poliquin had endorsed the budget, however Rep. Boliquin is reportedly still evaluating the full impact of the proposal.