WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Steve Womack unveiled a budget blueprint Tuesday that he said would prevent trillions of dollars of additional deficit spending over the next decade and achieve a balanced federal budget by fiscal 2027.
Womack, a Republican from Rogers, is the House Budget Committee chairman. He said the plan would help restore fiscal discipline and rein in out-of-control spending.
However, Democrats said the budget resolution, if adopted, would decimate Medicaid, Medicare and other programs benefiting the poor and elderly.
The 27-page document, titled "A Brighter American Future," says the proposal "would yield $8.1 trillion in deficit reduction compared to current projections over the next 10 years."
The reduction includes $302 billion in savings that would be identified by 11 House committees.
The House Budget Committee is scheduled to take up the proposal this afternoon and Thursday.
Among other things, the budget plan calls for eliminating duplicative government programs and for targeting "waste, fraud, and abuse throughout the government."
It suggests capping Medicaid spending, repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, placing limits on medical liability suits, selling 100 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, overhauling federal pension programs, limiting Pell Grant programs for low-income students and partially privatizing Medicare.
In a written statement, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget praised Womack for releasing the budget resolution and for seeking to curtail spending. But the nonpartisan group questioned whether the plan would really prevent $8.1 trillion in deficit spending, arguing that "most of these savings come from rosy economic assumptions or unreconciled and often unrealistic spending cuts."
At a news conference Tuesday, Womack and other Republicans on the committee said the proposal would steer the country in the right direction.
"The budget for a Brighter American Future lays out the tough decisions needed in the short term to deal with the nation's debt problem. Through thoughtful reforms to spending, this budget confronts the rapidly rising $21 trillion of debt and ultimately sets the nation on a sustainable path," Womack said.
Budget blueprint from House Budget CommitteeView
"This is a good budget. It's a responsible budget," said U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio. "Rising deficits and the growing national debt pose the greatest threat to America's future prosperity."
"This budget puts us back on the path to fiscal responsibility," said U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-Ga.
But U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, the ranking Democrat on the budget committee, said the proposal would be harmful.
"The 2019 Republican budget scraps any sense of responsibility to the American people and any obligation to being honest," he said in a written statement.
The proposal's "repeal of the Affordable Care Act and extreme cuts to health care, retirement security, anti-poverty programs, education, infrastructure, and other critical investments are real and will inflict serious harm on American families," he said. "The rest of this budget is a fabrication, fantasy numbers solely designed to hide the deficit exploding impact of the GOP's $2 trillion in tax cuts for millionaires and big corporations, while forcing American families to pay the price."
The federal deficit for fiscal 2018 is forecast to be $804 billion and is to climb above $1 trillion in fiscal 2020, according to an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office.
The tax overhaul, supported by Republicans and signed into law by President Donald Trump in December, has led to higher deficit forecasts. A $1.3 trillion spending package, approved by Congress and Trump in March, is also increasing the deficits, the budget office said.
Womack supported both measures but has urged colleagues to address the budget imbalance, warning that the current trajectory is unsustainable.
In an election year, there's no guarantee that Republican leaders will schedule a vote on the budget resolution, assuming it passes in the committee.
Asked whether his budget would make it to the House floor, Womack declined to make any predictions.
"Those of you that have followed me for the eight years I've been in Congress [know] I don't get into the game of what-ifs," he said.
"I'm the chairman of the House Budget Committee," he said. "Producing a budget resolution ... is the job of the committee."
"We swore an oath to the Constitution that we would defend her against all enemies, foreign and domestic," he said. "There is not a bigger enemy on the domestic side than the debt and the deficits and the concentration of debt now exceeding $21 trillion."
Metro on 06/20/2018
Print Headline: Womack releases budget proposal; He seeks to halt deficit spending