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story.lead_photo.caption FILE — U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers speaks Thursday, April 13, 2017, during a town hall meeting at Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville. - Photo by Jason Ivester

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Steve Womack's budget blueprint came under fire from Democrats and at least one Republican at Wednesday's House Budget Committee meeting.

The committee is scheduled to vote on the budget resolution today. The proposal was released Tuesday and discussed Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Democratic committee members warned that the measure would devastate the nation's social safety net. U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., portrayed it as another "sham budget" that fails to rein in out-of-control federal spending.

Womack, the committee chairman and a Republican from Rogers, argued that his budget resolution would lead to a balanced budget by fiscal 2027.

With the national debt surpassing $21 trillion, Womack told lawmakers that the country's fiscal situation can no longer be ignored.

"While America has an extraordinary past and is making positive economic strides for our future thanks to tax reform, there are some very real fiscal challenges casting a shadow of doubt on long-term prosperity," he said. "These are challenges that must not be ignored any longer. They must be overcome. And in order to do so, tough decisions must be made in the short term."

Potential cuts, spread over the next decade, include: $157 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps; $537 billion from Medicare; and $1.5 trillion from Medicaid.

Much of the deficit reduction, Republicans said, would come by repealing and replacing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare.

The budget blueprint also envisions raising the age for Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67.

Brad Watson, the committee's director of budget review, cautioned that many of the proposed cuts are simply "illustrative policy options."

Ultimately, 11 House committees would be asked to come up with $302 billion in spending cuts.

Democrats said Womack's proposal helps the rich and harms the rest of society.

"This budget places the entire burden of deficit reduction on the middle class and struggling families. It does not call for even one penny of new revenue from closing tax loopholes for the wealthy or corporations. In contrast, it assumes a total of $5.8 trillion in spending cuts, [including] at least $2.1 trillion from Medicare, Medicaid and other critical health care programs," said U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky.

"This is not a tightening of the government's belt. These are radical, devastating cuts that will jeopardize the safety, health and well-being of American families and communities while totally undermining our economic competitiveness," he added.

[DOCUMENT: Read the budget blueprint from the House Budget Committee]

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Budget blueprint from House Budget Committee

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Republicans on the committee said the cuts are necessary.

"I firmly believe that if Congress continues to spend more money than we bring in, our nation risks losing credibility and influence in the international marketplace," said U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, a Republican from Hot Springs. "Spending must be reined in. Its growth must be slowed so that [it] more closely aligns with incoming revenues and accurately reflects economic growth in the United States."

Further delays are unwise, he said.

"Perhaps it's time for us to make minor sacrifices now to ensure our children and grandchildren don't have to make major ones in the future," he added.

But McClintock, the California congressman, argued that the cuts aren't deep enough and that the consequences of inaction will be enormous.

"Countries that bankrupt themselves aren't around very long, and I think we're running out of time. And sadly, I don't see this budget getting serious about changing course," he said.

During a break in Wednesday's hearing, Womack said the committee hearing hadn't yielded many surprises.

"It's going as expected," he said.

While Democrats oppose the cuts, cuts are unavoidable, he said.

Without changes, Medicare will be insolvent in 2026, he said. Social Security will be insolvent in 2034, he added.

"We've got to make some tough choices in these programs because it's a ticking time bomb," he said.

While he'd like to see the budget balanced more quickly, Womack says the hurdles are enormous.

"You can't do it without draconian cuts and major tax increases and a lot of things that would be politically just virtually impossible to do. We're trying to do something that just puts us on a different path," he added.

Josh Mahony, the Democrat challenging Womack, said recent Republican tax cuts favored the rich and will add another $1 trillion to the national debt.

"Steve Womack blew up the deficit and now he's trying to fix it by sticking it to the people who can afford it the least," he said in a written statement. "With cuts to education, healthcare, and Social Security, this bill shows the true priorities of Republicans and it's not to hard-working Arkansans."

A Section on 06/21/2018

Print Headline: Womack budgetary proposal draws fire; It’s called ‘sham,’ safety-net ruiner

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Comments

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  • DoubleBlind
    June 21, 2018 at 8:21 a.m.

    Mahoney’s assessment is spot on. Republicans are fine with blowing up the deficit through tax cuts for the rich and then bring it under control through massive cuts to entitlements. Let’s see how many stupid comments are posted by entitlement recipients who voted for the likes of Trump and Womack.

  • TimberTopper
    June 21, 2018 at 9:21 a.m.

    Talk about a Russian/Republican Party Killer, this would do it!

  • GeneralMac
    June 21, 2018 at 9:27 a.m.

    Once again a Democrat is crying about " favoring the rich".

    When many people's tax refund is 4x greater than taxes paid, someone is picking up the slack.

  • DoubleBlind
    June 21, 2018 at 9:36 a.m.

    GM - Are you old enough to receive SS or benefit from Medicare/Medicaid? If not, do you plan to collect when the time comes? Does the tax cut you just received make up for the draconian cuts proposed for those programs over the period for which you plan to receive them? Say 25-30yrs? Do the math before shooting off your mouth.

  • DoubleBlind
    June 21, 2018 at 2:07 p.m.

    GM - It’s been almost 5hrs since I posed my questions to you. You’ve been shooting off your filthy mouth all over these boards related to other articles since then. Why no response here? Could it be I hit a nerve?

  • GeneralMac
    June 21, 2018 at 2:19 p.m.

    Every time a cut/adjustment is suggested for SS, it also states.........." those receiving SS or close to SS age will NOT be affected"

    Medicare?

    I can get medical coverage thru the VA for benefits I ......EARNED --

    Those people getting 4x..MORE..in refunds $$$$$$$$ than taxes they paid should be told...." pay YOUR fair share"

  • DoubleBlind
    June 21, 2018 at 2:34 p.m.

    GM - You actually buy what they’re selling re “it won’t affect anyone close to collection age?” Seriously?! But when it does, you’ll be ok with that, I’m assuming, because you’re a patriot willing to eat cat food if necessary. Poor, stupid b@stard. Good luck with that.

  • Packman
    June 21, 2018 at 2:54 p.m.

    Democrats say this will help the rich and hurt the poor. Damn, son, who would have ever predicted democrats would say THAT?

  • DoubleBlind
    June 21, 2018 at 3:04 p.m.

    Pack@ss - Answer the questions I posed to GM earlier. How do they apply to you? You won’t be collecting SS? You won’t rely on Medicare/Medicaid? Your retirement is fully self funded?

  • LRCrookAttorney
    June 21, 2018 at 3:36 p.m.

    DB...I will answer your question, yes, my retirement is completely self-funded. I was told by democrats 20 years ago when I was 30 that the republicans were taking it away, and like an idiot I believed them. Therefore, now I will have both. I guess in a way it helped me, but I sure would like have been able to use that money in my 30s.

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