House Democrats unveiled on Monday afternoon their 2016 budget proposal, offering a $3.7 trillion budget plan that respected President Obama’s suggestions. The president recently called for a tax increase on corporations and wealthy people sought to bring $1.8 trillion over the next ten years.
As expected, the Democratic proposal sparked another debate with their Republican counterparts, who claimed that the budget plan will weigh heavy on taxpayers and could as well lead to a $6 trillion budget deficit accumulation over the next decade.
The Democrats seek to allow more funding to areas like education and medical research, while also increasing spending on infrastructure projects, such as new bridges and roads. Obamacare will receive a modest share of the 2016 budget, but all the Democratic proposals put together would lead to an increased $717 billion budget deficit in 2025, compared to the $378 billion deficit estimated for next year. US national debt, which already stands at a $19 trillion figure, could go as high as $25 trillion in ten years.
Stern Republican opposition to the Democratic plan means no budget will be adopted in the House during this week’s scheduled debate. The American public will however be able to see the different approaches of each party. While the Democrats made tax increase their priority, in order to fund increased government spending on social security, the conservatives offer a zero-growth budget proposal.
“We don’t feel increasing taxes should be a part of the solution,” Republican representative Fred Baser thinks. House Minority Leader Don Turner argued on Monday that “the state is on a bad financial path, a path I believe was created by single-party rule, led by large majorities in the Legislature,” blaming the Democratic majority for getting complacent in its fiscal mismanagement during Mr. Obama’s two tenures at the White House.
Republicans advocate significant government spending cuts need to be implemented in order to stabilize the budget deficit. They estimate a $35 million cut would be a good number to start with. In order to reach that figure, the GOP pointed out at a dozen of government programs where spending reductions could be made. “Excessive spending is the problem, and you can’t fix it by raising taxes,” Turner told reporters.
The Democratic tax increase program is pretty straightforward: everyone will have to pay bigger taxes, but even bigger for the rich. While this would slightly increase the burden on middle-class families, it would also bring the alarming wealth-gap closer.
For instance, households with an income between $75,000 and $100,000 will see their taxes increased, on average, by $212 annually, while households making more than $1 million in gross income would pay $18,600 more per year. This revenue plan will bring, according to the Democrats, no less than $35 million per year to the budget, money that will further be spent on America’s poor and middle class.
Republicans, on the other hand, are pretty determined to boost military spending. They plan to adjust Obama’s $58 billion military budget request by adding a further $38 billion. The military spending matter has been a subject of debate within their own ranks, as many Republicans showed commitment to decrease government spending, and thus allow limited funding to the army as well.
In the end, it seems the hawks have triumphed, as it would have been a sign of weakness from their party to come with Pentagon budget proposal lower than what President Obama asked for. Republican Lindsey Graham won Senate’s approval for the $38 billion military spending increase, in what seems to be a first triumph for the conservatives. Many of them still have concerns that the victory may have come at too great of a cost for the economy.
Republican leaders are still keen on seeing the Affordable Care Act repealed, as they argue it is a proven failure and giving up on it would greatly reduce government spending. “By passing a balanced budget that’s about the future, we can leave Obamacare’s higher costs and broken promises in the past and start fresh, with real health reform,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his colleagues on Monday.
The conservatives contest the data published with Obamacare’s 5th anniversary, saying the numbers give them nothing to cheer about. While reports claimed 16 million Americans got health insurance they otherwise would have not been able to buy, Republicans still think the law is unpopular and weighs too heavy on the budget. “House Republicans continue their obsession with destroying this law and the health security it is providing millions and millions of American families,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said.
Obamacare is still “work in progress”, as the various compromises on the matter between Democrats and Republicans tend to show. Lately, Pelosi struck a deal with House Speaker John A. Boehner that would see doctors treating Medicaid patients no longer receive reduced payments. The Affordable Care Act will probably become one of the recurrent subjects in the budget talks scheduled over the next few weeks.
Image Source: Washington Times
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