Republican Study Committee Rolls Out Budget Preview

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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The Republican Study Committee (RSC), a group of around 170 House conservatives, released a preview of its Fiscal Year 2017 budget blueprint Wednesday.

While the proposal shows several parallels with the House Committee on the Budget’s blueprint – which was marked up by the panel Wednesday – it takes things a step further by balancing the budget in eight years, cutting spending by $8.6 trillion over 10 years and reducing non-defense discretionary spending by $1.4 trillion. In contrast, Budget Committee Chairman [crscore]Tom Price[/crscore]’s “Balanced Budget for a Stronger America” would balance the budget in 10 years, cut the deficit by $7 trillion and keep the spending levels agreed upon by former House Speaker [crscore]John Boehner[/crscore] and President Barack Obama in October.

Both proposals call for a balanced budget without raising taxes, but the RSC’s plan does so through 200 specific cuts and reforms.

“Fiscal Year 2017 base discretionary spending would total $974 billion, including reducing non-defense discretionary to $400 billion,” the summary reads. “The arbitrary “firewall” between discretionary categories would be removed, allowing Congress to fund national priorities.”

A total of $574 billion would be provided for base defense spending, with an additional $59 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations. Under the proposal, defense spending would grow every year, “maintaining sufficient resources to address an increasingly dangerous world.”

The RSC said the plan would stimulate economic growth through tax reforms – calling for a 25 percent cap on the highest income bracket, lowering the capital gains rate and closing special interest loopholes. It also calls for the elimination of the Internal Revenue Service, instead offering an office in the Department of Treasury.

Other provisions intended to improve the economy include placing a regulatory freeze for the remainder of the president’s term, repealing Dodd-Frank and eliminating the Export-Import Bank in addition to doing away with the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Major reforms would also be made to entitlement programs as it would implement a work requirement to receive food stamps and housing assistance. The Earned Income Tax Credit would also be simplified in an attempt to prevent fraud.

Not unlike Price’s proposal, Obamacare would be eliminated and states would receive block grants for Medicaid, placing the power back in state hands. The age one can receive Medicare would be moved to match Social Security, and an increase for basic premiums means testing for high income retirees would be gradually phased in.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus said they plan on rejecting the Budget Committee’s blueprint due to its spending increases, especially in the wake of the national debt passing the $19 trillion mark.

Senate Majority Leader [crscore]Mitch McConnell[/crscore] said the upper chamber will not consider any legislation that does not meet the levels in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.

A source close to the RSC said the group’s full proposal is expected to be rolled out Thursday.

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