Opinion

WILFORD: Republican Study Committee Provides A Blueprint For Budget Reform

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Andrew Wilford National Taxpayers' Union Foundation

Tired of year after year of deficit-boosting budgets coming out of Congress? The conservative bloc of the House of Representatives, the Republican Study Committee (RSC), has just the antidote: a conservative way forward with the country’s budget.

The RSC released its yearly budget this week, a budget that promises meaningful reform to the nation’s spending problems. The RSC’s budget would cut spending by $12.6 trillion over the next ten years, balancing the budget as soon as 2025.

That’s in stark contrast to the irresponsible budgets that American taxpayers have come to expect from Congress. Last year’s budget alone is projected to add $1.66 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years.

The RSC’s budget accomplishes this by targeting real drivers of our debt crisis that are politically unpopular to talk about. Social Security and Medicare alone are projected to run an $82 trillion deficit over the next 30 years, but the RSC would not leave these programs to their fate as others would.

The RSC would salvage Medicare by transitioning to a more flexible approach that would provide premium support for seniors, allowing them to pick the Medicare plan that best suits their needs from a regulated market of providers. Social Security would see a phased-in retirement age increase to 70, so that current retirees would not have their retirement age changed.

At the same time, the RSC’s budget promises strong economic growth by encouraging innovation. Taxes that stifle saving and investment like the capital gains tax and the estate tax would be lowered and eliminated, respectively. At the same time, a crucial tax change made in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), allowing full and immediate expensing of the value of capital investments, would be made permanent.

The budget would also make permanent other important provisions in the TCJA. The TCJA’s individual income tax cuts would be made permanent and expanded for good measure, returning an average of $14,800 per family to American taxpayers. The two lowest income tax brackets would be lowered to 9.5 percent and 11 percent, reducing the tax burden on working-class Americans.

It would also return money to American bank accounts, literally, in another way. The RSC’s budget would allow for the creation of Universal Savings Accounts (USAs), allowing Americans to invest $10,000 a year in Roth-style savings accounts that could be withdrawn at any time. This system would encourage saving and rainy-day funds — a necessary change considering reports last year that 40 percent of Americans would be unable to cover a $400 emergency expense.

That’s not to say that the RSC’s budget is perfect. It would boost defense spending to a total of $7.73 trillion over the next decade, but without the structural reforms necessary to prevent waste that hampers our national defense.

Nevertheless, the RSC budget is the only game in town for a comprehensive, responsible path forward for the federal government. For a Congress that cannot seem to get out of its own way when it comes to overspending, Americans can take heart that there are still many members of Congress working as responsible caretakers of American tax dollars and restore fiscal sanity to Washington.

Andrew Wilford (@PolicyWilford) is a policy analyst with the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to fiscal policy analysis and education at all levels of government.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.