This Conservative Budget Proposal Is a Real Solution to America’s Debt Situation

COMMENTARY Debt

This Conservative Budget Proposal Is a Real Solution to America’s Debt Situation

Jul 20th, 2017 3 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Justin Bogie

Senior Policy Analyst in Fiscal Affairs

Justin Bogie serves as Senior Policy Analyst in Fiscal Affairs at The Heritage Foundation.
The Republican Study Committee's proposal would balance the budget in less than 10 years and begin making reforms to entitlement programs. iStock

Key Takeaways

The Republican Study Committee's SAFE proposal would balance the budget in less than 10 years.

The budget builds on President Trump’s proposal, making defense spending a top priority and fully paying for it by redefining the role of the federal bureaucracy.

The United States is on an unsustainable fiscal path, and without immediate action from Congress it will continue to move closer to the brink of fiscal disaster.

The Republican Study Committee on Thursday released its fiscal year 2018 budget proposal, titled “Securing America’s Future Economy” (SAFE).

This proposal would balance the budget in less than 10 years and begin to make meaningful reforms to Social Security and Medicare, the two biggest drivers of the federal debt.

The Republican Study Committee budget builds on President Donald Trump’s proposal, making defense spending a top priority and fully paying for it by redefining the role of the federal bureaucracy. Congress should seriously consider this alternative proposal as it debates budget and spending issues in the coming weeks.

Here are five key takeaways from the plan:

1. Balances within 10 years.

The Republican Study Committee budget would balance by 2023. In total, the proposal would cut federal spending by more than $10 trillion.

It would also sharply reduce federal debt held by the public as a share of the economy, and in the coming decade cumulative budget deficits would be $9.1 trillion lower than the latest Congressional Budget Office projections.

2. Prioritizes defense spending.

In 2018, this budget proposal would break the firewall imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and provide a total of $668 billion to fund national defense. This is the same amount of total defense funding provided by the president’s budget.

Heritage Foundation experts, as well as the House Budget Committee’s plan, recommend higher defense spending, but this proposal nevertheless begins rebuilding military capabilities and strengthening military readiness after years of politically motivated budget cuts.

The Republican Study Committee budget also takes a step in the right direction by doing away with the overseas contingency designation and funding all military requirements within the base budget.

These accounts have too often been used to backfill base funding needs, rather than fund true emergencies as they were originally intended.

3. Stays below the Budget Control Act cap level in 2018 and beyond.

This budget would eliminate the Budget Control Act firewalls for defense and nondefense spending and propose a total base discretionary level of $1.062 trillion in 2018. This is $3 billion less than the current law cap while including an additional $119 billion in base defense funding.

In addition to the $668 billion in base defense funding, the plan provides $394 billion for domestic programs.

Nondefense spending would be reduced by $120 billion in 2018, representing a serious effort to reform the federal government and limit its size and scope. The proposal would continue that trend through the remainder of the Budget Control Act’s lifespan.

4. Makes meaningful reforms to Medicare and Social Security.

Medicare and Social Security are the two biggest drivers of the federal debt. Without addressing Medicare and Social Security, it is impossible to sustain a balanced budget beyond the short term.

As in the past, the Republican Study Committee budget recommends major reforms to Medicare, which would ensure the solvency of the program and provide more choices at lower costs to seniors. However, for the first time, the Republican Study Committee also proposes to make comprehensive reforms to Social Security.

To do so, the budget assumes the adoption of the Social Security Reform Act of 2016, introduced by Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, which presents a reasonable, targeted, and fiscally responsible approach to restore Social Security’s solvency.

5. Fully repeals Obamacare and provides a tax cut to Americans.

Finally, the Republican Study Committee proposal assumes that Congress will complete the process of fully repealing Obamacare. This includes the repeal of its tax provisions, which have been damaging to citizens as well as the nation’s job creators.

In total, repealing Obamacare would reduce taxes by $1 trillion in the coming decade.

The United States is on an unsustainable fiscal path, and without immediate action from Congress it will continue to move closer to the brink of fiscal disaster. Much like Heritage’s “Blueprint for Balance,” the Republican Study Committee budget would greatly reshape the federal government and carefully prioritize resources.

Congress should fully consider this proposal. Delaying meaningful reforms further into the future is a recipe for disaster.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal