As Congress struggles to find a compromise between the House Republicans’ and the Senate Democrats’ budget proposals this week, the House conservatives have jumped into the fray with their own budget proposal. The Republican Study Committee (RSC), helmed by Chairman Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) released an even more radical plan than the official House Republican budget, which disproportionately guts programs for low-income Americans while giving even bigger tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. The RSC budget purports to eliminate the deficit in just 4 years and limit total discretionary spending to $950 billion, the lowest level since 2008. In order to achieve this goal, the RSC cuts non-defense spending by $6 billion over four years, while the GOP budget slows spending growth over the same period.
Here are 5 of the most extreme proposals in the budget from the RSC, of which roughly two-thirds of Republicans in Congress are members:
1. Raise the retirement age to 70. The RSC budget would delay eligibility for Medicare and Social Security benefits to age 70, while calculating cost-of-living adjustments using chained CPI, which cuts benefits by $1300 a year for each recipient. Raising the eligibility age for Medicare would force seniors to pay $11.4 billion in extra costs.
2. Reinstate Bush tax cuts. Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans have greatly exacerbated income inequality while doing little for economic growth. As such, President Obama allowed the tax cuts for people making over $450,000 a year to expire at the end of 2012. The RSC would reintroduce those tax cuts, eliminating $823 billion in revenue and adding $950 billion back into the deficit over ten years.
3. Freeze all spending for four years. In order to meet the fantastical goal of eliminating the deficit in four years, the RSC budget would cap all discretionary spending to $950 billion, allegedly close to 2008 spending levels but actually around $100 billion less when adjusted for inflation. It would then freeze all discretionary spending at that level until 2017, when the budget would supposedly be balanced.
4. Eliminates the National Labor Relations Board, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Public Broadcasting. The RSC budget entirely does away with the NLRB, which oversees labor practices, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which the budget states is a “government-supported media outlet” against the principles of “a free society,” and the National Endowment for the Arts, which is “an inappropriate function of the federal government and is nowhere justified in the Constitution.”
5. Repeal Obamacare. The House has wasted more than 30 votes trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, undeterred by public opinion or a Supreme Court decision. Still, the RSC budget would repeal Obamacare, kicking more than 30 million Americans off their insurance and once again allowing insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.