Election Day is still a month away, but House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has already tipped his hand about how he plans to enact his agenda without interference from Democrats if Donald Trump wins.
At a recent news conference, as reported by Politico, Ryan said that he planned to use the process known as budget reconciliation to implement his policy agenda, which he has dubbed “A Better Way.” That would mean Republicans could pass their priorities without Democratic members of Congress being able to block them.
“This is our plan for 2017,” he said, showing off a copy of the agenda. “Much of this you can do through budget reconciliation… This is our game plan for 2017.”
If the House and Senate passed a budget resolution, they could then start the reconciliation process, which allows the Senate to vote on measures related to fiscal policies without the possibility of them being filibustered and with a limited ability for them to be amended. The bills can address spending — including on programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps —taxes and the debt limit.
Ryan and other Republican lawmakers could use this process to push through their desired changes to the tax code. The tax plan Ryan put forward in June would lower the corporate tax rate, lower rates for the wealthy, and repeal the estate tax. An analysis of the plan found that 99.6 percent of its benefits would go to the richest 1 percent of Americans, leaving just 0.4 percent for everyone else. It would also cost the government $3.1 trillion over a decade.
They could also pass their proposals for Medicare and Medicaid, food stamps, and rental assistance. Ryan recently proposed instituting strict work requirements for food stamps and housing assistance that could mean throwing people off the rolls if they can’t fulfill the new conditions. His recent agenda includes block-granting Medicaid, which would cut the program by billions and leave tens of millions of people uninsured, and replacing the current guarantee of health care coverage under Medicare with a voucher to purchase private health insurance.
Meanwhile, Republicans are likely to gut key parts of the Affordable Care Act this way, as they have already tried to do only to be thwarted by a veto from President Obama.
It seems likely that a President Trump would then sign the measures. One of Trump’s economic advisers, Larry Kudlow, told Politico that passing a tax package through reconciliation would be “not good, fabulous” and “the fastest way in our judgement to get necessary pro-growth tax reform.” He’s been encouraging Trump to use the procedure and he said Trump’s team is considering it.
Reconciliation has been deployed 20 times by both parties, including Republicans pushing through President George W. Bush’s tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 and Democrats pushing through the final version of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. But Republicans expressed widespread outrage about its usage in the latter instance: Ryan himself called it “an extraordinary and unprecedented abuse” and a “convoluted legislative charade” and said, “Never before has the House committee process been so grossly exploited.”