Conservatives unveil budget plan cutting $7.5T over next decade

House conservatives on Tuesday unveiled the strictest budget plan to come to the lower chamber's floor in years, and said they had successfully pushed the GOP conference to the right on fiscal matters.

The new Republican Study Committee (RSC) proposal cuts spending by $7.5 trillion, compared to President Obama's plan over 10 years, and balances the budget in five years, four years earlier than last year’s RSC budget.

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RSC Chairman Jim Jordan (Ohio) said that because of their conservative pressure, GOP leaders had lowered spending in the leadership budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), more than they otherwise would have.

“We think we are making a lot of headway,” Jordan said. He also noted that welfare reforms in the Ryan plan came from RSC proposals. 

Now he wants the conference to go further.

RSC members warned colleagues that voting against the committee plan would be inconsistent with voting for a balanced-budget amendment, which received 261 votes in the House last November.

“I would suggest that every member of the Republican conference — who just several months ago came to the floor, gave speeches and then eventually voted for a balanced-budget amendment, which was over 218 members of the conference — have to think long and hard when the only budget that comes to the floor this week that fulfills that promise will be the RSC budget,” said Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), the chief author of the RSC effort.

Jordan said the “vast majority” of RSC members are going to support the Ryan plan as well, but said the RSC plan is moving the conference to the right. 

Compared to the Ryan plan, the RSC is proposing two simple but far-reaching cuts. One is to cut discretionary spending by nearly $100 billion more in 2013, down to $931 billion instead of $1.028 trillion. It then caps spending at that reduced level for 5 years.

Secondly, the RSC plan block grants Medicaid and children’s health plans to the states and caps spending at 2012 levels rather than allowing spending to grow. These changes help the RSC cut $2.2 trillion more than Ryan’s plan, and balance the budget 20 years earlier than his proposal would.

The RSC is also offering a tax plan with higher rates than Ryan proposes. The RSC plan has two individual tax rates, 15 percent and 25 percent, compared to Ryan’s 10 percent and 25 percent rates.

But Garrett and budget co-author Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) said this is because the RSC would leave more tax deductions, such as that for home mortgage interest, in place.

The RSC budget would also set up a fight over tax rates before the November election. It requires the Ways and Means Committee under budget reconciliation to produce a tax reform plan by Sept. 15.

The fiscally conservative Club for Growth on Tuesday scored the RSC budget as one of its “key votes.” Key votes is a scorecard used by the group to help decide which lawmakers to support or attack in elections.

—This story was updated at 4:38 p.m.

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