House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price is defending his decision to dismiss President Obama’s final budget proposal without a hearing because it spends too much, taxes too much and never balances.
Price, R-Ga., says instead Republicans will focus on crafting a budget that balances in the coming years and addresses Social Security and Medicare, which are careening towards disaster. He’s also optimistic federal spending will not end up in a bloated omnibus package at the end of the year.
On Tuesday, Obama unveiled a $4.1 trillion budget that Price finds completely unacceptable.
“Thank goodness it’s his last budget because we can’t stand many more,” said Price. “This is the first budget any president’s proposed that spends over $4 trillion in a year. He continues to be married to an incredible degree to raising taxes. He wants to raise taxes by $3.4 trillion, including putting a ten dollar per barrel tax on oil. That is one of the most regressive taxes he could come up with.”
He says the bad new doesn’t end there.
“(It’s) continuing to increase the deficit, continuing to increase the debt. It never, ever, ever balances. As such, it doesn’t address the challenges that this country faces,” said Price.
Price and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, made headlines even before the Obama budget was unveiled by announcing their committees would not hold hearings on it. While Democrats and many media outlets cried foul, Price says his critics have short memories.
“This is pretty curious. The president has been ignoring Congress for seven years so one time when we stipulate that his budget has no chance of proceeding, they get all excited and exorcised,” said Price.
How did he know the budget wouldn’t worth the time to consider it?
“The president has introduced budgets before. We’ve heard them before. In fact, we’ve had votes on the floor of the House. The last two times they voted on the president’s budget when it came of the floor of the House, it received a grand total of two (votes) out of 435 members,” said Price.
He says the GOP priorities will be clear in drafting a budget blueprint.
“We will be addressing our concerns to strengthen and save Medicare and Medicaid, to make sure we provide appropriate resources for our men and women in uniform. This is a very dangerous world and we need to make sure they have the resources they need to protect us. Then get us on the path to balance so we can get to a balanced budget and getting on that path to paying off the debt,” said Price.
Price says getting the spending under control will require two paths. First, he says Congress needs to reign in discretionary spending and points out current discretionary levels are lower than what was spent from 2008-2010.
The much bigger, more complicated obstacle is mandatory spending, but Price says not much can happen until there’s a president concerned about the spiraling debt of entitlement programs.
“If nothing is done right now, which apparently is the president’s plan because they haven’t proposed anything. If nothing is done to save and secure and strengthen those programs, those programs go broke,” said Price.
Republicans won control of Capitol Hill in 2014 and vowed to restore “regular order” last year, by which spending bills individually rather than rolling them into one giant bill offered at the deadline for averting a government shutdown.
That didn’t happen. Individual bills started moving through the House but went nowhere in the Senate after Obama insisted on higher spending across the board and Democrats filibustered the GOP legislation.
Ultimately, an omnibus bill was easily approved in both the House and Senate that funded Obama priorities from Planned Parenthood to sanctuary cities to the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal. In exchange, Republicans were able to end the export ban on crude oil and make many tax breaks permanent.
Despite the same president and the same margins in the Senate, Price is crossing his fingers that regular order can proceed this year and save taxpayers money by bringing transparency and scrutiny to every bill.
“Speaker (Paul) Ryan has had exactly those conversations with not just Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate, but with Harry Reid, the minority leader in the Senate. In fact, the president has committed to beginning to move the appropriations process in through regular order,” said Price.