The differences between the budget proposals recently put forth by President Barack Obama, both Republican-majority houses of the U.S. Congress, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus are “stark,” according to a new analysis—and many provisions in the GOP blueprints “completely miss the mark in responding to what Americans say they want.”
The report, titled Competing Visions, was released Friday by the National Priorities Project (NPP), a non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to making the federal budget process transparent.
The analysis compares how each budget proposal responds (or not) to the stated policy priorities of the American people on key issues including jobs, education, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, food assistance, and military spending, as well as proposed strategies for tax reform and deficit reduction.
“Our analysis shows that, in most spending categories, the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the president would do the most to address the priorities voiced by the majority of Americans,” said Jasmine Tucker, research analyst for NPP and author of the report. “In some areas, the House and Senate budget proposals completely miss the mark in responding to what Americans say they want.”
For example: 67 percent of Americans say improving the job situation is a key priority. Here’s how each of the four major budget proposals tackles job creation:
- President Obama would invest $478 billion over six years into job creation initiatives.
- The House GOP Budget includes no new funding for job creation.
- The Senate GOP Budget includes no new funding for job creation.
- The Congressional Progressive Caucus would invest $1.3 trillion over 10 years in job creation initiatives.
Similar discrepancies exist on almost every issue.
As Tucker put it: “The differences between the four budget proposals are stark, and all signs indicate a difficult budget battle ahead as lawmakers try to resolve widely different approaches despite clear public opinion in favor of certain policies.”
While 70 percent of Americans oppose cuts to food stamps, the GOP-led House and Senate budget plans would both cut the program. The Republican’s budget proposals also missed the mark when it comes to tax reform: although 68 percent of Americans think wealthy households don’t pay enough in taxes, the Senate GOP plan does not propose any changes to fix that, while the House GOP proposal would actually make it worse by eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax that sets a minimum tax for the wealthy.
Meanwhile, even though 67 percent of Americans say improving the education system in the U.S. should be a top priority for the president and Congress this year, the GOP House and Senate plans allocate no new funding for education—and in fact the House proposal “freezes the maximum Pell grant award at the same level for the next 10 years, provides financial aid to fewer families, and makes substantial cuts to domestic discretionary spending, including education.”
The report also shows major discrepancies in healthcare-related priorities. For instance, 56 percent of Americans want to expand the Affordable Care Act or keep it as is, but both Republican budget proposals call for a full repeal of the law. Similarly, even though two-thirds of Americans believe all states should implement the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, the GOP is calling for complete repeal of the expansion and deep cuts to the existing program.
Overall, the House Republican budget would cut $5 trillion in government spending over the next decade, mostly out of programs that low- and moderate-income Americans need and depend on—and that the majority of Americans say they support. At the same time, it adds $400 million in defense spending—not in line with public opinion polls—and promises to lower tax rates for wealthy Americans and corporations.
The Senate version follows the same basic outlines.
At a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also noted the divergence between GOP policies and the priorities of the general public.
“[T]he rich get much richer, and the Republicans think they need more help,” he said. “The middle class and working families of this country become poorer, and the Republicans think we need to cut programs they desperately need. Frankly, those may be the priorities of some of my Republican colleagues in this room, but I do not believe that these are the priorities of the American people.”