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Congressional Budget Roundup 2015: Everything You Need to Know About the House and Senate Budget Plans


Updated May 12, 2015

The House and Senate have agreed on a budget resolution for 2016.  Here we've collected our analyses of it, as well as the earlier House and Senate plans.

  • The agreement contains at least ten serious shortcomings.

    Read Robert Greenstein and Richard Kogan’s report, “Ten Serious Flaws in the Congressional Budget Plan,” here.

  • The agreement would repeal health reform and cut Medicaid over the coming decade by roughly half a trillion dollars on top, making tens of millions more Americans uninsured.

    Read Edwin Park’s blog post, “Congressional Budget Would Add Tens of Millions to Ranks of Uninsured,” here.

  • The budgets that the House and Senate will consider this week leave out the funding that the 2011 Budget Control Act specifically allows for “program integrity” activities to fight fraud and abuse in Medicare, Medicaid, and disability programs, despite the fact that these activities have a proven track record of saving money.

    Read Robert Greenstein’s blog post, “Despite Anti-Fraud Rhetoric, Republican Budgets Omit Funding to Combat Fraud and Abuse,” here.

  • The plans before the House and Senate would cut low- and moderate-income programs by $3.7 trillion and $3.2 trillion, respectively, over the next decade.  In 2025, they would shrink low- and moderate-income programs by 43 percent and 37 percent, respectively.  Such deep cuts would produce a dramatically weaker safety net, driving millions of people into poverty and denying or weakening health coverage for tens of millions more.

    Read Isaac Shapiro’s blog post, “Congressional Budgets Would Ultimately Cut Programs for Low- or Moderate-Income People by About 40 Percent,” here.

  • Rather than provide a clear plan to replace the “sequestration” budget cuts that are tightly constraining non-entitlement programs, the budget resolutions that will come to the House and Senate floors this week offer only aspirational language along with a gimmick for defense.

    Read David Reich’s blog post, “House, Senate Budget Resolutions Have No Plan to Fix Sequestration,” here.

  • The budgets adopted by the House Budget Committee and the Senate Budget Committee each cut more than $3 trillion over ten years (2016-2025) from programs that serve people of limited means.  These deep reductions amount to 69 percent of the cuts to non-defense spending in both the House and Senate plans.

    Read Richard Kogan’s blog post, “House, Senate Budget Plans Each Get 69 Percent of Cuts From Low-Income Programs,” here. Read our full report here.
  • One way the budget plans from Budget Committee Chairmen Tom Price and Mike Enzi would worsen poverty is by allowing crucial provisions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit for low- and modest-income working people to expire at the end of 2017.  That would push more than 16 million people, including almost 8 million children, into or deeper into poverty.

    Read Bryann DaSilva’s blog post, “Congressional Budget Plans Hurt Low-Income Working Families,” here.

  • CBPP President Robert Greenstein issued a statement on Chairman Enzi’s plan. The Enzi plan would increase poverty, decrease key investments to promote opportunity and foster economic growth, and rely on enormous “magic asterisks” to balance the budget. 

    Read “Statement by Robert Greenstein, President, on Senate Budget Chairman’s Plan,” here.

  • Chairman Enzi’s budget plan claims that converting much of Medicaid into two block grants would follow the successful Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) model.  But Medicaid under block grants would operate far differently than CHIP and would lead to damaging cuts to states, beneficiaries, and health care providers.

    Read Matt Broaddus’s post, “CHIP Success Is No Reason to Convert Much of Medicaid to Block Grants,” here.

  • Chairman Enzi’s new plan proposes to radically restructure Medicaid by converting much of it into two block grants, cutting federal Medicaid funding, and repealing health reform’s Medicaid expansion.  The combined Medicaid cut would exceed $1.3 trillion over ten years, leaving millions of Americans uninsured or underinsured.

    Read Edwin Park’s post, “Senate Budget Chairman’s Plan Would Block-Grant Much of Medicaid, Repeal Medicaid Expansion,” here.

  • CBPP President Robert Greenstein issued a statement on the Price plan. With widespread and growing bipartisan consensus that the country should do more for struggling families of modest income, Chairman Price’s plan does the opposite. Largely a retread of budgets that House Republicans adopted in recent years, it calls for $5 trillion in budget cuts, mostly through steep reductions in programs for low- and moderate-income Americans, as well as deep cuts in investments that strengthen productivity and future economic growth such as education, training, and basic research.

    Read “Statement by Robert Greenstein, President, on House Budget Chairman’s Plan,” here.

  • The House Budget Committee budget plan calls for large cuts in Pell Grants, which help more than 8 million students from low- and modest-income families afford college.  The plan’s cuts in Pell Grants and other education programs would make it more difficult for these students to afford college at a time when those costs are rising quickly.

    Read our report, “House Budget Committee Plan Cuts Pell Grants Deeply, Reducing Access to Higher Education,” here.

  • The House Budget Committee plan says that states will be given “flexibility” to make more choices about their Medicaid programs to best suit their needs.  But with a federal funding cut of $913 billion over the next decade — and the cut exceeding one-third by the tenth year relative to current law — states’ only choices will be deciding what cuts to make.

    Read Jessica Schubel’s blog post, “The House Budget Committee Plan — Not Medicaid — Makes Empty Promises,” here.

  • The House Budget Committee’s budget plan would convert the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) into a block grant beginning in 2021 and cut funding steeply — by $125 billion (34 percent) between 2021 and 2025. Cuts of this magnitude would end food assistance for millions of low-income families, cut benefits for millions of households, or some combination of the two.

    Read our report, “House Budget Would Slash SNAP by $125 Billion Over Ten Years,” here.

  • The House Budget Committee-approved budget plan instructs various committees to prepare bills that would cut programs by specified amounts; Congress would then consider these bills under a fast-track process called “reconciliation.”  The cuts that the committees will eventually recommend will likely be much, much bigger than the savings specified in the budget plan.  As Chairman Price has explained, reconciliation instructions to committees set a floor on cuts, not a ceiling.

    Read David Reich’s blog post, “Don’t Be Fooled by Small “Reconciliation” Savings Targets in House Budget Committee Plan,” here.

  • While imposing harsh budget cuts on the most vulnerable Americans, Chairman Price’s budget plan also reflects tax priorities that favor high-income households, including repealing all health reform revenue changes and eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax.  Repealing these would likely reduce revenues by more than $1 trillion over ten years, we estimate, based on Tax Policy Center (TPC) and Congressional Budget Office.

    Read Chuck Marr’s post, “House Budget Chair’s Priority: Tax Cuts for Well-to-Do,” here.

  • Chairman Price’s budget plan proposes to radically restructure Medicaid by converting it to a block grant and cutting federal funding for it steeply. It would also repeal health reform’s Medicaid expansion. The combined Medicaid cut would reach $1.8 trillion over ten years, relative to current law, adding tens of millions of Americans to the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured.

    Read Edwin Park’s post, “Proposed Medicaid Block Grant Would Add Millions to Uninsured and Underinsured,” here, and Judy Solomon’s post, “Health Reform’s Success Grows; House Budget Chair Promises Repeal,” here.

Preview Pieces

  • CBPP President Robert Greenstein previewed what to expect in the House and Senate budget resolutions.

    Read Robert Greenstein’s commentary, “What to Expect in the Coming Budgets,” here.

  • Total federal spending has dropped significantly since the Great Recession, and policymakers have already taken several steps to reduce the deficit since 2010, primarily through program cuts.  Therefore, continuing to cut programs in order to reduce the size of the federal government is an argument based on an inaccurate claim.

    Read our report, “Program Spending Outside Social Security and Medicare, Already Low in Historical Terms, Is Projected to Fall Further,” here.

  • Since peaking during the Great Recession in 2010 and 2011, federal spending on low-income programs other than health care has fallen considerably and will continue to fall as a percent of gross domestic product (GDP) as the economy more fully recovers. 

    Read our report, “Low-Income Programs Not Driving Nation’s Long-Term Fiscal Problem,” here.

  • Enshrining budget balance as the preeminent fiscal policy goal is neither necessary nor appropriate, and such a goal becomes especially damaging if combined with a no-new-revenue stricture that takes all deficit-reduction from revenues off the table.

    Policymakers should instead seek to put the budget on a sustainable path while encouraging a stronger economic recovery that leads to full employment and a broader sharing of the benefits of economic growth.

    Read our report, “Balancing the Budget in Ten Years and No New Revenue Are Flawed Budget Goals,” here.

CBPP Resources on the 2015 Congressional Budget Proposals