The Budget Battle Begins: House Committee Crafts Plan - Black Enterprise

The Budget Battle Begins: House Committee Crafts Plan

After a long process that began at 10:30 am on Wednesday and finished at midnight, the House budget committee passed a resolution that closely resembles the one President Obama submitted to Congress earlier this month but calls for narrower deficits and less spending.

Some of the differences include a lower total outlay (Obama: $3.67 trillion; House: $3.55 trillion); less non-emergency discretionary spending (Obama: $748.6 billion; House: $1.089 trillion); and lower deficit projections (Obama: $748.6 billion Obama; House: $598.4 billion). Obama’s budget also calls for a $250 billion placeholder for the TARP program, which the House resolution does not.

During her weekly pen-and-pad briefing with reporters this morning, House speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House resolution reflects the blueprint for America that Obama seeks and includes deficit reduction, tax reductions for 95% of Americans, and job creation. The resolution calls for deficit neutral reserve funds for affordable healthcare, energy, and education-related provisions to create a globally competitive workforce.

One big difference between the administration’s and the House’s budget plan is a decision by the House committee to put reconciliation instructions in the budget to increase the chances of passage for healthcare reform and federal student aid. Such a move would enable a bill to be passed in the Senate with a simple majority vote of 50 if the chamber lacks the 60 votes required to prevent a filibuster.

“I believe that it is absolutely essential to come out of this year with substantial healthcare reform legislation. I believe that that is best served by having reconciliation in the package,” said Pelosi.

Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) member Artur Davis (Alabama) said that while many lawmakers are still reviewing the House budget resolution, he thinks it appears to be a more practical document because of its approach to deficit reduction and because it does not include contentious issues like climate change legislation and cap-and-trade remedies.

“Most of those discussions are deferred to another day as it should be. The purpose of the budget resolution is not to resolve all of those fights, but to put markers in place for a broad set of commitments. I think this is a document that’s crafted to get a majority so the process can go forward,” said Davis, who predicts that some Democrats will not vote for it and not a single Republican will support it when it goes to the floor next Thursday.

This afternoon House Republicans unveiled its budget blueprint titled “The Republican Road to Recovery,” a likely response to Obama’s comment during his Tuesday night news conference that the Republicans had not offered up any alternatives but criticisms.

The document states that the GOP plan will curb spending, create jobs, lower taxes, and control the debt, but lacked specifics such as actual figures. When asked by reporters why there were no numbers, house minority Leader John Boehner’s response was that Obama didn’t provide such details until days after delivering his blueprint.

“Wait till next week,” Boehner said, adding that their plan will be better than Obama’s.