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Budget Rightgeousness and the Left's Resolution

March 29, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The House of Representatives is slated to vote today on a budget resolution that Republicans claim constitutes “the largest tax increase in U.S. history.”

Budget resolutions are not what one might assume they are. This resolution is not the one used to dish out funds to programs and agencies for the next fiscal year. It is a resolution that takes a macro-perspective of the budget, establishing spending levels for entitlement programs, like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, as well as making clear other budget priorities. This budget resolution will serve as a blueprint for the Appropriations Committee as it begins to work out the details of the budget.

Here is Paul Ryan (R-WI), the Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, on the resolution:

>“Regrettably, the Democrats’ budget plan amounts to the largest tax hike in American history, and it still doesn’t get to the heart of the problem – the fact that government is spending taxpayer dollars at an unsustainable rate. In fact, this budget proposal piles on a lot more new spending and doesn’t even attempt meaningful entitlement reforms.”

Read the rest of Ryan’s press release for an outline of some of the gimmicks, tax increases, and spending increases that he sees in the Democrats’ plan.

The Republican charge that the budget resolution represents “the largest tax increase in history” comes primarily from the fact that the resolution does not assume that a series of tax cuts, which were engineered by President Bush, will be extended when they expire in 2010.

Stan Collender, on the National Journal’s Budget Battles blog, writes that the claims are all for political posturing and makes a key point about how Bush’s tax cuts relate to this resolution:

>The fact that Republicans were talking about a tax cut that will expire three calendar and two fiscal years from now is the latest sign that the 2008 election campaign is under way. While almost all of the attention has been on the very early start of the presidential campaign, the budget fight is the best indication yet that the fight for control of Congress is actually further along than the one being waged for the White House and that the Democrats and Republicans are already throwing sharp elbows as they maneuver for position.
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>The tax issue raised by Republicans this past week has absolutely nothing to do with the FY08 budget. Even if the congressional budget resolution assumed the tax provisions would be extended as the Republicans say they want, that would not mean legislation would be enacted this year to make that happen.

Ryan has proposed an alternative budget resolution that assumes Bush’s tax cuts would be extended, reduces spending, and protects Social Security payments. Because of the Republicans’ minority status, Ryan’s resolution has no real chance of passing. Robert Novak questions whether that fact is the safety net allowing Ryan to propose his budget now:

>Why was no such budget resolution proposed during 12 years that the GOP was in the majority? Would the party’s leadership support the Ryan resolution if it were in control now? That those questions must be asked undermines Republican credibility and explains why Democrats dare return to tax, spend and elect.

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