WASHINGTON -- As the House of Representatives prepares to vote on the Concurrent Budget Resolution (H. Con. Res. 290), The Concord Coalition today announced that it favors the alternative plan offered by the Blue Dog Coalition over the Republican Budget Resolution and the four other alternatives.
“While The Concord Coalition does not necessarily agree with the plan's spending priorities, we believe the Blue Dog alternative provides the best overall budgetary framework for the next five years. It sets new discretionary spending caps at levels that are both realistic and fiscally responsible. At the same time, it protects the Social Security surplus, strikes an appropriate balance between competing uses of the projected non-Social Security surplus, provides heavy emphasis on debt reduction, and encourages structural reforms of Social Security and Medicare that will ensure long-term fiscal sustainability beyond mere trust fund solvency,” said Concord's Executive Director Robert Bixby.
Although The Concord Coalition applauds the Republican Budget Resolution for drawing attention to the need for paring back government programs that are wasteful or unnecessary, it concludes that this Budget Resolution suffers from the same basic flaw as the FY 2000 Budget Resolution.
“The Republican Budget Resolution uses unrealistic discretionary spending assumptions to pump up the projected on-budget surplus, which is then devoted almost exclusively to tax cuts. This practice risks the resumption of on-budget deficits if the tax cuts are enacted and the discretionary cuts never occur, or if the economy is less robust than is now forecast.
“Unrealistic assumptions also lead to gimmicks. The Republican Budget Resolution does not recommend adjusting the 1997 Balanced Budget Act spending caps, which everyone acknowledges cannot be met. This means to meet the Budget Resolution numbers, an even greater amount of gimmicks will be needed this year than were used last year. The danger of not recommending new caps in the Budget Resolution is that it allows Congress to spend first and adjust the caps later ¾ once they see how much they've spent. Obviously, this stands the whole concept of caps on its head,” Bixby said.
While the main Democratic alternative contains realistic assumptions about discretionary spending and takes an appropriately cautious approach to tax cuts, it also contains general revenue credits to the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, which do not address the programs' looming cash deficits.
“In Concord's view, general revenue credits will not ensure that the Social Security surplus is used for debt reduction. Moreover, ‘solving' much of the long-term imbalance in Social Security and Medicare by committing general revenues to the trust funds does nothing to bring about reforms needed to ensure the programs' long-term fiscal sustainability. Indeed, by appearing to cure much of the problem, this approach would make it more difficult to generate public support for the ‘hard choices' that ultimately must be made,” Bixby said.