Archive for Thursday, May 18, 2006

House passes GOP budget plan

May 18, 2006


— The House passed a $2.8 trillion budget blueprint early Thursday after GOP moderates won a promise for modest increases in spending on education, health and other social programs.

The House passed the Republican plan by a 218-210 vote.

For GOP leaders, passage of the Republican plan avoided the embarrassment of not being able to pass a budget through the House for the first time since congressional budget rules were put in place in 1975.

It's improbable, however, that the House and Senate will be able to agree on a mutual budget plan. Differences between House conservatives determined to stick with President Bush's caps on agency budgets funded each year and Senate GOP moderates determined to breach them simply appear too great.

Still, the debate on the annual budget resolution - a nonbinding blueprint that sets the broad parameters for upcoming tax and spending bills - gave Democrats and Republicans ample opportunity to illustrate the differences between their parties.

For Republicans, the plan steers a steady path limiting the growth of spending while assuming $228 billion in additional tax cuts over five years, much of which would go toward extending GOP tax cuts slated to expire in 2010.

They credited existing tax cuts with a booming economy producing surging revenues that are driving current-year deficit estimates perhaps $100 billion below the record $423 billion in red ink predicted by the White House in February.

Democrats countered that the House GOP plan requires a $653 billion increase in the national debt to $9.6 trillion and that the deficits produced by the plan are likely to be far larger than the $1.1 trillion Republicans assume will accumulate under the measure if its policies are followed.

That's because the measure doesn't take account of the long-term costs of the war in Iraq or of shielding middle- to upper-income taxpayers from the alternative minimum tax. Many of the long-term spending cuts assumed by the GOP plan are politically unsustainable.


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