The House Republican FY 2017 budget plan, which could come to the House floor soon, would make Info: significant cuts to children and youth programs important to TGA readers, said a new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis.
The GOP budget is inconsistent with statements of Republican leaders that reducing poverty is a top priority. Specifically, the plan, which the House Budget Committee approved in March, would cut programs for children and youth by about $3.7 trillion over the next decade. In 2026, it would cut such programs overall by 42%, the report said.
In addition, the plan would secure 62% of its budget cuts from children and youth programs even though they account for just 28% of total non-defense program spending (and just 24% of total program spending, including defense), the report said.
While cutting supports and services severely for children and youth, the budget would secure no deficit reduction at all from the more than $1 trillion a year in tax credits, deductions, and other preferences, collectively known as “tax expenditures” — which disproportionately benefit high-income households and which former Reagan Administration economics adviser (and Harvard professor) Martin Feldstein has called the most wasteful part of the budget, the report said.
The plan would make more than $150 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). The plan imposes a series of SNAP cuts quickly and then converts the program to a block grant starting in 2021. It cuts SNAP funds by $125 billion, or almost 30%, just between 2021 and 2026. A funding reduction of this magnitude would necessitate ending food assistance for millions of families with children. , the report said.
In addition to the cuts in health care and SNAP, the House budget plan cuts close to another $500 billion in low-income entitlement programs just in the education and income security areas, the report said. The plan identifies certain specific cuts: significantly scaling back Pell Grants, which help students from families with modest incomes afford college, the report said.
It would also repeal the Social Services Block Grant; and eliminate some low-income families’ eligibility for the Child Tax Credit. But cuts to these three programs explain only a portion of the $500 billion of entitlement cuts in the education and income security areas, the report said.
The remaining cuts must come from other entitlements, which means that low-income entitlement programs would bear a proportionate share of the remaining, unspecified entitlement cuts, the report said. These cuts would potentially affect child nutrition programs, Supplemental Security Income for the elderly and disabled poor, the refundable portions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit (which helps families pay for higher education), child care, foster care, adoption assistance, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the report said.
Discretionary programs for low- and moderate-income people would fall by about 16%, the report said. The cuts appear to hit education and housing aid especially hard and would come on top of cuts that have already occurred or would be required in future years due to the appropriations caps and sequestration, the report said. Spending on low-income discretionary programs already has fallen to its lowest percent of the economy since 1970, the report said.
The House Republican plan ignores what should be one of the largest sources for deficit reduction: tax expenditures, the report said. These are the $1.2 trillion a year in deductions, credits, and other preferences, the report said. Tax expenditures tilt heavily toward the affluent, with half of their benefits going to the top fifth of households, the report said.
While the prospects of either the House or Senate taking up a FY 2017 budget resolution are unclear, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orin Hatch (R-UT) introduced a bill (S.J.Res 6) with 54 original cosponsors. This measure proposes a constitutional balanced budget amendment (BBA) prohibiting total outlays for a fiscal year from exceeding total receipts for that fiscal year.
|Cuts in Non-Defense Spending Under House Budget Committee Plan|
|10-year totals (2017-2026) in trillions of dollars|
|Program cuts||Total||Children and Youth|
|Mandatory health care programs||3.6||2.9|
|All other mandatory programs||1.4||0.7|
|Subtotal, mandatory cuts||5.0||3.6|
|Non-defense discretionary (NDD)||1.0||0.1|
|Total non-defense program cuts||6.0||3.7|