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White House slams GOP budget proposal that would cut veterans' care, aid tax cheats

House Republican leaders want to cut spending from the Inflation Reduction Act in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, despite a recent poll showing public support for it.

By Oliver Willis - April 20, 2023
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy holds an event to mark 100 days of the Republican House majority on the steps of the Capitol, Monday, April 17, 2023.
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., holds an event to mark 100 days of the Republican majority in the House, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, April 17, 2023. In a speech Monday at the New York Stock Exchange, the Republican leader accused President Joe Biden of refusing to engage in budget-cutting negotiations to prevent a debt crisis. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The White House on Thursday criticized debt ceiling legislation supported by House Republican leaders, calling the proposal “a blueprint to devastate hard-working American families.”

“MAGA House Republicans are holding the American economy hostage in order to take a hatchet to programs Americans rely on every day to make ends meet,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

The Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023, introduced by Rep. Jodey Arrington of Texas, chair of the House Budget Committee, has received the backing of Speaker Kevin McCarthy along with Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Majority Whip Tom Emmer, and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik. The bill contains a package of federal spending cuts offered in exchange for raising the federal debt ceiling, the limit on how much the federal government can borrow to cover its obligations. Congress has raised the debt ceiling multiple times under both Democratic and Republican presidents.

The bill would repeal elements of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act signed into law by President Joe Biden and freeze discretionary federal spending at 2022 levels.

“Every House Republican who votes for this bill is voting to cut education, veterans medical care, cancer research, meals on wheels, food safety, and law enforcement,” Jean-Pierre said in her statement. “To slash programs hard-working Americans depend on even as they protect wealthy tax cheats and continue to push tax giveaways for the wealthiest and big corporations.”

Legislation passed by House Republicans would cut funding to the IRS and prevent it from pursuing tax evasion by the ultrawealthy.

In a speech on Wednesday, Biden directly criticized the proposal.

“[Republicans] say they’re going to default unless I agree to all these wacko notions they have,” Biden said at a union hall in Accokeek, Maryland.

Advocates and officials have previously raised concerns about the possible fallout from budget cuts or limits to budget increases.

At a March 23 hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough said keeping the agency’s budget at 2022 levels would lead to as much as $26.7 billion in reduced investment. The secretary said such constraints would reduce medical visits for veterans by 13 million, increase the time required to process veterans’ claims, and lead to a $345 million reduction of the agency’s IT budget.

“I would be very worried about our ability to meet the high standards that you all expect of the investments that you give us at FY22 levels,” McDonough told the committee.

The proposed legislation would impose additional work requirements on people receiving assistance from the SNAP food program and health care coverage via Medicaid. It would also repeal sections of the Inflation Reduction Act that have provided additional funds for the IRS to process claims, respond to taxpayer inquiries, and pursue tax cheats.

Despite efforts by Republicans to cut funding from it, recent public polling has shown support for the Inflation Reduction Act. A Navigator Research poll conducted from April 1-10 found support for the law at 67% among polled voters. The law was backed by 89% of Democrats, 62% of independents, and 44% of Republicans.

If the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023 passes the Republican-led House — although some Republicans have already indicated they are inclined to oppose it — it is unlikely to receive a vote in the Senate, in which Democrats hold a majority.

CNN correspondent Manu Raju tweeted that, following the release of the bill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday reiterated his call for a “clean” raising of the debt ceiling, without any required cuts or legislative spending reductions.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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