A Tale of Two Budgets

For Immediate Release

This week, the House is voting on a Fiscal Year 2018 budget while at the same time the Senate is debating its own version – and there are a number of stark differences. The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

For all the years of GOP lawmakers calling for balanced budgets, at least on paper, the House budget would reach balance, while the Senate budget would not.

The House also expedites an important down payment on deficit reduction by calling for over $200 billion in spending cuts from reconciliation. That’s not enough, but far more than the Senate’s minimum target of $1 billion in savings. Yes, one.

The House budget also expedites tax reform that does not add to the debt – the clearly stated past goal of the President's budget, Republican leaders, and the White House – while the Senate budget allows for $1.5 trillion in additional borrowing. (Just to restate that, the Senate would allow $1.5 trillion in tax cuts and asks for only $1 billion in spending cuts.)

Both budgets rely on vastly overstated economic growth numbers, but the Senate budget includes those assumptions in a way that will actually make the debt worse.

No independent economist or forecaster anywhere is predicting the kind of sustained economic growth that would be necessary for tax cuts to be self-financing, and Congressional leaders should not be banking on it as policy. In fact, tax cuts that add to the debt will suppress economic growth, not unleash it.

If the current Senate GOP budget – or anything close to it – becomes our fiscal roadmap, no person supporting it will be able to claim to be a fiscal conservative or supporter of fiscal responsibility.

The House budget, on the other hand, paves the way for more responsible, revenue-neutral tax reform accompanied by at least some mandatory spending reductions that are a down payment on fiscal responsibility.

If lawmakers are unwilling to pass a budget that would truly put our debt on a downward path and address both tax and major entitlement reform, Members of Congress should at least reject adding trillions to the national debt on massively exaggerated promises of economic growth and take an approach that more closely resembles the House budget.


For more information contact Patrick Newton, Press Secretary, at newton@crfb.org.