For Washington, it’s budget season. President Obama released his budget early last month, and this week it’s Congress’ turn to reveal its own budget resolutions.
Government spending and debt has grown out of control: The current national debt exceeds $18.1 trillion and is only growing higher. It is Congress’ responsibility to address the national spending and debt problem and put the budget on the path to balance. By adopting a concurrent budget resolution for fiscal year 2016, Congress has the opportunity to enact reforms and change the fiscal spending pattern for the future.
Here are seven things that Congress ought to focus on in its budget resolutions based on a new Heritage report:
- Prioritize Defense Spending. The core duty of the federal government is to provide for the common defense. This congress should increase defense spending by allocating $584 billion in the 050 function. The defense budget ought to be based on a national security strategy and military capability requirements, in addition to budget considerations.
- Repeal Obamacare. Congress should repeal Obamacare in its entirety, eliminating $2 trillion in new spending and saving taxpayers $771 billion from 18 new or increased taxes that would have helped fund Obamacare. A full repeal would free the insurance market of costly and onerous regulations. This action is also a necessary step to get entitlement spending under control.
- Reform Medicaid. Medicaid must be put on a budget rather than the current open-ended funding model. Congress should make reforms that allow Medicaid dollars to be used to purchase private insurance of the enrollee’s choice, granting more control to the individual enrollees over the care and services they receive.
- Reform Medicare. Congress should transform Medicare into a premium-support program that uses a defined-contribution model of financing. This would make Medicare both fiscally responsible and patient-centered, benefiting both seniors and taxpayers.
- Reform Social Security. The Social Security disability program is approaching insolvency before the end of next year and the retirement program is already running a cash-flow deficit. Congress should enact structural reforms to Social Security to avoid indiscriminate cuts in benefits to society’s most vulnerable, without increasing the debt or tax burden for future generations.
- Reform the Tax Code. Congress should simplify the tax system by lowering marginal tax rates and by eliminating the capital gains tax, death tax, tax carve-outs, foreign income taxes and any tax on savings.
- Cap Welfare Spending. Congress should scale back means-tested welfare spending to pre-recession (fiscal year 2007) levels plus 10 percent, and welfare spending should be capped at the rate of inflation going forward. Welfare programs should be reformed to encourage work by implementing work requirements.
Read the full issue brief here.
This article has been modified.