The Senate's Budget Resolution is the First Step to Tax Cuts for the Wealthy and Benefit Cuts for Everyone Else
The Senate is expected to vote this week on a budget resolution for the 2018 fiscal year. The resolution would not only keep in place previously proposed cuts to safety net programs, but it also has much wider implications. Passing this budget resolution is the key for Congressional Republicans to unlock $1.5 trillion in tax cuts using only 50 votes in the Senate—cuts that would floor the accelerator on the country’s growing wealth inequality and racial wealth divide. Congressional Republicans want to pay for these tax cuts with draconian cuts to safety net programs for working families.
Basically, the Senate is trying to use the same opaque legislative process to pass tax cuts as they did with repealing the Affordable Care Act. We’re urging you to write and call your Senators and ask them to vote against a budget resolution that would do nothing more than provide tax cuts for the wealthy.
What’s a Budget Resolution?
Effectively, a budget resolution in Congress is a set of guidelines for committees in the House and Senate to enact more detailed spending changes. As opposed to the President’s Budget, a budget resolution is a simple set of numbers directing spending limits for committees—like Agriculture, Banking and so on.
Because it has to do with the federal budget, the budget resolution is one of the few items of business in the Senate that cannot be filibustered, which would require a 60-vote threshold to pass. Instead, the resolution can pass with only 50 votes, given that the Vice President casts the tie-breaking vote in favor.
Most importantly, passing a budget resolution allows the Senate to use the Budget Reconciliation process within the following fiscal year, which circumvents the filibuster for a variety of other votes.
How is the Budget Resolution Connected to Tax Cuts?
One of the directives in the Senate Budget resolution makes an explicit carve-out for tax cuts. It would allow for $1.5 trillion of tax cuts, along the lines of what Congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration recently proposed. In case you missed it, the Trump-Ryan tax plan would:
raise the tax rate on the poorest Americans
provide trillions in tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals and corporations
and continue to use tax expenditures like the Mortgage Interest Deduction to support wealth-building for the already wealthy.
What does the Budget Resolution mean for the future of the Safety Net?
We know that the House of Representatives and many members of the Senate support passing draconian cuts to many safety net programs as a way of paying for tax cuts for the wealthy. The Budget Resolution makes both of these possible.
Even though the budget and taxes are discussed separately, they are closely linked. The process that Congress is taking to try and achieve tax cuts means cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, education and more.
Where does the budget resolution stand now?
Though it calls for billions of dollars in cuts to many programs, the Senate budget resolution is actually slightly less extreme than the House resolution that passed last week. The plan that passed the House plans for even more in cuts to healthcare and discretionary programs while boosting military spending to $621.5 billion per year.
It’s still up in the air whether the resolution in the Senate has enough votes to pass—Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has already expressed that he won’t vote for it, and several other senators seem to have reservations. Which is why your letters and calls are so important. Make sure to visit our Advocacy Center today and help stop these tax cuts for the wealthy in their tracks.
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