The Republican Study Committee, of which about three-quarters of House Republicans are members, released its proposed 2024 budget last week. The document, described by the Committee as “a statement of priorities,” lays out the GOP vision for America: weakened Medicare, higher Social Security retirement age, and lower taxes for the wealthy.
The GOP plan brings back a Paul Ryan-era proposal to reform Medicare by instituting a “premium support” scheme, wherein the federal government would provide each Medicare beneficiary with a voucher to help purchase a private health insurance plan or traditional Medicare. The plan includes few details, making the impact difficult to evaluate. In general, a premium support system would introduce greater volatility in the market for Medicare beneficiaries:
Kaiser Family Foundation: Beneficiaries’ premiums and out-of-pocket costs could rise or fall, relative to current law, depending on a number of factors, including the overall design of the new system, the response of plans to a different payment policy, and the role of traditional Medicare. In contrast to the current system, in which Medicare Part B premiums are generally the same for all beneficiaries regardless of which plan they select, premiums for Medicare-covered services would be expected to vary from one part of the country to another, and from one plan to the next, under a premium support system.
…even in a situation where average premiums go down in the aggregate, some beneficiaries would pay higher premiums while others would pay less. According to the CBO, most beneficiaries who choose to remain in traditional Medicare would pay higher premiums than they would under current law, regardless of whether the federal payment was tied to the second lowest plan bid or tied to the average plan bid.
Another section of the Committee’s proposal increases the waiting period for people who receive Disability Insurance to be enrolled in Medicare benefits from 2 years to 5 years (for those under age 65).
The Committee’s plan proposes making “modest adjustments to the retirement age for future retirees” in order to cut Social Security benefits while claiming not to do so. While the plan itself does not contain details, Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA), chairman of the group’s Budget and Spending Task Force, told Roll Call that the retirement age would gradually be raised to 69 for those who turn 62 in 2033.
Cline said the group has proposed gradually raising the Social Security retirement age, but not for current retirees or those nearing retirement. He said those now aged 59 would see an increase in the retirement age of three months per year beginning in 2026. The retirement age would reach 69 for those who turn 62 in 2033.
Everyone born after 1971 will have to wait until they turn 69 to retire.
Additionally, Republicans advocate for a limited approval of Social Security Disability Insurance for applicants who have the chance to medically improve with appropriate treatment. This would (1) institute more frequent, time-consuming, and costly reviews, and (2) discourage or impede genuinely disabled people from obtaining and keeping disability assistance. But it is necessary, the GOP says, because disability benefits provide “less of an incentive to seek possible treatments and recovery options…a result that traps individuals instead of empowering them to earn a living.”
After failing to force Democrats and the Biden administration to include widespread work requirements during debt ceiling negotiations, Republicans are now pushing to make it part of the 2024 budget negotiations. The GOP proposal advances the long-held American belief that poor people are unmotivated and have weak work ethics—and therefore will rely on safety net programs instead of seeking employment. As numerous studies have proven time and time again, this is a pernicious myth.
Yet, the Committee’s proposal repeats the same falsehoods, saying that “work instills a sense of purpose, self-worth, self-sufficiency, and dignity that cannot be achieved with a government check.” The plan would further raise the age of adults subject to work requirements on food stamps, as well as restrict the ability of states to waive work requirements on an individual basis, require photo ID to use food stamp cards, and require “home visits as a means of deterring welfare fraud.”
Remember Donald Trump’s tax cuts that gave the top 0.1% of US households a 2.5% tax cut and added $1.9 trillion to the national debt? Republicans now want to make those cuts permanent, adding another $2.5 trillion to the deficit in the process. Of course, the proposal does not mention that the tax cuts overwhelming went—and will continue to go to—the richest people in America:
The individual income tax cuts in the 2017 law include provisions that give a roughly $49,000 annual tax cut to the top 1 percent but only about $500 to those in the bottom 60 percent.
The party also wants to eliminate the estate tax, which only applies when an individual transfers assets over $12.92 million to an heir.
The GOP’s proposed budget would end universal free school lunches through the Community Eligibility Provision, a program only available to schools in low-income areas. In other words, the program ensures that all children at participating schools in low-income areas will have no-cost breakfast and lunch—which is unacceptable to the Republican committee because there is no individual means-testing involved.
The proposal also eliminates several housing programs, including the Community Development Block Grant program, aimed at curbing poverty in low-income neighborhoods, and advocates for forcing cities and states to abandon Housing First policies that focus on housing homeless individuals. As with food stamp benefits, Republicans also want to impose work requirements to receive housing aid.
Other provisions in the GOP’s plan include:
- eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
- funding for the completion of the border wall
- rescinding all money for the IRS to crack down on tax dodgers
- reinstating Trump’s deregulatory executive orders