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As GOP flounders, Freedom Caucus fights

Conservative Review

In the wake of a defeat for Republicans on Obamacare “repeal,” the House Freedom Caucus is gearing up to fight for a return to conservative priorities in Congress.

Following the declaration of Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, that he could not support the Better Care Reconciliation Act and the collapse of that phony repeal bill, conservatives are urging Congress to adopt full repeal of Obamacare, as Republicans had promised for years.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has announced that the Senate will vote on a 2015 reconciliation bill that repeals most of Obamacare but still falls short of the promised full repeal.

Health care is just the first battleground.

The next battle brewing on Capitol Hill is over Republican leadership’s plan for an all-encompassing $1.1 trillion budget that combines tax reform, partial repeal of Dodd-Frank, and modest cuts from mandatory federal spending programs over the next decade.

The House Freedom Caucus is insisting on more conservative reforms to be included in the Republican budget before its members will support it.

The Hill reports that conservatives want to double the Republican budget’s proposed $200 billion spending cuts and want to see the details on the Trump administration’s tax reform plan. Assuming a lack of Democratic support, any tax reform package Congress considers will need to be passed through budget reconciliation. Therefore, this budget will set the parameters for the tax plan.

“The only reason you need a budget is for reconciliation. So if that’s the only reason we’re doing it, we’d like to know what the savings will be like and what tax reform is going to look like,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told The Hill.

The Freedom Caucus wants to avoid a replay of Obamacare negotiations, where they supported a budget with general reconciliation instructions for Obamacare and ended up with a reconciliation bill that kept most of Obamacare in place. This time, conservatives want to avoid the implantation of new taxes under calls for “revenue neutral” tax reform.

“We’ve been down this road before. It’s like the expression: ‘Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,’” Jordan said.

The details of the $4 trillion fiscal 2018 budget were released Tuesday. The budget calls for $621 billion in defense spending, which according to CNBC includes funding for a border wall. Republicans want to enact modest reforms to welfare programs, including adding new work requirements for food stamps, limiting Medicare benefits for wealthy seniors, and blocking Social Security disability insurance recipients from also receiving unemployment benefits. These reforms amount to $203 billion in spending reductions.

“The status quo is unsustainable. A mounting national debt and lackluster economic growth will limit opportunity for people all across the country. But we don’t have to accept this reality,” Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black, R-Tenn., said in a statement.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows signaled agreement with that sentiment last week, but characterized a $200 billion spending cut to a $4 trillion budget as insignificant.

Meanwhile, the progressive purists in the Republican Party, or the “moderates,” as the mainstream media refers to them, seem to think that any cuts at all to mandatory spending included in the budget resolution go too far.

If Republicans in the majority fail to rally around a plan, Republican leadership may strike a deal with Democrats to pass a budget and set the stage for tax reform. Any such deal would mean conservative reforms are dead on arrival in Congress, for both the budget and health care.

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