White House sounds alarm on Freedom Caucus' budget plan
The White House will take a preemptive shot at Republicans on the federal budget this week, rolling out a blistering five-point critique of a plan by the far-right House Freedom Caucus, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: The Biden administration — still waiting for Republicans' official budget plan for fiscal 2024 — is trying to gain a tactical advantage in the upcoming budget talks by casting a proposal by three dozen GOP hardliners as a "five-alarm fire" for Americans.
- The Freedom Caucus' plan calls for across-the-board cuts in U.S. agencies' funding by capping spending at 2022 levels for the next 10 years. It would end Biden's $400 billion student loan forgiveness program, reclaim unspent Covid funds, increase work requirements for welfare recipients, and more.
- House Republicans insist that Biden cut his $6.8 trillion budget or they won't approve raising the debt ceiling — a move that could create an economic calamity.
Driving the news: Each day this week, the White House plans to show how part of the Freedom Caucus plan would hurt Americans —using new analyses by agencies and the OMB:
- Today: Biden administration officials will say that cuts to police funding and train safety would endanger public safety.
- Tuesday: They aim to show how health care and energy cuts required by the Freedom Caucus plan would raise costs for families.
- Wednesday: The White House will emphasize how cuts in incentives for manufacturing investments would undermine U.S. workers by sending manufacturing jobs overseas.
- Thursday: They'll say that cuts to Medicare would be required, hurting seniors.
- Friday: And that defense cuts would be necessary, weakening national security.
The big picture: The proposal from Freedom Caucus came just after Biden announced a plan that he said would trim deficits by nearly $3 trillion over 10 years, through various savings efforts and raising taxes on those earning more than $400,000 a year.
- The Freedom Caucus is led by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who has indicated that if Biden won't accept huge cuts, Republicans won't vote to raise the debt ceiling — and will blame the president if the U.S. defaults on its debt.
- "America will not default on our debts unless President Biden chooses to do so," Perry said.
Between the lines: Senior White House officials have said serious budget negotiations between Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) won't begin until House Republicans can agree on a GOP plan for federal spending.
- McCarthy indicated that the GOP budget may come later than the original April timeline.
- The pair had an initial meeting in January to discuss the budget, but haven’t had a follow-up.
What they're saying: Cuts such as what the Freedom Caucus proposes "would cause irreparable harm to our communities by gutting the programs every single American relies on," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee.
- "Those proposals are unrealistic, unsustainable and unconscionable."