According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the proposed GOP tax bill would strip an estimated $136 billion from mandatory spending in 2018, including $25 billion in Medicare cuts if Congress does not find away to offset the cuts. Under the so-called pay-go law, Medicare can only be cut a maximum of 4 percent per year, which in this case equals the $25 billion in proposed spending reductions.
“Without enacting subsequent legislation to either offset that deficit increase, waive the recordation of the bill’s impact on the scorecard, or otherwise mitigate or eliminate the requirements of the [pay-go] law, OMB would be required to issue a sequestration order within 15 days of the end of the session of Congress to reduce spending in fiscal year 2018 by the resultant total of $136 billion,” the CBO recently wrote.
Republicans in both houses of Congress are working quickly to pass their budgets ahead of the new year, especially with the looming threat of sequestration and impending House and Senate races coming next year. The proposed GOP tax bill has been incredibly unpopular with Democrats who argue the mandatory budget cuts would severely harm programs like Social Security and Medicare.
To make up the additional $111 billion in cuts, Congress would need to make spending reductions to other key programs, possible those associated with Affordable Care Act, Customs and Border Patrol operations and funds in the Student Loan Administration. The Office of Management and Budget would likely need to cut up to $25 billion from vulnerable, non-exempt programs like those.
While it is unclear how exactly these cuts will affect vital services to elderly people, the truth is that the system is already strained enough and many elders struggle to gain access to necessary medical care with the benefits they have. Fortunately, the cuts are not set in stone and there may need to be a bipartisan agreement to implement many of these reductions if the CBO determines the bill would add to the national deficit.
“While it is possible to avoid the PAYGO enforcement cuts triggered by their added deficits, Republicans would need Democratic votes to do it, requiring them to abandon their go-it-alone partisan strategy, which is only leading them on a path to failure and to putting our country in danger,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told The Hill.