New budget rules proposed for Congress could bring deep, automatic cuts to benefit programs for seniors that had been exempt from those kinds of cuts until now. House budget chair Tom Price has said he would like to see reductions in Social Security and Medicare benefits.
David Reich with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says Price has proposed strict caps on all spending that would kick in if the deficit goes up – even due to tax cuts. And Reich says unlike past budget battles, Price wants Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block.
"What if Congress decides to enact large additional tax cuts? His document says we really shouldn't exempt anything."
Reich says Price's proposal is slanted strongly in favor of tax cuts – even to the extent of possibly cutting seniors' benefits to pay for them.
Medicare and Social Security are both popular, and have their own dedicated sources of revenue. As a result. they have been largely exempt from recent congressional tax and spending fights. And Reich says under the current "pay as you go" budget rules, Congress does not allow itself to increase spending or cut taxes without offsetting the cost. He says Price would break both precedents.