GOP plan to boost defense spending worries some in party
In this March 16, 2015, photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Bolstered by a spate of upbeat economic news, Obama is claiming the upper hand in the budget fight unfolding in Congress. Heâs aiming to exploit recent Republican stumbles to give Democrats an advantage _ despite their status as a weakened minority. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Pointing to increased high school graduation rates, President Barack Obama says he's prepared to fight with Republicans for school funding and his education priorities rather than risk going backward.
In this photo taken March 12, 2015, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio talks with local residents and business owners at Common Grounds Coffehouse and Cafe in Bluffton, Ohio. Jordan says his band of GOP rebels is considering upcoming spending bills for ways to repeal President Barack Obamaâs action easing deportation. The four-term Ohio congressman says he doesnât want to bring negotiations on federal spending and other matters to a halt. His newly-named Freedom Caucus, numbering perhaps 30 Republicans, wants to help Republicans negotiate tough issues as close to conservative principles as possible. (AP Photo/J.D. Pooley)
Front row, from left, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., walk through a basement corridor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, as they head to a meeting of the Republican Conference. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 27: Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., chairs the House Budget Committee hearing on 'The Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) Budget and Economic Outlook' on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, leaves the chamber after the House voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The Republican-controlled House voted along party lines to repeal the health care law that stands as President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement, but this time the bill carried instructions for several committees to replace "Obamacare" with new policies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., leaves the chamber after the House voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The Republican-controlled House voted along party lines to repeal the health care law that stands as President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement, but this time the bill carried instructions for several committees to replace "Obamacare" with new policies. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is unlikely to pass, and even if it does, Obama has threatened a veto. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate Homeland and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., talks with witness Judy Rivers of Logan, Ala. before her testimony at the committee's hearing related to issues of the Government's Death Master File list on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, March 16, 2015. Federal agencies made $125 billion in improper payments last year, including tax credits to people who didn't qualify, Medicare payments for treatments that might not be necessary and unemployment benefits for people who were actually working, said a government report released Monday. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, to discuss Republican efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare and other programs that have an impact on working families. Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, became the ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee when the new GOP-controlled Congress began. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans Tuesday will propose using tens of billions of dollars in additional war funding to get around tight budget limits on the Pentagon in their new budget plan. The move is designed to placate defense hawks, but is already making tough-on-spending elements in the party uneasy.
The latest plan by Republicans controlling the House also reprises sharp proposed cuts to the Medicaid program for the poor, food stamps and health care subsidies under so-called Obamacare.
House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price is releasing the measure Tuesday morning. He's said it will promise balance within 10 years, if not before.
The Georgia Republican's plan borrows heavily from prior GOP budgets, including a plan that would transform Medicare into a voucher-like "premium support" program for seniors joining Medicare in 2024 or later. They would receive a subsidy to purchase health insurance on the private market.
The nonbinding measure sets broad goals for spending and taxes, but it requires follow-up legislation to implement. Republicans have never tried to implement its most controversial cuts and are unlikely to do so as long as Barack Obama is president.
The use of overseas military funds to skirt spending caps on the military, however, is a new feature. War spending is exempt from budget limits and the move would allow Republicans to effectively match Obama's proposal to boost defense spending by $38 billion above current limits. That was a key demand of the party's defense hawks.
Senate Republicans, GOP aides say, are likely to reject the move to radically reshape Medicare and are more reluctant to use war funds to help out the Pentagon.
"It's a gimmick," said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz.
Price has also signaled he'll replicate Ryan's approach to cutting Medicaid and food stamps by transforming them from federal programs into wholly state-run programs that receive lump sum funding from the government. That approach makes it easier to cut these programs without saying how many people would be dropped or how their benefits would be cut.
To meet their promise to balance the budget within a decade, Republicans would have to cut at least $5 trillion from a federal budget that's on track to total $50 trillion over that period.
The twin GOP budget plans will arrive as top lawmakers such as Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, are negotiating a $200 billion or so agreement that would permanently fix a flawed funding formula for Medicare physician payments - adding perhaps $140 billion to the deficit over 10 years - while at the same time the budget resolution will claim that the higher reimbursement rates for doctors will be "paid for" with cuts elsewhere in Medicare.
The Medicare "docs' fix" illustrates a truism in Washington: It's easy to vote for spending cuts when they're only hypothetical but excruciatingly hard when they're binding and spark opposition from powerful interest groups like health care providers.