It’s not unusual for White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to offer public criticism of Republican ideas, but yesterday, President Joe Biden’s chief spokesperson targeted a specific proposal that hasn’t generated a lot of attention.
“The Republican Study Committee, which includes most House Republicans, endorses cutting Medicare and Social Security benefits,” Jean-Pierre said in a tweet.
For much of the public, which is probably unfamiliar with the Republican Study Committee, the missive may not have had much of an impact, but the press secretary’s point warrants some additional attention.
About a half-century ago, when there were still plenty of moderate and even liberal Republicans, a group of conservative lawmakers created the Republican Study Committee as a home exclusively for House members on the right. In the years that followed, as centrist Republicans became an endangered species, the Republican Study Committee became one of Congress’ largest caucuses — to the point that roughly three out of four House GOP members have joined the contingent.
With this in mind, when the Republican Study Committee releases a budget plan, it represents the views and priorities of most of the House GOP. And as Mother Jones reported, the ideneWhite House is right to be concerned about what these Republicans have proposed.
A little-noticed budget document, the Blueprint to Save America, released in June by the Republican Study Committee, details the group’s priorities.... The 122-page manifesto, containing a laundry list of longstanding conservative desires, calls for significantly reducing the size of America’s social safety net, drastically limiting abortion access nationwide, effectively throwing in the towel on combatting climate change, raising the age requirement to receive full Social Security benefits, cracking down on transgender rights, and making it easier for Americans to carry concealed weapons.
Jean-Pierre included a link to the budget blueprint in her tweet, which was a good idea: This is a publicly available document that voters probably ought to be aware of.
It’s difficult to summarize a 122-page plan, but these House Republicans made little effort to curtail their ambitions. If the Republican Study Committee’s plan were implemented, Social Security and Medicare would be partially privatized, food stamps would be slashed, Head Start would be phased out, Medicaid funding would be decimated, the Affordable Care Act would be weakened, labor unions would be undermined, the EPA would be gutted, abortion would be banned, birthright citizenship would be eliminated, Donald Trump’s border wall would be funded, and even the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would see its doors permanently closed.
The point, of course, isn’t that such a plan will be implemented anytime soon. There’s a Democratic majority in Congress, which won’t consider any of these regressive ideas.
Rather, the point is that the Republican Study Committee, representing 75 percent of the overall House Republican conference, not only endorses these ideas, they put these ideas in writing and released them as the members’ official budget plan.
What’s more, they might not be in the minority for much longer.
The House Budget Committee’s Democratic chairman, Kentucky’s John Yarmuth told Mother Jones that the document reflects how a GOP-led House would govern. “The new members [Republicans] get if they unseat our members and take our open seats are going to be even more conservative than the people who put this together,” Yarmuth argued. “I think this would be exactly the blueprint that they would try to adopt.”
There’s also, of course, an electoral dimension to this: By some measures, the Republican Study Committee has 157 members. Are they prepared to run for re-election while defending this radical policy blueprint?