GOP Proposal Promises Balanced Budget, Repeal Of 'Obamacare'

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House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., holds up a copy of the 2014 Budget Resolution as he speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
By ANDREW TAYLOR

WASHINGTON -- House Republicans unveiled their latest budget outline on Tuesday, sticking to their plans to try to repeal so-called "Obamacare," cut domestic programs ranging from Medicaid to college grants and require future Medicare patients to bear more of the program's cost.

The point is to prove it's possible to balance the budget within 10 years by simply cutting spending and avoiding further tax hikes, even though the fiscal blueprint released Tuesday by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will be dead on arrival with the White House and Democrats controlling the Senate.

The latest Ryan plan generally resembles prior ones, relying on higher tax revenues enacted in January and improved Medicare cost estimates -- along with somewhat sharper spending cuts -- to promise balance.

Senate Democrats plan to offer a counterproposal on Wednesday with higher spending on domestic programs and additional tax hikes on top of the higher rates imposed on top-bracket earners in January. That plan will, in turn, arrive as a dead letter in the GOP-controlled House.

At issue on Tuesday and beyond is the arcane and partisan congressional budget process, one that is unlikely to illustrate a path forward in a gridlocked Washington. At stake are so-called budget resolutions, which are nonbinding measures that have the potential to stake out parameters for follow-up legislation cutting spending and rewriting the complex U.S. tax code.

But this year's dueling GOP and Democratic budget proposals are more about defining political differences -- as if last year's elections didn't do enough of that -- than charting a path forward toward a solution. Congressional budgets often simply state party positions, and invariably are partisan endeavors.

The partisan exercise comes even as President Barack Obama travels to Capitol Hill later on Tuesday to meet with Senate Democrats in an attempt to resuscitate his failed efforts for bipartisanship.

Ryan, who became a national GOP figure as the losing vice presidential nominee last year, has for now settled back into his wonkish role as Budget Committee chairman and chief tutor for dozens of relatively junior Republicans. He's also armed with a full battery of budget bromides.

"You cannot continue to kick the can down the road," Ryan said Tuesday. "You cannot continue to spend money we just don't have."

"On the current path, we'll spend $46 trillion over the next 10 years. Under our proposal, we'll spend $41 trillion," Ryan said in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. "On the current path, spending will increase by 5 percent each year. Under our proposal, it will increase by 3.4 percent."

Ryan's plan promises to cut the deficit from $845 billion this year to $528 billion in the 2014 budget year that starts in October. It would drop to $125 billion in 2015 and hover pretty much near balance for several years before registering a $7 billion surplus in 2023.

The White House weighed in against the Ryan plan, saying it would turn Medicare into a voucher program and protect the wealthy from tax increases.

"While the House Republican budget aims to reduce the deficit, the math just doesn't add up," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "Deficit reduction that asks nothing from the wealthiest Americans has serious consequences for the middle class."

The House Budget Committee has scheduled a vote on the measure Wednesday, and the Senate Budget panel is slated to vote Thursday on rival legislation by new Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., who promises new tax revenues but few cuts from domestic programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

"We are working towards fair and balanced, which is what the American public has said time and time again that they want," Murray said. "We need to make sure that everybody participates in getting us to a budget that deals with our debt and our deficit responsibly."

For his part, Ryan has resurrected a controversial Medicare proposal that replaces traditional Medicare for those currently under 55 with a government subsidy to buy health insurance on the open market. Critics of the plan say the subsidies won't grow with inflation fast enough and would shove thousands of dollars in higher premiums onto seniors before very long.

The House GOP plan again proposes sharp cuts to the Medicaid health program for the poor, tighter food stamp eligibility rules and claims $1.8 trillion in savings over a decade by repealing Obama's signature overhaul of the U.S. health care system. It generally seeks to preserve the Pentagon budget, but only at the expense of proposing dramatic cuts to domestic agency budgets that may prove too low for GOP moderates and the pragmatists atop the Appropriations Committee responsible for guiding them into law.

A document released Tuesday offers few specifics on the proposed cuts to domestic programs, but it generally appears to incorporate spending levels for day-to-day agency operations significantly below levels called for by controversial automatic spending cuts. They are just starting to take effect though their bite has yet to cause broad-based pain.

Even as it proposes repealing Obamacare, the Ryan plan preserves more than $700 billion in the health care law's cuts to Medicare providers over a decade -- just as more than $600 billion in tax hikes on the wealthy enacted in January make it easier for Ryan's budget to predict balance.

Ryan also proposes overhauling the tax code by eliminating many or most tax deductions and using the savings to lower income tax rates, with a top rate of 25 percent instead of 39.6 percent.

As the two side battle over future-year budgets, top Senate Democrats and Republicans late Monday released a catchall government funding bill for the ongoing fiscal year that denies Obama new money for implementing signature first-term accomplishments like new regulations on Wall Street and his expansion of government health care subsidies, but provides modest additional funding for domestic priorities like health research and highway projects.

Monday's measure was the product of bipartisan negotiations and is the legislative vehicle to fund the day-to-day operations of government through Sept. 30 -- and prevent a government shutdown when current funding runs out March 27.

It sets a path for government after across-the-board spending cuts that took effect March 1. In most cases the minor changes in agency budgets amount to housekeeping within a trillion-dollar cap for the day-to-day operations of agencies in the current budget year.

Passage in the Senate this week seems routine and could presage an end to a mostly overlooked battle between House Republicans and Obama and his Senate Democratic allies over the annual spending bills required to fund federal agency operations.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

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21 Comments

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cyretired

Today I paid $150 co-pay for for my wife's CT, tomorrow I'll pay another $150 for my stress test. Both last year were $50. Co-pay for doctors are $25, last year $15. Medicare doesn't cover insulin which is 1k a month for us both.
We pay a total of 2k in deductibles and co-pays each month along with our premiums. Not counting the combined taxes we paid for to Medicare for 80 years. Which we'll never get to use in our life time.
They will calculate COLR for SS to give us lower raises soon.
And they want us to pay More? Hay I got no problem covering my own as- with private investments for retirement if we were 21. But don't tell me now after taking all our money and are too old to do anything about it.
These fools kicked the can since the 1940's knew the baby boomers would get old some day. They built more schools, more homes and more everything to accommodate them. Oh so know WOW we have a problem? Duh? Keep our money home for one. Cut your income.

March 13 2013 at 8:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Raymond

Who pays into SS and Medicare? And if these people pay into it. Do they not have the right to that money? And if they are to die, can that money be given to their children. Example. I'm 46. single worked 26 yrs out of my life and put in 400,000 into SS and Medicare. I'm a divorced dad of a 18 yr old. If I die tomorrow, will my 18 yr old get my $400,000 I put into SS and Medicare. And if no, Why not? Who get's my money? If my child does not get that money, then there is something corrupt about SS and Medicare.

March 12 2013 at 8:43 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
drbuckles

Peter Peterson has spent $458 million dollars to get rid of SSI and Medicare because he doesn't believe working class people should have them, and is an example of the oligarchy being able to influence our democracy for their own personal Vendetta, even if the American people like and want SSI and Medicare. Simpson, Bowles, Alice Rivlin, and the liying Ryan, who by the way after his father died, collected a SSI checks, that put him through school, are just shills being bought to put forth these lies. SSI is fully funded and Medicare is the most efficient at providing health care than the private sector, and only Kaiser, a nonprofit, even approaches it. What our health care system needs is cost control not less money.

March 12 2013 at 8:10 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to drbuckles's comment
ehamlin906

I have an idea, let's repeal the huge salary and medical benefits our Senate, our House, and our Congress get. Then force them to have the same insurance they want us to pay for. Also, make them pay for a 401k, and stop the golden umbrella they retire under, that the tax payers pay for and can only dream of having. Perhaps that way, we will get quality candidates without personal agendas and personal interests at hand and they will do what is best for America as a whole, not just their wealthy campaign contributors. Make lobbying illegal, then we will know politicians won't be swayed by any one group in order to make a tone of money. Lastly, only pay them when they actually do the job they were elected to do. Our country shouldn't be held hostage by the most wealthy, I mean, really, Sheldon Adelson admits his casinos are money laundering enterprises, and he keep throwing money at the GOP like a rap star in a strip club. Prosecute the big banks for misusing the TARP money, or take it back. It isn't used in the manner it was supposed to, and the big banks have money in their overseas subsidiaries that they could have pulled out instead of groveling for a bail out when it is still business as usual. Stop rewarding people for moving operations out of this country in order to pay less in taxes. Stop rewarding people for running their businesses into the ground. Paul Ryan is a hypocrite who received Social Security and Medicare when his father died. I am sure Social Security paid his family far more than his father paid in. Neither one of my parents collected even close to what they paid in, my mom died at 69, my dad at 64, where did that money go? Lifetime politicians are only there in office in order to make the most while doing the least. Perhaps if they can't enrich themselves at the taxpayers expense, we could actually get some quality candidates who are able to put their personal interests on the back burner and do what is best for this country collectively. Our taxes are supposed to be used to protect us and provide services, and the average taxpayer gets nothing in return. It's about time we get a sliver of what we pay for, rather than screwed.

March 13 2013 at 6:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
stagedrv

Paul Ryan enjoys getting free federal money for his family its your family that bothers him. I feel the American People deserve better than the trash they are trying to sell to us.

March 12 2013 at 8:09 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
stagedrv

I will start to put some faith it what the GOP is trying to sell to the American People from Washington when I see them offer to give up some of their so called perks (healthcare, retirement) given to them. Paul Ryan enjoys getting free federal money for his family its your family that bothers him. I feel the American People deserve better than the trash they are trying to sell to us.

March 12 2013 at 8:07 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Sieben

repuglicans can't seem to understand that all Americans need to be insured , not just a few

March 12 2013 at 7:49 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
lahim

Still trying to peddle the same budget that cost them/Ryan the Presidental election.

What part of the election did Ryan miss? How can this guy and his party continue to ge so far out of touch. Stop with passing this debt onto our children, grandchildren, etc. there has been debt since Washington, and when you adjust for inflation, etc. it is no different.

If this continues the American people will remember this and the House and Senate GOP seats will be in trouble.

March 12 2013 at 7:34 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lahim's comment
Sieben

all Americans need to be insured

March 12 2013 at 7:50 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
yankeedoug1121

hey ryan you do know that had you GOP come up with a healthcare plan you might be sitting in the white house now . this is one of many reasons your GOP lost time to take care of the people who have made politicians rich and put a package together including healthcare! after all 99% of the civilized world already has it.

March 12 2013 at 7:03 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Jim

2016 we can get all these sh!t for brains voted out

March 12 2013 at 6:39 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jim's comment
ehamlin906

It seems that government has lost sight of what really needs to be done. The people voted for what they wanted, and now the party that didn't win wants to punish the entire country. Perhaps we should go back in time when the members of The Congress, The House, and The Senate didn't get the pay, the benefits, or the golden umbrella they get now. It's ironic that when it comes to Congress getting anything done, they made sure they enacted their pay raises quickly compared to anything that would have benefited the country. Perhaps if they didn't make the big bucks or get benefits those who pay for could only dream of getting, we could get candidates who would run to do what is right by the country rather than what is in their personal financial interests. Paul Ryan is a hypocrite, he collected Social Security because his father died, yet he would begrudge anyone else to have the same benefits, even though they paid into them all their working lives.

March 12 2013 at 7:32 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
dreamflyerdreamflyer

Paul Ryan is a joke. All he is doing is campaigning for 2016. Period.

March 12 2013 at 5:32 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply