Reaction was swift, strong — and partisan — on Tuesday to Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal.
Conservatives lauded the plan — “The Path to Prosperity: A Responsible, Balanced Budget” — as a definitive blueprint to slashing the nation’s $16 trillion debt and eliminating Obamacare, while Democrats presented a budget outline that would raise $1 trillion via new taxes over the next decade.
The Senate proposal, to be presented officially on Wednesday, will mark the first budget plan from the Democrats in four years.
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“It’s visionary for a lot of reasons, and it focuses on getting the economy moving again,” Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said of Ryan’s budget on “The Kudlow Report” on CNBC. “It is important to show that Washington is finally ready to live within its means.
“Medicare goes bankrupt right now if Congress does nothing,” Scalise added. “We’ve got to use tax reform to get the overall economy moving ahead.”
Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, called Ryan’s proposal “a bold reform plan to preserve Medicare and Medicaid for our nation’s elderly and poor, while making necessary changes to save tax dollars and avoid seeing these programs go bankrupt.
“The Ryan budget also repeals the president's expensive Washington, D.C., takeover of our healthcare.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida sees “the beginning of a serious adult conversation about our nation’s finances and our kids’ future, instead of the senior scare spectacles that have been the norm in recent years.
“Unfortunately, from what we already know about the Senate Democrats’ budget, they’re proposing over a trillion dollars in tax increases that will kill jobs and make it harder for job creators to do what they do best,” Rubio added. “The Senate Democrats’ budget also makes no attempt to balance the budget, meaning it will only continue the steady increase of our burgeoning national debt.”
And Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said: “It’s a credit to chairman Paul Ryan that he put together a budget that balances in 10 years with no new taxes.”
Not raising taxes is critical to the House Budget Committee chairman’s budget, which would cut $4.6 trillion through 2023, would balance the budget in a decade by slashing healthcare spending, would and repeal Obamacare.
Medicaid would be greatly revamped — and Medicare would provide a voucherlike government subsidy for people to buy health insurance on the open market.
“We cut wasteful spending,” Ryan said on Tuesday at a Capitol Hill news conference. “We repair the safety net so that we can help those in need. We protect and strengthen key priorities like Medicare, a program that’s going bankrupt, that’s jeopardizing the health security for millions of American seniors, and we foster a healthier economy so that we can create jobs and grow more wages.
“This is our offer,” Ryan said, according to ABC News. “This is our vision, and what you do is you actually show the country what you believe in.”
But the White House attacked Ryan’s proposal — saying it was repudiated by voters in November — and Democrat Patty Murray of Washington state, chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, outlined her plan.
Under her proposal, the deficit would only be cut through raising $1 trillion in new tax revenues over the next decade — not through entitlement reductions. Spending also would be slashed by $1 trillion over the period.
Murray’s proposal, however, does not balance the budget.
“While the House Republican budget aims to reduce the deficit, the math just doesn't add up,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement, ABC reports. “Deficit reduction that asks nothing from the wealthiest Americans has serious consequences for the middle class.
“By choosing to give the wealthiest Americans a new tax cut, this budget as written will either fail to achieve any meaningful deficit reduction, raise taxes on middle-class families by more than $2,000 — or both.”
For her part, Murray said: “While House Republicans are doubling down on the extreme budget that the American people already rejected, Senate Democrats are going to be working on a responsible pro-growth budget that reflects the values and priorities of middle-class families across the country.”
But Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking GOP member on Murray’s committee, attacked her forthcoming plan as one that merely raises taxes to pay for more federal spending.
“If the Senate majority’s budget actually contains these accounting tricks, it would increase spending above already massive projections for spending growth,” Sessions told The Hill. “Senate Democrats would be proposing a tax hike to fuel even more wasteful government spending.
“Can it really be this is all they have developed after four years of not producing a plan?” Sessions asked. “If that it is so, no wonder why they won’t make their proposal public until after the committee meets.”
As for the Ryan plan, the 2012 vice presidential candidate restores the sequester cuts to the Pentagon — and instead makes domestic agencies absorb them. For instance, non-defense appropriations would be limited to $414 billion next year — or $55 billion below the caps mandated by the sequester, the Associated Press reports.
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The proposal also promises to cut the deficit from $845 billion this year to $528 billion in the 2014 budget year that starts in October. The deficit would drop to $125 billion in 2015 and remain nearly balanced for several years before posting a $7 billion surplus in 2023, according to the AP.
Ryan, however, has revived a controversial plan that would, starting in 2024 for workers born in 1959 or after, replace traditional Medicare with the voucherlike subsidy to buy health insurance on the open market.
Critics have said the subsidies would not grow as fast as inflation does — and would shove thousands of dollars in higher premiums onto seniors fairly quickly, the AP reports.
Regardless, Ryan’s plan was praised by conservatives as a concrete effort to address the nation’s fiscal ills.
“For over 1,400 days, Democrats refused to produce a budget to avoid making tough decisions, taking controversial votes, and being held accountable,” Brad Dayspring, the spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told Politico.
“Since Democratic Senators have refused to do their job, we will absolutely make sure voters know their senators’ liberal priorities and how they voted, whether it’s to raise taxes, increase spending, or whatever else these votes reveal.”
Dean Clancy, the vice president of public policy for the FreedomWorks grass-roots organization, told Newsmax: “We’re still looking at the details, but we’re delighted to see the House leadership doing the serious work of finding real solutions to the governments’ terrible addiction to spending and debt. They got the topline goal right: balance within ten.
“The taxes are a problem, but this plan would certainly be a huge improvement over the status quo,” Clancy added. “We wish they’d go further, and balance the budget within five years, as proposed in the budget plans offered by Sens. Rand Paul [R-Ky.] and Mike Lee [R-Utah] last year.”
David Yonkman, Newsmax Washington Correspondent, contributed to this report.
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