House Approves Republican Deficit-Cutting Plan

By: Alan Fram, Associated Press
By: Alan Fram, Associated Press

Washington, D.C. (AP) - Republicans pushed an election-year, $3.5 trillion budget through the House on Thursday that relies on biting spending cuts and a revamping of Medicare to curb massive federal deficits, drawing a sharp contrast with how President Barack Obama and Democrats would tackle the nation's fiscal problems.

House passage came on a near party-line, 228-191 vote. With its doom guaranteed in the Democratic-run Senate, the House measure was essentially a political stage on which Republicans showed voters how they would run Washington if they win control in the November elections - and Democrats fired back by doing the same.

The GOP plan features sharper deficit reduction and starkly less government than Democrats want. It would block Obama's proposal to boost taxes on the wealthy and would instead lower income tax rates while erasing many unspecified tax breaks. Obama's budget would raise taxes on families making above $250,000 and on oil and gas companies, add funds for roads and schools and cull modest savings from domestic programs.

"We think America is on the wrong track," said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the spending plan's chief author and a rising party star who is sometimes mentioned as a vice presidential prospect. "We think the president is bringing us to a debt crisis and a welfare state in decline."

Democrats accused the GOP of writing a plan that would end the age-old guarantee that Medicare would cover most of seniors' medical bills and would slash transportation, research and other programs far too deeply, even as the measure would protect the rich from Obama's proposed tax hikes.

"The more people know about that budget, the more people know it hurts them in their lives," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Congress' budget is a nonbinding road map that suggests tax and spending changes lawmakers should make in separate, later legislation. A House-Senate stalemate over the fiscal blueprint would have scant practical impact as Congress tackles what little budget work it is expected to address before the November elections.

Final approval in the House came after lawmakers swatted down a slew of alternatives over the past two days, including a package by the most conservative Republicans that featured even sharper spending cuts and deeper deficit reduction than Ryan's leadership-backed plan. The conservative plan claimed to turn this year's $1.2 trillion federal deficit into a balanced budget in five years. Most analysts consider that unachievable because few lawmakers would vote for the package's proposed cuts.

None of the competing budgets by Ryan, Obama or House Democrats claim to balance the budget within the next decade.

Underlining the growing influence of tea party and other conservative Republicans, a clear majority of GOP lawmakers voted for the conservatives' plan. It was defeated because virtually every Democrat voted against it.

Republicans forced a vote on Obama's budget and it was rejected 414-0, with Democrats worried that a "yes" vote would provide fodder for campaign ads accusing them of backing anything voters might dislike in the president's plan.

Also rejected was a compromise mix of tax increases and spending cuts offered by moderates of both parties and modeled on recommendations issued by Obama's bipartisan deficit reduction commission. It got only 38 votes.

The GOP package would slice everything from food stamps to transportation. It envisions collapsing the current six income tax rates into just two, with a top rate of 25 percent compared with today's 35 percent. It would also eliminate unspecified tax breaks.

"Our team actually went and made the tough choices, made the tough choices to preserve freedom in America and to deal with our fiscal nightmare," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Democrats said they, too, were eager to stanch deficits that now exceed $1 trillion annually. But they said it needed to be done in a more balanced way, with rich and poor alike sharing the load.

"The Republican budget kicks the middle class in the stomach," said Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y.

The House GOP budget would cut spending by $5.3 trillion more over the next decade than Obama's would - out of more than $40 trillion that would still be spent during that period. It envisions repeal of the president's health care overhaul and sets a course for deep reductions for highway and rail projects, research and aid to college students and farmers while easing planned defense cuts.

It also would cut taxes by $2 trillion more than the president's plan over that time, leaving Republicans seeking about $3.3 trillion in deeper deficit reduction than Obama.

Drawing the most political heat was Ryan's plan for Medicare, the $500 billion-a-year health insurance program for older Americans that all sides agree is growing so fast its future financing is shaky. Both parties know that seniors vote in high numbers and care passionately about the program.

Republicans would leave the plan alone for retirees and those near retirement, letting the government continue paying much of their doctors' and hospital bills.

For younger people, Medicare would be reshaped into a voucher-like system in which the government would subsidize people's health care costs. Republicans say that would drive down federal costs by giving seniors a menu of options that compete with each other. Democrats say government payments won't keep up with the rapid inflation of medical costs, leaving many beneficiaries struggling to afford the care they need.

Republicans would turn Medicaid, the nearly $300 billion-a-year federal-state health insurance program for the poor, into a grant that states could use as they wish. They also would trim its growth by $800 billion over the next decade, out of spending during that time that is expected to exceed $4 trillion.


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  • by Tom Location: Tallahassee on Mar 30, 2012 at 03:01 PM
    What we really need is a REPUBLICAN-CUTTING plan. There are way too many of them and most are knuckle-heads with no connection to reality.
  • by Will Location: Tallahassee on Mar 30, 2012 at 08:46 AM
    There must be some super rich people who make comments here since no one seems disturbed that the Republican controlled House has voted to reduce the max tax rate AGAIN (the Bush administration did the 1st give away) from 35% to 25%. They are going to pay for this with cuts to food stamps, transportation and "unspecified" tax breaks. People who have been out of work or under-employed are getting food stamps and the countries roads and bridges are in need of repair. The only reason to reduce taxed more on the wealthy is if you buy into Reagan's Trickle-down economics model. Seems to me that it's been pretty dry the last decade or so in this country, economically speaking.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 30, 2012 at 10:49 AM in reply to Will
      "cuts to food stamps, transportation and "unspecified" tax breaks." Thank god!
      • reply
        by Will on Mar 30, 2012 at 01:44 PM in reply to
        Are you always that specific in your comments. Such detail! Wow!
  • by Ray Star Location: WTAL on Mar 30, 2012 at 03:02 AM
    In hard times we choose Republicans to be fiscally responsible and build up our money. In good times we choose Democrats to to spend down the money because we kinda like all that feel good spending. Truth is the typical citizen is a combination of both left and right political parties. If this ever changes the USA will be dead...throw dirt on us if that ever happens.
  • by TIME TO STAND UNITED on Mar 29, 2012 at 09:04 PM
    WCTV where is my comment about the breaking new that obama is giving 100 million dollars to an arab country Tunisia?? I probably spelled that wrong because I have never friggin heard of it. Why don't you report that? Americans can't fill their gas tanks or pay their house payment but by God Obama sends 100 mil to an Arab country that wants all Ammericans dead. Great job WCTV,,,,,,,,not bet this want get printed either
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 30, 2012 at 10:49 AM in reply to TIME TO STAND UNITED
      What about all the money he's giving to the muslim brotherhood?
    • reply
      by Gerry on Mar 30, 2012 at 12:18 PM in reply to TIME TO STAND UNITED
      Where does Obama get the money to send to Tunisia? Doesn't Congress have to appropriate the money Obama sends to Tunisia? The US gives Israel 2 or 3 billion in foreign aid and gets a hundred of billion worth of problems in return. Now that's a bargain!
  • by Brian Location: USA on Mar 29, 2012 at 08:25 PM
    When is congress going to learn, you can't spend more than you make, I don't care what party you belong to, its basic math, not politics. I understand why people don't want their taxes raised because congress has shown no real example of controlling and cutting spending. It congress cut the budget to $2 trillion without raising taxes, then raised the taxes across the board, I think the American people would be able to handle that. For those who say tax the corporations & businesses, who do you really think ends up paying those tax increases, I'll give you a hint, its not the businesses, they pass it onto the consumer as a cost of doing business! Wake up America, you can't get something for nothing. As soon as the majority realizes that, only then can we fix the freaking huge hole we are in!
  • by Gerry Location: Tallahassee on Mar 29, 2012 at 07:58 PM
    This is political theatre. You can say anything you like if you don't actually have to govern, if your proposals have no chance of becoming law. Ryan was born 1/29/70, so he is 42. There is an open Senate seat in Wisconsin this year as Herb Kohl is retiring. Ryan is not running. He evidently lacks the ambition, stomach, or popularity to win statewide. Somebody who doubts he can win a statewide race is going to be an asset to a national ticket? I don't think so. Ryan is basically a niche candidate. He and his budget are not to be taken seriously.
    • reply
      by Gerry on Mar 30, 2012 at 06:41 AM in reply to Gerry
      The democrats are intimidated by the Ryan budget.
    • reply
      by Reagan Republican on Apr 4, 2012 at 08:59 PM in reply to Gerry
      @ Gerry Ryan had the "ambition and "stomach" to propose for a vote his budget. Why has the SENATE not had the "stomach" to even propose a budget in 3 years? The Democrats and Pres. Obama point fingers of blame towards others but they don't have any solutions. GET REAL....
  • by Wilson on Mar 29, 2012 at 04:31 PM
    When is the Congress going to attack the ILLEGAL ALIENS coming into our country. They are what is bankrupting us. There are jihadists, mexicans, hondurans, south americans, you name it we've got it. They are bringing diseases, crime, and breaking our Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. Why won't they say: IF YOU DON'T PAY IN, YOU DON'T GET IT OUT. That's what they need to do. AND STOP GIVING THEM VOUCHERS (before they do - because that's what they are fixin to do)
  • by Anonymous on Mar 29, 2012 at 02:48 PM
    i have an idea. ask every senator and representative to take a 10% pay cut and buy their own lunch and spend their own money to get to and from D.C.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 30, 2012 at 06:57 AM in reply to
      You're an idiot. The only way to actually cut the deficit is to cut programs. You're talking about saving maybe a few million when what we need to cut is several hundred billion. If you can't make a real contribution, you just wasting space.
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