The House approved on Thursday a 2014 budget blueprint put forward by its Budget Committee chairman, Paul Ryan, R-Wis., 221 to 207, mostly along party lines. Ten Republicans defected to join the Democrats to oppose the budget.
Under Ryan’s plan, the federal budget is supposed to balance in 10 years, thanks to more than a trillion in savings presented by policies put forward by the Obama administration.
Ryan’s budget holds on to more than $700 billion in Medicare savings from cuts to providers under the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, which Ryan will try to repeal. It also sucks up the more than $600 billion in new tax revenues resulting from the fiscal cliff deal brokered in January. Moreover, a $1.2 trillion deficit reduction package called the sequester remains in place under Ryan’s budget plan.
The House's budget blueprint will cut $5 trillion in spending and overhaul programs like Medicare, which Democrats vow to preserve.
“We want to balance the budget. They don’t,” Ryan said. “We want to restrain spending. They want to spend more. We think taxpayers give enough to Washington. They want to raise taxes by at least $1 trillion — just take more to spend more. We want to strengthen programs like Medicare. They seem complicit in their demise. We see Obamacare as a roadblock to patient-centered reform. They see it as a sacred cow. We think national security is a top priority. They want to hollow out our military. We offer modernization and reform, growth and opportunity. They cling to the status quo.”
Democrats have dismissed Ryan’s budget for -- among other reasons -- its plan to "voucherize" Medicare, a vision they say voters rejected in 2012, when Ryan was the GOP vice presidential candidate.
Now that the Senate has passed a 2013 continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown after March 27, it has time to debate a budget that lays out a different vision for America over the next decade.
The 2014 budget put forward by Democrats – the first in nearly four years – would raise nearly a trillion in taxes and slash a similar amount in spending. While it will not achieve balance, it will get rid of sequestration.
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., criticized Republicans for blocking a budget debate. He particularly blamed Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., who delayed a full vote on the continuing resolution unless there was a vote on his amendment to that bill. Moran was concerned about the sequester spending cuts on air traffic control towers in rural areas. However, the Senate passed the stop-gap spending bill despite Moran’s roadblock.
Reid reminded Moran that all lawmakers are concerned about the sequester.
“That is why the Senate Democratic budget proposal actually reverses the sequester,” Reid said. “The policies outlined in our budget will save hundreds of thousands of jobs and safeguard communities by keeping police, air traffic controllers and meat inspectors on the job. Reversing the sequester would alleviate Sen. Moran’s concern about air traffic controllers in Kansas. But the Senate can’t debate a thoughtful way to replace the sequester if Republicans won’t even let us debate our budget proposal.”
Reid agreed that his party differs wth Republicans on major issues like Medicare, taxes and how to reduce the deficit. However, he said Democrats want to debate.
“We have our differences, but Democrats are willing to discuss those differences,” Reid said. “We’re willing to debate the issues. And with the American people on our side, this is a debate we know we can win.”
Laura is a U.S. politics reporter for the International Business Times. She was always fascinated by the BBC World News each morning on the radio in Jamaica. That, and a love...