The narrative was practically already written, and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had to have known it when he released his party's latest budget plan today. The plan would slash $5.1 trillion in federal spending over the next 10 years (spending will still increase, of course, just not as quickly). It cuts spending from welfare programs, but actually adds more spending on the military, restoring it to pre-sequestration levels. And of course, they're still afraid to touch Social Security. But vouchers for Medicaid are on the plan. So is repealing the Affordable Care Act. From the Associated Press:
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled an updated Republican budget plan Tuesday that would slash $5.1 trillion in federal spending over coming decade and promises to balance the government's books with wide-ranging cuts in programs like food stamps and government-paid health care for the poor and working class.
Ryan's plan would also cut Pell Grants for low-income students and pensions for federal workers, while steering away from cuts to benefits for senior citizens, at least in the short term. The proposal would reprise a voucher-like Medicare program for future retirees that would be the basis for GOP claims that the measure would drive down government debt over the long term. It also relies on unofficial scorekeeping help from the Congressional Budget Office, reflecting the beneficial effects of deficit cuts on long-term economic growth and tax revenues.
The plan should skate through the Budget Committee on Wednesday but faces challenges on the floor next week since it endorses a bipartisan pact—negotiated by Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., in December— to increase agency operating budgets this year and next.
Of course the Democrats hate it
Here's part of the White House's response:
Budgets are about choices and values. House Republicans have chosen to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest rather than create opportunities for middle class families to get ahead. The President believes that is the wrong approach and that we should instead be making smart investments necessary to create jobs, grow our economy, and expand opportunity, while still cutting the deficit in a balanced way and securing our nation's future.
Reminder: Ryan's budget reduces by $5 trillion the amount the federal budget will increase over the next 10 years.
Failing to do anything about Social Security didn't stop House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) from accusing Ryan from trying to throw old people down the stairs with his plan to turn Medicaid into a block grant program managed by the states:
"Under this Republican budget, the wealthy and well-connected wouldn't be asked to pay even a little more. But seniors would be asked to pay more for preventive services and prescription drugs and see the end of the Medicare guarantee. Families would witness devastating cuts to research, innovation, education, clean energy, and manufacturing, ceding economic leadership to other nations. All Americans would see a budget that rejects comprehensive immigration reform, with its promise of job creation, stronger small businesses, a growing economy, and a shrinking deficit.
And in this corner!
Over at Townhall.com, Guy Benson gives his analysis of the GOP's "Path to Prosperity." A couple of choice reforms he analyzes:
(5) Saves Medicare for future seniors, employing the bipartisan premium support system featured in previous iterations of this budget. Less affluent and sicker future seniors would receive more assistance than richer and healthier future seniors. Current seniors—and anyone who was at least 55 years old in 2013—would see no changes. Yes, that "cushion" has effectively been sliced down from ten years to nine. The debt clock keeps ticking, and unless we corral our spending on our own terms, Americans will soon enough experience the very unpleasant business of actual austerity. The government's own bookkeepers have concluded that absent reform, Medicare will be insolvent within the next dozen years.
(6) Simplifies the tax code and broadens the tax base by reducing income brackets to just two: 25 percent and ten percent. The plan repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax (which every year must be "patched" to avoid impacting the middle class), and lowers the corporate tax rate to 25 percent. In exchange for a simpler system and lower rates, a number of deductions and loopholes would be closed.
The full budget proposal may be read here (pdf). And below is the chart the proposal provides detailing the difference between the GOP vision of future public debt and the current direction we're heading:
No really, it's more spending
Over at the Cato Institute, Nicole Kaeding hits on the fact that Ryan's budget is still increasing government spending, providing a nice chart comparing current Congressional Budget Office projections with Ryan's: