Democrats and Republicans wasted no time on Tuesday turning House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan into a partisan rallying point.
Republicans across the spectrum applauded the Wisconsin Republican for putting a serious budget on the table, with $4.4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, especially after Democrats failed to even offer one when they were in charge last year.
Many Democrats privately cheered the release of the budget plan as well, considering it to be a rare political gift and an ideological overreach that will prove unpopular with voters in 2012. They ripped into it with gusto as a boon to the rich at the expense of everyone else, with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) even tweeting against Ryan’s plan during his press conference.
Ryan anticipated what was coming, acknowledging that his plan could help Democrats politically. But he said that Republicans have a responsibility to do something about the exploding federal debt.
“This is the most predictable economic crisis in our history, and what are we doing, playing politics?” Ryan asked at the press conference. “We don’t need clever politicians. We need leaders. We need leadership. And so we believe we have a moral imperative.”
Ryan proposed a sweeping plan, including $6.2 trillion in cuts from Obama’s 10-year budget — putting a legislative straitjacket on domestic discretionary spending and entitlements while repealing the health care reform law. It also cuts taxes another $1.8 trillion, with top rates cut to 25 percent for individuals and corporations.
Medicare would be transformed from guaranteed government benefits to a subsidy to buy private insurance. States would face $771 billion in Medicaid cuts coupled with broad flexibility to cut benefits or eligibility. And Ryan gives a nod to Social Security reform in an effort to prod Democrats to reach a bipartisan compromise.
But even Ryan’s budget didn’t quite go far enough for some. Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, praised the effort but said he plans to put out his own plan later this week to balance the budget within a decade. Ryan’s budget doesn’t eliminate the deficit until the late 2030s.
“We just think you need to balance it a little quicker,” the Ohio Republican said. “We like the ideas Paul has in his. [We’ll be] looking to implement those same kind of concepts, but we think you have to speed it up, because look, we think the financial situation of our country is so serious you’ve got to get to balance.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.