Aug. 27, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Paul Ryan’s Budget Faces a Perilous Future

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (center) is hoping Republican panel members help vote his fiscal 2013 budget out of committee today.

Even if the bill passes in committee, it could face trouble on the floor. Budget Committee freshman Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) said he will vote for the plan in committee but may not support it on the floor because he shares Amash’s concerns about the sequester.

And even if it passes the House, it has virtually no chance in the Senate.

Democratic leaders bristled Tuesday at attempts to cut more from the domestic discretionary budget than had been agreed to in the BCA.

Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) held a briefing as Ryan was unveiling his plan to announce he was taking the first procedural steps in starting the budget process with the BCA’s spending levels.

The BCA requires the Budget Committee chairman to do so by April, but the timing of Conrad’s move served as a sign to Republicans that Democrats will fight further cuts than the built-in $900 billion already signed into law, not including the sequester’s cuts, which kick in because of the failure of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction.

“The Budget Control Act is crystal clear that the spending limits in the resolution should be set at the levels agreed to in the Budget Control Act. Again, here is the language taken directly from the law,” Conrad said.

After reiterating the depth of the proposed cuts, Conrad added, “Now our House Republican friends seem to be walking away from these levels, even though they agreed to them just seven months ago.”

The White House trained its fire on Ryan’s plan even as he was laying it out, with White House spokesman Dan
Pfeiffer saying it “would shower the wealthiest few Americans” with tax cuts and repeating last year’s charge that it would “end Medicare as we know it” because it would shift costs to future seniors.

White House Press Secretary Jay
Carney said the modified version of Ryan’s signature Medicare plan — which retains a public insurance option, unlike last year’s proposal — isn’t much better.

“We do not believe there is much difference at all,” Carney said. The budget “still creates a voucher system.”

He said private insurance companies would “cherry-pick the healthiest, youngest seniors” and increase costs for seniors who stay on traditional Medicare.

Democrats plan to use the Ryan budget to bash Republicans at the ballot box this fall, much as Republicans used the $500 billion in Medicare Advantage cuts in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul to tar Democrats in 2010.

Carney also called Ryan’s tax reform blueprint a “bait-and-switch” because it lays out all of the positive aspects of his tax reform plan — such as dramatically lower rates, capped at 25 percent — without saying how he will pay for it or ensuring the middle class won’t foot the bill.

Carney said that by contrast, Obama has laid out the principle of the “Buffett Rule” that would ensure that millionaires pay at least as high a tax rate as the middle class.

Republicans, however, jumped on a report by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation that said a bill based on the Buffett Rule by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) would raise just $31 billion over the coming decade as a sign that Obama isn’t serious about the debt.

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