House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan unveiled a fiscal 2014 budget plan Tuesday with an aggressive aim to erase the deficit in 10 years by cutting projected spending by some $4.6 trillion and calling for politically contentious changes in federal laws, including eliminating the 2010 health care law and overhauling the tax code.
The budget resolution for the year beginning Oct. 1, which has already drawn sharp criticism in Democratic circles, is very similar to the plan the Wisconsin Republican issued last year, when it became a template for GOP election-year economic policy priorities. The new outline gets to balance with cuts similar to those in the earlier plan, which set a longer path to balance, and benefits from improved economic circumstances and the tax increases (PL 112-240) that were enacted at the start of this year.
Ryan said at a press conference formally releasing his budget resolution that there is no conflict in accepting the deficit reduction that comes from an estimated $617 billion in tax increases over 10 years and his own plan.
“We’re not going to refight the past,” he said. “Law is law. We know that that’s not going to change, especially with respect to these issues. That’s why we’re saying not only can we now balance the budget faster. ... But we want to do it with a better pro-growth tax code.”
“This is perfectly consistent with our plans,” Ryan said.
The new document, which Ryan called “The Path to Prosperity: A Responsible, Balanced Budget,” would reduce the deficit by $4.6 trillion over the 2014-23 period, eliminating it by 2023. It would reduce overall spending from the current 5 percent projected annual growth to 3.4 percent yearly increases.
A Budget Committee markup is scheduled for Wednesday, serving as a first round of fierce budget battles between Democrats and Republicans this year as lawmakers try to return to regular order with spending plans for the federal government.
“This budget builds on the efforts achieved under the Budget Control Act of 2011 to cap spending,” the plan says. “It would achieve spending reduction, not just through across-the-board cuts, but by scaling back funding for agencies whose recent budgetary increases have fueled crony politics and government overreach that has weakened confidence in the nation’s institutions and its economy.”
A committee spokesman said Ryan’s budget resolution instructions to appropriations committees will set the discretionary spending level at an effective $966 billion for the next fiscal year, after allowing for the impact of sequester. That would present a major conflict with the Senate if the plan that chamber adopts sets a different level for discretionary programs.
Democrats immediately dismissed the budget resolution as a call for “draconian cuts” on education and other programs to fund “tax breaks for the wealthy.”
“If the Paul Ryan budget means the wealthiest Americans get a tax cut while working families see a tax increase, if the Paul Ryan budget means that Medicare will be fiscally solvent but unaffordable for most working Americans, this is a budget we need to reject out of hand,” said Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.