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House passes GOP budget plan promising deep cuts

By Andrew Taylor

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 05:39 a.m. HST, Mar 21, 2013

WASHINGTON » The Republican-controlled House passed a tea party-flavored budget plan today that promises sharp cuts in safety-net programs for the poor and a clampdown on domestic agencies, in sharp contrast to less austere plans favored by President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies.

The measure, similar to previous plans offered by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., demonstrates that it's possible, at least mathematically, to balance the budget within a decade without raising taxes.

But its deep cuts to programs for the poor like Medicaid and food stamps and its promise to abolish so-called "Obamacare" are nonstarters with the president, who won re-election while campaigning against Ryan's prior budgets. It passed on a mostly party-line 221-207 vote.

The House measure advanced as the Democratic Senate debated its first budget since the 2009 plan that helped Obama pass his health care law.

The dueling House and Senate budget plans are anchored on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum in Washington, appealing to core partisans in the warring parties that are gridlocked over persistent budget deficits. Obama is exploring the chances of forging a middle path that blends new taxes and modest curbs to government benefit programs.

The sharp contrast over the 2014 budget and beyond came as the House cleared away last year's unfinished budget business — a sweeping, government-wide funding bill to keep Cabinet agencies running through the 2013 budget year, which ends Sept. 30.

The House passed the bipartisan 2013 measure by a sweeping 318-109 vote. The Senate had approved the measure on Wednesday after easing cuts that threatened intermittent closures of meat packing plants starting this summer and reviving college tuition grants for active-duty members of the military. The cuts were mandated by automatic spending cuts that took effect at the beginning of the month.

Looking to the future, Democrats and Republicans staked out divergent positions over what to do about spiraling federal health care costs and whether to raise taxes to rein in still-steep government deficits.

The long-term GOP budget plan authored by Ryan, the party's failed vice presidential nominee, offers slashing cuts to domestic agencies, the Medicaid health care plan for the poor and "Obamacare" subsidies while exempting the Pentagon and Social Security beneficiaries. The measure proposes shifting programs like Medicaid to the states but is sometimes scant on details about the very cuts it promises.

The Ryan measure revives a controversial plan to turn the Medicare programs for the elderly into a voucher-like system — for future beneficiaries born in 1959 or later — a program in which the government would subsidize the purchase of health insurance instead of directly paying hospital and doctor bills. Critics say the idea would mean ever-spiraling out-of-pocket costs for care, but Ryan insists the plan would inject competition into a broken system.

The cuts to domestic agencies like the FBI, Border Patrol and National Institutes of Health could approach 20 percent when compared with levels agreed to as part of a hard-fought budget deal from the summer of 2011. That could run the already troubled appropriations process — it features 12 spending bills that are supposed to be passed by Congress each year — into the ground.

Fresh from passing the 2013 wrap-up measure, the Senate was turning to a plan by new Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., that would add nearly $1 trillion in new taxes over the coming decade in an attempt to stabilize the $16 trillion-plus national debt. But Murray's plan would actually increase government spending after the $1.2 trillion cost of repealing the automatic cuts, called a sequester in Washington-speak. That means the net cuts to the deficit would amount to just a few hundred billion dollars in a federal budget estimated at $46 trillion or so over the coming decade.

"We need to tackle our deficit and debt fairly and responsibly," Murray said. "We need to keep the promises we've made as a nation to our seniors, our families and our communities."

At issue is the arcane process by which Congress approves a budget. It involves special legislation, called a budget resolution, that sets nonbinding targets for taxes and spending but relies on follow-up legislation to go into effect.

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honokai wrote:
Before people get confused by all the misinformation. The Republicans won the House in the Last election. Not prior elections. The Republicans are doing what they got elected to do. The White House is doing what is elected to do.. So please don't get started with the talking points about obstructionism and the tea party. This is the House of Representatives elected by the people. Just like the president.
on March 21,2013 | 06:57AM
soundofreason wrote:
Don't tell me to like the president. ;)
on March 21,2013 | 07:33AM
false wrote:
And you like the tea party? Sheez
on March 21,2013 | 10:57AM
palani wrote:
What do you have against mostly senior citizens peacefully expressing their concerns about unsustainable budget deficits and their ultimate, burdensome impact on our children?
on March 21,2013 | 11:01AM
OldDiver wrote:
Democrats in races for the U.S. House of Representatives received a million and a half votes more than Republicans. This is due to Republicans gerrymandering the voting districts. The American people voted for a Democratic House but through cheating Republicans won the House.
on March 21,2013 | 11:30AM
Denominator wrote:
Take a civics class and grow up.
on March 21,2013 | 12:57PM
palani wrote:
Also, honokai people should not get confused over what are being falsely characterized as "deep cuts". There are NO cuts! ZERO! The House budget increases spending every year.
on March 21,2013 | 11:08AM
kainalu wrote:
And on that note, the market tumbles today. The self-inflicted wound to our economy that had up to this point, rebounded to the highest levels ever seen. smh.
on March 21,2013 | 07:58AM
Pacej001 wrote:
"economy that had up to this point, rebounded to the highest levels ever seen". Huh? Whut? Howzat? Last quarters economic growth was .1%, last year it was barely above 2%, our labor participation rate (% of people who would work if they could) is the lowest in over thirty years, the unemployment rate is stalled at around 7.7% (real unemployment is close to 14%). And you're smhing because you think the 2014 GOP budget resolution had something to do with it? Sequester maybe, that gigantic 1.4% cut to 2013 spending? A single day blip in the stock market? I can think of about 10, 000 more plausible reasons for our slow economy, but I'll sum it up for you:It's Obama's Fault.
on March 21,2013 | 09:25AM
false wrote:
The article is wrong to say the Ryan Plan shows "it is possible, at least mathematically, to balance the budget within a decade without raising taxes." Nonsense. The "math" used by the GOP makes false assumptions about reduced taxes stimulating economic growth, while the loss of programs (and jobs) caused by the cuts will NOT increase unemployment, reduce private sector spending and deepen the deficit. It is hallucinatory "economics," totally "faith-based" economics. And the FAITH involved is, as GHW Bush once said, "Voodoo."
on March 21,2013 | 07:58AM
AhiPoke wrote:
Isn't the democrat's plan also "Voodoo", as it doesn't reduce reduce the deficit in any meaningful way? The problem seems to be that both sides have dug in and it's now more about politics than doing what's best for our country. IMO, there's no way to improve our economy without reducing the deficit. Not doing so means we're on our way to becoming the next Greece or Cyprus. And, there's no way to reduce the deficit without inflicting some pain. The democrats seem to have the political upper hand because more people want to believe we can correct our economy without inflicting pain. I call that "Voodoo" economics.
on March 21,2013 | 08:32AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Not a budget that would ever pass. However, neither is the budget resolution passed by the democrat senate with its job killing tax increases and deficit reduction hallucinations such as counting the termination of the Iraq and Afghan wars as deficit reduction or its complete failure to address runaway entitlements which are on track to go bankrupt (Medicare) just out side the 10 year budget window and, in the longer term, kill our economy. On the bright side, at least the democrats have finally produced a budget after four years of failing to do so.
on March 21,2013 | 08:20AM
Allenk wrote:
I wonder how well the insurance purchased health care will work? Will it stimulate certain sectors of the industry, but at the same time offer persons a basic watered down plan? It sounds like it would take the accounting/administrative headaches out of the hands of government bureaucracy.
on March 21,2013 | 08:48AM
entrkn wrote:
We all have to remember this moment of revelation by Republicans as they demonstrate that they are willing and eager to cut middle class jobs back 20% or worse, cut entitlements to seniors dramatically, and weaken our national defense, national security, and economy, just to protect tax breaks and tax loopholes that benefit wealthier people which they are in no way entitled to. The Republican is neither relevant nor an asset to the American government any longer, and its past time to vote them out of government completely and for good.
on March 21,2013 | 09:27AM
Anonymous wrote:
False statements. False premise. Obama demands a balanced approach. He got his tax increase in Jan. Now he wants another one while reneging on his commitment to cut spending, the whole reason for the sequester deal. And you forget that the sequester was Obama's proposal, created and sold by his own director of OMB, Jack Lew. ------ You say the GOP wants to cut entitlements. I say the democrats know full well that the largest entitlement, Medicare, will be insolvent in just over 10 years and yet they refuse to do anything about it. Our entitlement unfunded liability is over $60 trillion and the president, who said that our debt and deficits are unsustainable, has no plan to deal with it. There is no way that piling more taxes on the "rich" will provide enough revenue to fill the money pit the democrats have created.
on March 21,2013 | 11:38AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
Both parties need to make adjustments. It is not a Republican or Democratic thing. It is our nation that is at risk. It seems that our Congress is serving their parties and not the people. The Republicans seem to be using this situation to try and gain grounds to their road to increasing their numbers in Congress. The Democrats seem to be unable to make adjustments to their plans. The Republicans are content with just simply allowing the cuts to occur so that they can say afterwards, "It was the Democrats' fault because they wouldn't not work with us." The president needs to take command of the situation and make compromises, as painful as it may seem, to avert a lot of the cuts that would result. At the same time, the president needs to make cuts where it needs to be made. The Republicans need to stop trying to negotiate rather than to have an all or nothing mentality.
on March 21,2013 | 09:53AM
false wrote:
Finally something that makes sense! But it may not happen. Very sad.
on March 21,2013 | 10:59AM
Anonymous wrote:
The republicans are trying to cut spending. The democrats have no plan, just now producing their first budget resolution in 4 years. The republicans have offered amendments to allow flexibility with the sequester cuts, the democrats have denied that flexibility. The president is out of the country. Maybe that's a plus.
on March 21,2013 | 11:41AM
false wrote:
No mention of cutting out tax loop holes to the wealthy and large corporation. Hard to imagine America wanted to elect people like Ryan and other tea partiers. Cuts always on the back of the people and more so to those who can't take anymore cuts.
on March 21,2013 | 10:56AM
Anonymous wrote:
American corporations already pay the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Even after the "loopholes" they pay more than many developed countries, quite a few of which are lowering corporate tax rates to stimulate economic growth and make themselves more competitive. Your prescription would achieve the opposite.
on March 21,2013 | 11:43AM
Denominator wrote:
Some of us find you hard to believe too!
on March 21,2013 | 12:59PM
palani wrote:
People should not get confused over what are being falsely characterized as "deep cuts". There are NO cuts! ZERO! The House budget increases spending every year.
on March 21,2013 | 11:10AM
Anonymous wrote:
Thank you for that ray of perspective---- which will be totally ignored by those commenting on this subject.
on March 21,2013 | 11:44AM
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