Paul Ryan's new budget whittles spending faster, still guts 'Obamacare'
Rep. Paul Ryan, GOP budget meister, unveils his latest budget blueprint Tuesday. It's not much different from his plan in prior years, but it accelerates the time frame for achieving a balanced budget.
Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget is back – and the new budget looks a lot like its predecessors.Skip to next paragraph
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The House Republican budget, which Democrats deride as an antigovernment slasher novel and Republicans hail as their courageous blueprint to save the nation from fiscal ruin, is back for its third iteration, with the GOP's Mr. Ryan, of Wisconsin, unveiling his proposal on Tuesday. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D) of Washington, meanwhile, will offer her own proposal on Wednesday, ending a four-year streak in the Democratic-led Senate without a budget plan.
Thus, Senator Murray and Representative Ryan set the stage for the political fireworks that accompany documents that have more import for political campaign material than for actual governance.
The newly minted Ryan budget equalizes government spending and revenues within the next decade (versus nearly three decades under his plan from last year). Besides that, its planks are similar to those that Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, has proposed in the past.
His plan, for instance, still takes aim at President Obama's signature health-care reform law. Repealing it would account for $1.8 trillion of the total $4.6 trillion in deficit reduction (all achieved via spending cuts) forecast over the next decade. (Spending $4.6 trillion less is about a 10 percent reduction over 10 years.)
And Republicans still want either to send social insurance programs such as Medicaid, which offers health insurance to the poor, to state governments or to tighten eligibility standards for programs such as subsidized college loans and food assistance. Total savings from such social services: $1.6 trillion in the next decade.
In one area, House Republicans favor spending more: The Ryan budget uses some of these cuts to pay for $500 billion in additional defense spending over the next 10 years.
Overall, Ryan's new proposal will cut roughly the same amount of money over the next 10 years as his 2012 budget did. But this year he is driving to attain a balanced budget sooner after last year decrying the "fiscal cliff" deal that raised taxes on the rich, adding more than $600 billion to federal revenues over the next decade.
What’s somewhat unusual is how the Ryan budget treats the coming fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1.
That's the year that matters most to lawmakers, because congressional budgets are only as good as the next government funding cycle. That’s the time frame in which budget instructions are supposed to serve as guidelines for House and Senate appropriations committees to set government-spending levels. Though budget plans look out 10 years, no Congress can bind a future Congress regarding taxing and spending. That's why conservatives such as Rep. Justin Amash (R) of Michigan are keen to ask how much spending is being cut right now, not 10 years in the future.