Ryan to Obama: I'll See Your Budget and Raise You $5.3T in Cuts
House Republicans threw down the gauntlet in an election year, offering today a counter to President Obama's budget plan as Congress barrels toward an April 15 budget deadline -- and the country plummets further into a deficit crisis.
"We've become a nation of net takers versus makers," House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said in his remarks on the 2013 Path to Prosperity at the American Enterprise Institute.
He called the escalating debt drama "the most predictable crisis we've ever had in this country."
Ryan's budget proposes $5.3 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade compared to the president's budget, slashing the deficit to $797 billion next year as opposed to Obama's $977 billion deficit projection. It wouldn't wield the same budgetary ax against the Pentagon, and cuts debt as a share of the economy by 15 percent over the next decade. It repeals Obama's healthcare law and introduces a competitive-bidding process to determine the growth of government's financial contribution to Medicare.
It also proposes major tax reform to lower rates and broaden the base: Instead of the current six income tax brackets, the GOP budget whittles the code down to two brackets of 10 percent and 25 percent. The corporate tax rate would be cut to 25 percent. It prevents $1.9 trillion in tax increases that would go into effect under the president's plan.
Ryan said that bipartisanship support for simplifying the tax code, cutting spending and overhauling soon-to-be-bankrupt Medicare -- a plan he has worked on with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) -- is only growing.
"We are seeing a situation where an emerging consensus is there, but it's not to be gotten with the current leadership in place," Ryan said.
The new budget essentially mirrors the 2012 Path to Prosperity but with some provisions pushed by Democrats in Congress, including Wyden's premium support model for Medicare and other tax reform measures including removing loopholes.
The White House was not one of those partners in consensus. In a statement this morning, Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer predictably blasted the Republican plan as not abiding by its fairness doctrine.
"The House budget once again fails the test of balance, fairness, and shared responsibility. It would shower the wealthiest few Americans with an average tax cut of at least $150,000, while preserving taxpayer giveaways to oil companies and breaks for Wall Street hedge fund managers," Pfeiffer said. "What’s worse is that all of these tax breaks would be paid for by undermining Medicare and the very things we need to grow our economy and the middle class – things like education, basic research, and new sources of energy. And instead of strengthening Medicare, the House budget would end Medicare as we know it, turning the guarantee of retirement security into a voucher that will shift higher and higher costs to seniors over time."
He accused Ryan of reaching for the same "wrong-headed theory" that led to the recession in the first place.
"The president believes we cannot return to a failed theory that didn’t lead to the growth of jobs, incomes, or the economy," Pfeiffer said. "That’s why he put forward a balanced approach that reduces the deficit by over $4 trillion. It’s an approach that asks the wealthiest to pay their fair share, makes tough cuts to programs we can’t afford, and strengthens Medicare with reforms that would reduce overpayments to drug companies, improve the quality of care, and protect Medicare’s commitment to America’s seniors."
The president was welcoming the Irish taoiseach to the White House for a St. Patrick's Day celebration -- which Ryan also went to after his AEI address -- and had not yet commented on the proposal. Obama will be traveling to Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Ohio beginning tomorrow to promote his energy plan.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was quick to back up the Budget chairman, applauding Ryan for "putting together a budget worthy of the people we serve."