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Politics 2013: Dueling 2014 budgets introduced in House, Senate budget committees

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International   |   March 17, 2013 at 6:14 AM   |   Comments

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The introduction of U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's budget was deja vu all over again, sort of, but with a twist of balancing the federal budget in 10 years instead of further out.

Political observers say his plan won't see the light of day in the Senate, just as the Democratic proposal revealed by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., won't catch any love in the House.

The 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee from Wisconsin's budget would cut spending by $5.7 trillion, reduce the top tax rate to 25 percent and balance the budget within 10 years -- contracting federal spending from 22.2 percent of the economy to 19.1 percent by 2023 and making hay on many of the proposals he advanced while on the stump in 2012.

The plan is a litany of all the GOP desires: less spending, lower tax rates and a rejection of most of President Obama's health reforms (except for cuts in Medicare spending, which Ryan would use to reduce the deficit).

Ryan also took President Obama to task for not submitting a budget on time, again.

"He has missed his budget deadline four times in five years. His blatant disregard for the law has upended the budget process," Ryan said. "Today, Washington budgets by crisis. This budget restores regular order -- because the people deserve an honest account of our challenges and what's needed to confront them."

What remains nearly the same is Ryan's Medicare proposal which would give seniors the option of buying private insurance on an exchange and receiving "premium support" payments -- which opponents have derided as a voucher system. The option would apply to people age 54 and younger, who would see the proposed changes start when they retire in 2024.

The Ryan budget wouldn't make changes to Social Security but would require the president and Congress to develop plans to ensure it remains solvent.

"By living beyond our means, we're stealing from the next generation. By promising a higher standard of living today, the federal government is guaranteeing a lower standard of living tomorrow," Ryan said in explanation. "Unless we change course, we will have a debt crisis."

Ryan's budget would cut $5.7 trillion in spending over the next decade when using one calculation, The Hill said. When using a calculation he devised, which doesn't include savings from a reduction in war and disaster spending, Ryan's budget would reduce spending by $4.6 trillion.

The budget would also cut both the top corporate rate of 35 percent and individual tax rate of 39.6 percent to 25 percent as part of an overhaul of the tax code.

To the dismay of fiscal conservatives, the Ryan plan includes the $600 billion in new tax revenue raised under the January "fiscal cliff" deal -- he counts the money as budgetary savings. Ryan also counts hundreds of billion in additional revenue being raised based on economic growth projections by Congressional Budget Office.

"The law is the law. It is not going to change," he said of keeping the tax revenue, adding he wouldn't relitigate the issue.

As he did last year, Ryan's budget keeps Obama's spending cuts to Medicare under the Affordable Care Act, even though he ripped Obama while campaigning. Instead of plowing the money back into heathcare, however, Ryan's plan would use the money to reduce the deficit.

He also, again, called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which detractors call "Obamacare."

While Ryan's budget aims to reduce the deficit, "the math just doesn't add up," the White House said in response, saying both parties are going to have to compromise.

"Deficit reduction that asks nothing from the wealthiest Americans has serious consequences for the middle class," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. "By choosing to give the wealthiest Americans a new tax cut, this budget as written will either fail to achieve any meaningful deficit reduction, raise taxes on middle class families by more than $2,000 -- or both."

The details on spending and revenue are spare as Ryan defers to the appropriate committees of jurisdiction.

Murray's plan, revealed soon after Ryan offered his proposal, is the first budget from Senate Democrats in four years. It includes nearly $1 trillion in new taxes but would not balance the budget.

The blueprint unveiled by the Senate Budget Committee chairwoman also would end the sequester -- something Ryan's plan keeps in place -- and would replace those spending cuts with an even mix of tax increases and spending cuts.

The budget would dedicate $100 billion to economic stimulus in the form of infrastructure spending and job training, two items Obama called for during his State of the Union.

Once the sequester cuts aren't factored in, Murray's budget seems to reduce deficits by about $800 billion by using the CBO's baseline, The Hill said.

As Ryan did with his budget, Murray would let appropriators specify the cuts, The Hill said.

"Our budget reflects the pro-growth, pro-middle-class agenda that the American people went to the polls in support of last election," Murray said. "I am hopeful that the House of Representatives will join us at the bargaining table and we can work together toward the responsible and bipartisan budget deal the American people expect and deserve. "

Murray's budget also includes language concerning reconciliation instructions on tax reform, a move that could allow the budget -- which can't be filibustered -- to be the vehicle for a tax reform bill, The Hill said. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., has opposed including the instructions in the budget, saying his tax reform efforts would be constrained.

In his document's preface, Ryan acknowledges his blueprint isn't for everyone.

"We understand that not everyone shares our view. And we respect that difference of opinion. Last year, the American people chose divided government," he said. "So this year, we have to make it work. We offer this budget in recognition of that need -- and in a spirit of good will."

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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