U.S. House debates budget plans

March 27, 2012 at 8:35 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 27 (UPI) -- A $3.7 trillion budget proposal released by the top Democrat on the U.S. House Budget committee is designed to preserve Medicare, Democrats said.

The measure, authored by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., would combine spending cuts with taxes on the wealthy, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

"It will reduce our deficit in a balanced and credible way, making difficult choices but also making smart investments to keep America competitive," Van Hollen said in a statement. "We will preserve the Medicare guarantee and work to strengthen it, not end it."

Van Hollen's budget was designed as an alternative to the measure proposed last week by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that would transform Medicare into a system that subsidizes private health insurance rather than pay bills directly.

"The Republican budget makes a very clear choice -- tax breaks for millionaires and special interests, paid for by ending the Medicare guarantee, increasing the tax burden on middle-income families, and slashing investments in national priorities," Van Hollen said.

Van Hollen's budget would shrink the deficit as a percentage of the nation's gross domestic product from more than 8 percent in fiscal year 2012 to 2.7 percent in 2022. Ryan's plan would reduce the deficit to 1.2 percent of GDP by 2022, the Post said.

The Hill said Van Hollen's proposal is one of a number of alternatives to Ryan's proposal the House will consider this week.

The Republican Study Committee, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus are also offering budget plans.

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