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Ryan: Budget Is Preview of GOP-Led Government in 2013

Ryan: Budget Is Preview of GOP-Led Government in 2013

By Caitlin Huey-Burns and Alexis Simendinger - March 21, 2012


House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled a Republican framework for a 2013 budget Tuesday, calling its proposed entitlement savings and a new, two-tiered tax system of 10 and 25 percent a blueprint of how the GOP would govern if the party wins the White House and picks up seats in Congress.

Ryan said the plan, which would reduce federal spending by $5 trillion more than the budget President Obama sent Congress last month, offered a marked contrast between Republicans’ emphasis on rebuilding a nation of “makers” and the Democrats’ encouragement for a nation of “takers.”

“Do we want to have a safety net that allows people to get back on their feet and allows self-sufficiency so they can reach the American dream and reach their potential?” Ryan asked during a speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “What you have is a government -- a plan -- that turns this safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people into a state of complacency and dependency,” he said.

The White House denounced the “The Path to Prosperity,” as Ryan’s budget proposal is titled, as less than credible. It would not rein in deficits and debt through a balanced mix of spending cuts and new revenues, officials said.

“I think we’ve seen pretty clearly that what this proposal does not do is take the serious approach to getting our fiscal house in order that everyone who’s serious about this issue says you have to take,” spokesman Jay Carney said.

Administration officials accused the backers of Ryan’s 10-year budget plan of coddling wealthy individuals and corporations at the expense of Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries, the poor, the disabled, the middle class and just about anyone who favors government spending on infrastructure, science and research, higher education and the sort of economic innovations that benefit from federal investments.

White House economic adviser Gene Sperling, speaking at an event hosted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, used vivid phrases to describe Ryan’s plan: He spoke of its “tyranny of math,” the proposed “death spiral” for Medicare, a tax “windfall for millionaires,” and “a prescription for economic decline and for shredding the social safety net.”

Sperling’s rebuke -- suggesting an unbridgeable chasm between the parties during an election year and perhaps beyond -- was accompanied by a sliver of hope for bipartisan collaboration in December. After voters choose a president, he said, a collection of action-forcing fiscal deadlines loom that may seize lawmakers’ attention.

The deadlines Sperling had in mind include $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration; tax hikes when the 2 percentage-point Social Security payroll holiday expires at the end of the year, along with the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts; and the potential that Congress might need to agree once again to raise the nation’s borrowing authority to avert default.

“One would hope that if we’re not able to deal with this before the election, that those action-forcing events would empower those on all sides who want to truly seek a compromise that really, truly reflects the shared sacrifice that’s needed for deficit reduction,” Sperling said.

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Caitlin Huey-Burns is a reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at chueyburns@realclearpolitics.com. Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at asimendinger@realclearpolitics.com.

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