Calling the spending cuts dramatic and wrongheaded, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., ripped the federal budget proposal submitted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wi., earlier this week.
“The Path to Prosperity” is a fiscal plan that cuts $5 trillion more in spending than President Obama’s budget proposal by making deep cuts to domestic spending and entitlement programs. Supporters highlight the provisions also reform the U.S. tax code, protects defense spending, repeals Mr. Obama’s health care law and and blocks a proposed tax increase on wealthier Americans.
Democratic lawmakers, however, have pounced on the plan for going after social safety net programs such as Medicare, which would be cut by $205 billion under Ryan’s plan. And several observers have pointed out the plan could backfire on GOP candidates in the fall election whether they side for or against certain provisions.
Yarmuth says the GOP proposal has American priorities backwards and provides more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations while passing the cost to the middle-class and poor.
“It’s more than a political statement it is actually a very, very significant gift to the people who have done so well in the economy and a slap in the face for virtually everybody else,” he says.
Under the Ryan plan, seniors are given the option of switching their Medicare to a voucher to buy insurance on the open market. But critics say that would leave the elderly open to being rejected by private insurers while shrinking Medicare.
Ryan has defended the proposal as empowering seniors, introducing competition to the system and taking away the choice from Washington bureaucrats.
“This budget offers a blueprint for safeguarding America from the perils of debt, doubt and decline,” he says. “Americans, not Washington, deserve to choose the path their nation takes, and this budget presents a clear choice between the bleak future toward which the nation is currently headed and the prosperous future that Americans can build together with a government that is limited and effective.”
The political ramifications have emboldened Democrats, who hammered last year’s version of the bill in campaign ads, and put Republican lawmakers and candidates under fire. Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney has commended the Ryan plan and was quickly hit by the Obama campaign for supporting “radical policies.”
And though Ryan worked with U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Or., to craft a bipartisan measure, the proposal is very different from the president’s plan and experts predict it has no chance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Yarmuth says the differences in the two budgets demonstrates a widening gulf between Democrats and Republicans for voters to think about in the fall election.
“When the American voters goes to the polls this November they’ll have a clear choice as to which direction they want to go in. Whether they want to cut vital spending that helps the middle-class, working families and seniors or whether they want to make the kind of investment that the president’s budget proposes and ask the very wealthiest Americans to contribute a little bit more to that,” he says.