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Ryan Unveils New Budget Blueprint...and Here's a Rundown

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"The question is: which future will we choose?"

After a bitter political fight with Democrats in 2011 that resulted in Congress failing to pass a budget for the third straight year, Republicans controlling the House have stepped to plate once again, unveiling the blueprint Tuesday for their budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Accompanied by a slick new YouTube video and op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, House Republicans led by Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan plan to slash domestic spending, lower tax rates and balance the budget by 2040.

"Courageous Democrats have joined our efforts. And bipartisan opposition to the path of broken promises is growing," writes Rep. Ryan in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal Tuesday. "And so Tuesday, House Republicans are introducing a new Path to Prosperity budget that builds on what we've achieved."

Last year, Rep. Ryan's budget passed in the House but was ignored by Senate Democrats. Democratic congressional candidates used the budget in campaign ads directed towards seniors concerned about Medicare, which Republicans accused as "scare tactics" that distorted the reality of their plan.

If enacted into law, the Associated Press reports that the GOP's new plan would wrestle the deficit to a manageable size in short order, but only by cutting Medicaid, food stamps, Pell Grants and a host of other programs that Obama has promised to protect:

"To deal with the influx of retiring Baby Boomers, the GOP budget reprises a controversial approach to overhauling Medicare that would switch the program - for those under 55 today - from a traditional 'fee for service' framework in which the government pays doctor and hospital bills to a voucherlike 'premium support' approach in which the government subsidizes purchases of health insurance.

Republicans say the new approach forces competition upon a wasteful health care system, lowering cost increases and giving senior more options. But Democratic opponents of the idea say the new system - designed by Ryan and liberal Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon - cuts costs too steeply and would provide the elderly with a steadily shrinking menu of options and higher out-of-pocket costs."

Rep. Ryan argues that the new plan achieves real spending discipline, not at the sacrifice of our military, and gets the nation's fiscal house in order by ending "the epidemic of crony politics and government overreach that has weakened confidence in the nation's institutions and its economy. "

The Washington Post reports that the new proposal would replace the current tax structure’s six brackets with just two tax levels, a 10-percent marginal tax rate for lower-income earners and 25-percent for upper-income earners.

"That would be a reduction from the current top marginal rate of 35 percent. The plan would also lower the top corporate income tax rate to 25 percent and virtually eliminate taxes on corporate profits brought back from overseas. And it would do away with the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was designed to hit the wealthiest taxpayers, but increasingly also affects upper-middle-income earners.

Republicans have been urging an overhaul that would make the tax code simpler and easier to understand while lowering rates, which they believe will spur economic growth and prove a politically potent election-year message. Ryan’s proposal is similar to ones offered by both GOP presidential candidates former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum."

While Republicans have been met with some willingness to legislate from lone Democrats, like Oregon's Ron Wyden, all signs point to political partisanship and Democrats attempting to use the budget not as a practical measure but as a campaign issue once again.

POLITICO reports that Democrats are organizing media blitzes, House floor speeches and town halls back home to slam the Ryan budget, before unveiling their own budget next week which calls for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes on the rich.

“They can run, but they cannot hide from their Medicare plan, which ends the Medicare guarantee at the same time they’re providing big new tax breaks to millionaires and protecting special interest tax loopholes,” Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen told POLITICO in an interview Monday.

POLITICO notes that the DCCC announced Monday that it raised $6.3 million in February and had $16.4 million cash on hand — giving Democrats plenty of money to use against the GOP and Ryan's plan this cycle.

President Obama released his budget for FY 2013 in February, a $3.8 trillion spending plan that seeks to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade. The President's plan looks to achieve $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions through tax increases on the wealthy and removing certain corporate tax breaks. The plan will seek to make sure that households making more than $1 million annually pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.

The New York Times reports on the stark differences between White House and Republican plans:

"Under the House plan, the current $1.18 trillion deficit would fall to $797 billion in the coming fiscal year, compared with $977 billion under Mr. Obama’s plan. By 2016, the deficit would fall to $241 billion by Republican estimates. The Congressional Budget Office estimated last week that Mr. Obama’s budget would still have a $529 billion deficit in 2016.

The Ryan plan would accumulate $3.1 trillion in additional debt through 2022. The president’s would add $6.4 trillion, more than twice that total. The Republican budget cuts spending by $5 trillion more than the president’s plan, mandates the repeal of Mr. Obama’s health care law and assumes the elimination of the government-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."

Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, who chaired the failed Congressional deficit reduction super committee, called Rep. Ryan's approach to debt reduction “outrageous and deeply disappointing.”

“By desperately attempting to appease their extreme conservative base, House Republicans are reneging on a deal their own Speaker shook on less than eight months ago,” she said to The Washington Post. “They have shown that a deal with them isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on and they are threatening families across America yet again with the prospect of a government shutdown.”

Rep. Ryan makes his case in the 3-minute campaign style YouTube video "The Path to Prosperity Budget: Your Country. Your Future. Your Choice."
"It's up to the people to demand from their government a better budget, a better plan, and a choice between two futures," Rep.Ryan said in the video, which even had its own trailer released last week. "The question is: which future will we choose?"

The White House responded to the Ryan budget proposal just an hour after the plan's release Tuesday morning. In a statement, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said the plan "fails the test of balance, fairness, and shared responsibility" and would "end Medicare as we know it."

The Hill reports that Pfeiffer said the GOP proposal would "shower the wealthiest few Americans with an average tax cut of at least $150,000" and at the same time would preserve taxpayer giveaways to oil companies and breaks for Wall Street executives.
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