House GOP bud­get heats up as a cam­paign is­sue

‘Only al­ter­na­tive’ to loom­ing cri­sis

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY STEPHEN BRAUN

The new debt-slash­ing bud­get plan pushed by House Repub­li­cans heated up as a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign is­sue Sun­day as the pro­posal’s ar­chi­tect, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wis­con­sin, sparred with top Democrats over its po­lit­i­cal fall­out and eco­nomic con­se­quences.

David Plouffe, the se­nior White House ad­viser, dis­missed the GOP plan Sun­day as “a lot of candy, not a lot of veg­eta­bles,” and charged that it would be “rub­ber-stamped” as law if lead­ing Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial hopeful Mitt Rom­ney is elected.

“This is re­ally the Rom­ney-ryan plan,” Mr. Plouffe said, adding that its mix of across-the-board tax cuts and stiff bud­get cuts “show­ers huge tax cuts on mil­lion­aires and bil­lion­aires paid for by se­niors and vet­er­ans.”

The House GOP debt-re­duc­tion plan, un­veiled last week with min­i­mal Demo­cratic con­gres­sional sup­port, is quickly sharp­en­ing as a line of di­vi­sion for the fall cam­paign, pit­ting GOP and tea party pres­sure for a reined-in bud­get against White House and Demo­cratic party alarms about a weak­ened Medi­care sys­tem and tax re­lief for the wealthy.

“This is a sharp, clear dif­fer­ence with two dif­fer­ent fu­tures,” Mr. Ryan said. De­spite grow­ing signs that the U.S econ­omy is strug­gling back to life, Mr. Ryan threw down a marker for the fall na­tional elec­tion, say­ing that the GOP plan is the only al­ter­na­tive to a loom­ing debt cri­sis ver­sus Pres­i­dent Obama’s “path of debt and de­cline.”

The GOP pro­posal — en­dorsed by Mr. Rom­ney last week dur­ing a meet­ing with GOP con­gres­sional lead­ers — would slice $5.3 tril­lion from Mr. Obama’s bud­get in the com­ing decade through tax re­forms and sweep­ing pro­gram cuts. The plan aims to shrink U.S. deficits by $3.1 tril­lion over the next decade, re­duc­ing tax bur­dens while cut­ting Med­i­caid pay­ments and shift­ing over­sight to states and sharply cut­ting other do­mes­tic pro­grams.

Mr. Ryan, the House Bud­get Com­mit­tee chair­man who au­thored a sim­i­lar plan last year sunk by White House and Demo­cratic con­gres­sional op­po­si­tion, agreed that Mr. Rom­ney backed his plan gen­er­ally. But he said the for­mer Mas­sachusetts gov­er­nor might not be in com­plete lock­step with his vi­sion.

“I’m not ex­pect­ing ev­ery­one to en­act ev­ery lit­tle piece,” Mr. Ryan said, adding that he ex­pects Mr. Rom­ney will back the plan’s main planks.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Demo­crat, cau­tioned that his party would blunt the Ryan plan again as it did last year, also not­ing the elec­tion year “con­trast with Democrats.”

He said Se­nate Democrats would of­fer up a ri­val tax re­form plan on tax day, April 15, call­ing for in­creased taxes on wealthy Amer­i­cans along the lines of the “Buf­fett rule” ac­claimed by bil­lion­aire Ne­braska in­vestor War­ren Buf­fett.

“Let’s be fair, you should pay more than your sec­re­tary,” Mr. Schumer said, echo­ing Mr. Buf­fett’s com­plaint that the cur­rent tax sys­tem al­lows the megarich to pay at lower tax rates than many of those who work for them.

Mr. Ryan and Mr. Plouffe spoke on “Fox News Sun­day,” while Mr. Schumer was on CBS’ “Face the Na­tion.”

CBS NEWS VIA AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

“This is a sharp, clear dif­fer­ence with two dif­fer­ent fu­tures,” House Bud­get Chair­man Paul Ryan, Wis­con­sin Re­pub­li­can, said Sun­day on CBS’ “Face the Na­tion” of the debt-slash­ing GOP bud­get plan. It would slice $5.3 til­lion from Pres­i­dent Obama’s bud­get in the com­ing decade through tax re­forms and sweep­ing pro­gram cuts.

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