House GOP budget heats up as a campaign issue
‘Only alternative’ to looming crisis
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.”
“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.