POLITICS

House GOP would cancel health care reforms, trim $5t in spending

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Photo - FILE - In this Jan. 1, 2013 file photo, House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. leaves a Republican caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington. A Senate bill to carry the government through September denies the Obama administration money for implementing new regulations on Wall Street and expansion of government health care subsidies but provides modest additional funding for domestic priorities like Head Start and health research. Looking to next year, House Republicans prepare a now-familiar budget featuring futile gestures to block "Obamacare" and turn Medicare into a voucherlike program for future retirees. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 1, 2013 file photo, House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. leaves a Republican caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington. A Senate bill to carry the government through September denies the Obama administration money for implementing new regulations on Wall Street and expansion of government health care subsidies but provides modest additional funding for domestic priorities like Head Start and health research. Looking to next year, House Republicans prepare a now-familiar budget featuring futile gestures to block "Obamacare" and turn Medicare into a voucherlike program for future retirees. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,Politics Digest

The biggest budget battle Congress has faced in years will kick off Tuesday when House Republicans unveil a spending blueprint that would slash $5 trillion in domestic spending while revamping Medicare to make it less costly.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has already angered Democrats by announcing that Republicans' 2014 budget proposal would eliminate the massive expansion of health care coverage mandated under President Obama's signature health care reforms.

Democrats, who control the Senate, are working on their own budget plan, the first in four years if they succeed in advancing it. The Democratic plan is expected to leave the president's health care law intact and pay down the debt at a slower pace than Ryan proposes. It will also raise taxes to offset $1.2 trillion in looming budget cuts and reduce the national debt, something Republicans have refused to support.

Obama is writing a budget proposal of his own, though he already missed the statutory deadline and is now expected to deliver it to Congress next month.

Lawmakers and Obama are hoping the three plans can be merged into a compromise that leads to a "grand bargain" that would reduce the debt and makes changes to entitlement spending.

"These are partisan documents," Marc Goldwein, senior policy director of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, told The Washington Examiner. "They are the start of what is going to be a long dance."

The proposal that Ryan will release Tuesday morning would balance the budget in 10 years by reducing overall federal spending growth from 4.9 percent to 3.4 percent for a savings of $5 trillion over the next decade, Ryan told "Fox News Sunday."

Ryan's budget is expected to largely mirror the budget plan he submitted last year, though it would balance the budget sooner. The new plan also leaves in place the so-called sequestration budget cuts that would trim $85 billion in spending over the next year and $1.2 trillion over the next decade.

"You won't see big surprises in our budget," Ryan said. "We can get to balance, and we can show the country that this is an achievable goal, a goal we all ought to share, that helps us prevent a debt crises. ... That's what we ought to be doing here."

Ryan's budget will include controversial changes to Medicare that he first rolled out last year, including converting the program to provide "insurance premium support" that beneficiaries can use to buy private health insurance. He also proposes gradually raising the age of eligibility from 65 to 67.

Medicare is expected to be a negotiating point between the White House and Republicans in an effort to achieve a long-term deficit-reduction deal. Obama told Senate Republicans at a private dinner last week that Medicare reform is a top priority. Obama also met privately with Ryan to discuss ways to reduce the deficit. Ryan told Fox the two "had a very frank exchange" but clearly come from "different perspectives."

Democrats don't want to change eligibility and derided the premium support proposal as a "voucher plan."

"House Republicans should get serious about the economy and helping middle-class families and small businesses thrive rather than wasting time on budgets that end Medicare as we know it and other political stunts," aides to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Monday.

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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