Policy: Budgets & Deficits

Paul Ryan proposes balanced budget plan that reforms entitlements, tax code

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,Paul Ryan,Entitlements,PennAve,Economy,Budgets and Deficits,Tax Reform

Rep. Paul Ryan on Tuesday raised the curtain on his ten-year budget blueprint, unveiling a plan that balances the budget, reforms Medicare and Medicaid and simplifies the tax code.

The nearly 100-page document calls for a multitude of reforms throughout the domestic, defense and entitlement budgets that Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee, pledged would result in savings of $5.1 trillion over the next decade, resulting in a budget surplus by 2024.

The House will hold a hearing on the plan Wednesday, and GOP leaders have said there will be a vote on the proposal in the coming weeks.

Without a single Democrat likely to vote for it, there is no guarantee House Republicans can pass it.

The plan sticks to a bipartisan spending agreement hammered out by House and Senate lawmakers in December that calls for $1.014 trillion in spending in 2015. The agreement restored about half the cuts made under the Budget Control Act, also known as the sequester, which deeply angered many GOP conservatives.

The Wisconsin Republican and 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee said his plan would, over the next nine years, spend significantly less than the caps set under the Budget Control Act.

With Democrats in charge of the Senate and President Obama in the White House, Ryan's budget proposal won't go any further than the House even if it does pass.

But ideas within it will likely be seen again in future plans and could perhaps be included in a budget agreement in 2015 if Republicans take control of the Senate.

Democrats will be eager to utilize Ryan's plan as campaign fodder to energize their base, particularly the welfare work requirements and savings, as well as the proposals to reform Medicare, which they say could result in seniors paying much more for health care.

“Is this year's House Republican budget, with its even more extreme budget cuts, really just a bad April Fools' Day joke?” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in an email to reporters before Ryan's budget was made public.

The plan includes many elements of past Ryan budget proposals, such as converting Medicare into a “premium support” program that would provide seniors with stipends to purchase health insurance, a plan Democrats and President Obama vigorously oppose. It also calls for the repeal of Obamacare.

The document also outlines several new proposals that are likely to be just as controversial as Ryan’s ideas for shoring up Medicare.

One proposal, for example, calls for reforms to the nation’s welfare and food assistance programs, greatly expanding work requirements for those who receive welfare and food stamps.

Ryan proposes converting the federal food stamp program into a block grant program administered by the states that would include work requirements and job training. Such a move would save $125 billion over a decade, according to the budget proposal.

And the plan would significantly shrink the federal civilian workforce by allowing the administration to hire only one new employee for every three who leave government employment.

“This budget stops spending money we don't have,” the proposal reads. “A balanced budget will foster a healthier economy and help create jobs.This will ensure the next generation inherits a stronger, more prosperous America.”

Every segment of the budget proposal is aimed at reducing and reforming federal spending, but Ryan proposes reversing some controversial defense cuts authorized recently by the Obama administration that would reduce the size and power of the military.

The budget proposal funds defense spending in excess of the plan put forward recently by President Obama, which would reduce the size of the Army to pre-World War II numbers.

Ryan’s budget said Obama’s defense reduction, “entails significant risk in an environment that, as has been noted, is extremely challenging and uncertain.”

The proposal would make significant changes to the tax code, reducing the corporate tax rate to 25 percent and eliminating the seven tax bracket structure and replacing it with just two brackets of 10 and 25 percent.

Ryan's budget proposal doesn't call for any changes to Social Security, but would require the president and Congress to propose reform plans as soon as they determine the program is not sustainable for 75 years.

“Social Security is currently paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes,” Ryan said in his budget proposal. “In other words, running cash deficits, a trend that will worsen as the baby boomers continue to retire.”

Paul Ryan FY15 Budget Blueprint

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