House Republicans unveil 'Path to Prosperity' budget cuts

WASHINGTON — House Republicans rolled out their ambitious vision of the future Tuesday, with a fiscal 2012 budget plan that would cut $6.2 trillion in spending over the next decade, overhaul Medicare and Medicaid, and restructure individual and business taxes.

The plan, crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was unveiled as congressional Republicans and Democrats struggle to reach consensus over how to cut spending over for the six months remaining of the current fiscal year.

The plan, called “The Path to Prosperity,” was formally unveiled Tuesday morning. It would cut $4.4 trillion from deficits over the next 10 years. Ryan plans to detail his views at roughly the same time President Barack Obama meets with congressional leaders to discuss the current year’s budget.

Unless a deal is struck and enacted this week, federal funding runs out Friday which could lead to a government shutdown effective Saturday.

Ryan’s plan is separate from that effort. His committee will begin writing legislation Wednesday to incorporate his ideas, and the full House is expected to consider his proposal next week. But its prospects are dim in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and as details have trickled out, Democrats and liberal interest groups have blasted the blueprint.

“Despite the evidence, however, conservatives continue to make tax cuts for the rich one of their highest priorities. Tax breaks for top earners and for corporations certainly benefit a select few individuals and companies. But they also produce massive deficits that conservatives seek to close by slashing public services,” said Michael Linden, director for tax and budget policy at the liberal Center for American Progress.

“Every dollar Rep. Ryan spends on tax cuts for the rich is a dollar he has to pay for by taking away a service that benefits the middle class since his goal is to reduce the deficit.”

Ryan offered some details of his plan in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece Tuesday. Among the highlights:

-- Spending. Ryan would cut domestic spending below 2008 levels, and freeze the budgets for five years.

-- Help for the poor. Ryan’s plan takes the federal share of Medicaid, the joint state-federal health program for lower income people, and converts it to a grant to states. States would then have more say over how the money is used. He would also make similar changes to the food stamp program, and consolidates many job training programs.

-- Health care. After 2022, Medicare beneficiaries would be enrolled in the same type of health care program as members of Congress. Future beneficiaries could choose from a variety of plans. “This is not a voucher program,” Ryan insisted. Medicare would pay a “premium support payment” to consumers.

-- Social Security. Ryan is vague, saying he want to “enact common sense reforms.” In the past, he has proposed allowing consumers to put their Social Security tax money into private accounts.

-- Taxes. Ryan would create a top corporate and income tax rate of 25 percent. Current top rates are 35 percent.


Ryan op-ed

House Budget Committee – Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Resolution

Related stories from Miami Herald