- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 5, 2011

House Republicans introduced a budget plan Tuesday that would reduce government spending by $5.8 trillion during the next decade through a series of program cuts, entitlement reforms, tax code overhauls and a repeal of the 2010 health care law.

The plan, proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, would far exceed President Obama’s aim to cut the deficit by more than $1 trillion during the next decade.

Republicans, who have controlled the House since January, hailed Mr. Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” as a rational and detailed response to tackle the nation’s runaway deficit and spending. Democrats countered that Mr. Ryan was trying to ram through harsh and irresponsible spending cuts that would harm vulnerable Americans, including senior citizens.

“We have a moral imperative … to stand up and do what is necessary to fix this country,” Mr. Ryan said. “We need a fact-based budget - no more accounting tricks, no more budget gimmicks.”

The GOP proposal in total has little or no chance of becoming law this year or next, as key elements almost certainly would die in the Democrat-controlled Senate. The non-binding budget blueprint instead will serve as a starting point when debate on the federal government’s spending bills heats up in the coming months.

"We have a moral imperative ... to stand up and do what is necessary to fix this country," House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, said of his budget proposal that reduces government spending by $5.8 trillion over the next 10 years. (Associated Press)
“We have a moral imperative … to stand up and do what ... more >

But Mr. Ryan warned that Congress must slam the breaks on spending quickly or risk a catastrophic economic collapse.

“The nation’s fiscal trajectory is simply not sustainable,” he said.

The Ryan plan aims to eliminate or curtail hundreds of federal programs Republicans considers duplicative, hold to a previous GOP pledge to ban earmarks and bring non-security discretionary spending to below 2008 levels.

The plan would lower government spending to less than 20 percent of the economy - in contrast to an estimated 25 percent of the economy this year. And it promises to reach “primary balance” - when yearly revenues match annual expenses, save for debt payments, by 2015.

Despite Mr. Ryan’s proposed spending cuts, his plan wouldn’t show a budget surplus for about two decades. But he said the country faces “bitter European-like austerity,” including tax increases and cuts to seniors’ programs, unless spending is significantly curbed immediately.

“We want to pre-empt that kind of austerity,” he said. “It’s going to take a long time to dig our way out of this problem.”

House Republicans also say the proposal would help stimulate the economy, citing an analysis of the plan by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, that it would help create almost a million private sector jobs next year.

But Democrats say Mr. Ryan’s push to balance the budget would be done so on the backs of the poor, working class and seniors.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, called the plan a “recycled rigid ideology” that would “will weaken American in the long run.”

“It is not courageous to protect the most powerful interests and the very wealthy at the expense of critical investments in our country,” he said.

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