Continued from page 1

Those talks were supposed to forge agreement on raising the country’s debt ceiling, but Democrats said they are now also counting on the negotiators to come up with annual spending limits that would substitute for a budget.

The negotiators met this week, but with a June deadline imposed by Mr. Obama and with one chamber or the other out the next two weeks for a Memorial Day recess, it’s unclear whether progress can be made.

The Treasury Department says the debt ceiling must be raised by the beginning of August or else the government will have to suspend as much as 40 percent of its spending.

In the wake of Tuesday’s special election, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who wrote the House budget plan, released a video pushing back against the attacks.

“We can no longer let politicians in Washington deny the danger to Medicare - the danger is all too real, and the health of our nation’s seniors is far too important,” Mr. Ryan said. “We have to save Medicare to avoid disruptions in benefits for current seniors, and to strengthen the program for future generations.”

With the country’s deficit projected to hit record levels this year and the government bumping up against the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, Republicans have argued the time is ripe to revisit all government spending.

Mr. Ryan’s budget plan began to reduce projected spending increases in Medicare by converting the program from a traditional fee-for-service structure into a voucher-type system for those younger than 55, for whom the government would subsidize private insurance plans once they turn 65.

Mr. Ryan said that competition and consumer pressure would lower costs and lead to savings, but Democrats, buoyed by studies, said seniors would end up paying dramatically more for the same coverage over their lifetimes.