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Paul Ryan’s final federal budget cuts $5 trillion, reaches balance in 2024
Question of the Day
House Republicans on Tuesday proposed a new federal budget that would make deep cuts to domestic spending, trimming about $5 trillion from projected federal deficits over the next decade and finally reaching balance in 2024.
The fiscal year 2015 plan — Rep. Paul Ryan’s last blueprint as chairman of the House Budget Committee — would freeze revenues where they are and would boost defense spending, while cutting from college loans, Medicaid, the federal road-building program and seniors’ prescription-drug benefits under Medicare.
“We have to stop spending money we don’t have,” Mr. Ryan told reporters.
Senate Democrats, meanwhile, have said they won’t try to pass a budget this year, meaning Mr. Ryan’s plan isn’t likely to become law.
Democrats said it was unrealistic anyway, in that it demanded scorching budget cuts from popular programs — cuts Congress has repeatedly been unable to follow through on.
“This does show what House Republicans would do if they could impose their will,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Budget Committee. “This is a declaration of class warfare.”
None of Mr. Ryan’s previous three budgets has become law. In fact, Congress hasn’t passed a full budget since 2009, when Democrats controlled both the House and Senate and had President Obama in the White House.
This year, however, Mr. Ryan did try a few new angles, including relying on so-called “dynamic scoring” — which means taking account of an economic boost from tax-law changes — to evaluate his budget.
It’s thanks to dynamic scoring that Mr. Ryan’s plan reaches balance in 2024.
The vast majority of savings comes from repealing the benefits of Obamacare, which Mr. Ryan projects would save more than $2 trillion over the next 10 years. His plan does not specifically overturn the tax increases included in Obamacare, but he said he expects Congress would rewrite the entire tax code with an eye to keeping revenue at the same level it is now, while lowering the top tax rate.
The White House, though, said that will mean middle-class families with children will see an average tax increase of at least $2,000, with the money going to tax cuts for the wealthy.
“Budgets are about choices and values. House Republicans have chosen to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest rather than create opportunities for middle-class families to get ahead,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney.
President Obama’s budget, released to little fanfare earlier this year, called for spending $3.901 trillion in 2015, while Mr. Ryan’s plan calls for $3.664 trillion. Over the next decade, Mr. Obama calls for spending $48.705 trillion, compared with $42.632 trillion in Mr. Ryan’s plan.
Mr. Obama’s budget shows consistent deficits of about a half-trillion dollars a year, and never reaches balance. Mr. Ryan’s budget quickly decreases deficits to between $100 billion and $200 billion for most of the decade, then finally shows a surplus of $5 billion in 2024.
In the short term, this year’s spending bills will be governed by the deal Mr. Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, reached in December, which set spending levels for 2014 and 2015. That agreement boosted spending in both of those years, in exchange for a promise of cuts at the end of a decade.
Mr. Ryan said his budget isn’t a rejection of that deal, but said it’s a recognition that more needs to be done — particularly on entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which have been left virtually untouched in the past few years of budget tightening.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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