House Republicans’ plan to balance budget based on repeal of Obama’s healthcare reforms and has little chance of passing
Republican budget hawk Paul Ryan unveiled a fiscal plan on Tuesday that he claimed would balance the US budget in 10 years by cutting federal spending but without raising taxes.
Ryan, chairman of the House budget committee, presented his budget – which calls for the repeal of Barack Obama’s health reforms – as a starting point for negotiation with the Democrats.
But the White House rejected it out of hand. “The math just does not add up,” it said in statement, describing it as “the wrong course for America”.
The Republican budget came as president Barack Obama was heading to Capitol Hill to meet Senate Democrats. It will be the first of four meetings over the next three days with members of Congress from both parties that he says is aimed at finding a compromise on tax and spending.
Ryan proposed to cut spending by $5.7tn and reduce the top rate of tax to 25%. It would bring federal spending down from 22.2% of gross domestic product to 19.1% by 2023.
It would reduce spending in 2015 to $3.48tn, $40bn less than the government spent in 2012.
The budget plan is similar to those presented by Ryan and the House Republicans in the past two years. The main difference is an acceptance of tax rises on the wealthy that came into force in the fiscal cliff deal. Asked about acceptance of the tax increases, Ryan said: “We are not going to re-fight the past.”
He is also proposing $560.2bn in defence spending in the fiscal year that begins in October and $6tn in defence cuts over a decade. This contrasts with the pledge to increase defence spending supported by Ryan while vice-presidential candidate in last year’s White House race.
The budget is based on the repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Ryan predicted the law would prove so unpopular it will have to be repealed. “We don’t like this law. This is why we’re proposing to repeal this law in the budget. We believe that this law is going to collapse under its own weight,” he said.
Instead, he is proposing reform of existing Medicaid and Medicare programmes.
He tacitly acknowledged his budget has no chance of going anywhere when he invited the president and the Senate Democrats to present counter-plans. “If you do not like the way we are balancing the budget, show us how to balance our budget,” said Ryan, who met Obama last week as part of Obama’s new charm offensive on Capitol Hill.
The Senate Democrats are working on an alternative budget. Obama, who was supposed to present a budget of his own on 4 February, is also due to present a budget plan.
Ryan argued, as he has done in the past, that unless the country takes serious steps to reduce the deficit, it will be the next generation that suffers. “You can’t continue to kick the can down the road,” he said. “We know we are condemning the next generation to an inferior standard of living.”
The White House press secretary, Jay Carney, in a statement, said the president still believed Democrats and Republicans could unite behind a balanced plan “to grow the economy and shrink the deficit by investing to create jobs, cutting wasteful spending, and strengthening programmes like Medicare and Medicaid. This approach will require both parties to compromise and make tough choices.”
But Carney added: “Deficit reduction that asks nothing from the wealthiest Americans has serious consequences for the middle class.”
Republican House speaker John Boehner said he would “encourage president Obama and Senate Democrats to follow our lead”.