Tue March 12, 2013
Congressmen John Yarmuth and Thomas Massie Offer Differing Viewpoints on New Ryan Budget Plan
Led by former Republican vice presidential nominee and Congressman Paul Ryan, the House GOP unveiled its 2014 budget proposal this week
Dubbed 'Path to Prosperity' the spending plan cuts $6.4 trillion from the deficit over the next ten years, slashes corporate taxes by 10 percent and simplifies the tax code by turning seven individual tax brackets into two.
Conservatives also highlight provisions such as authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, an overhaul of Medicare for retirees and another attempt to fully repeal President Obama's health care law.
But liberal critics are slamming the budget for various reasons, including the fact that it cuts domestic services but not defense.
He cuts deep into spending on health care for the poor and some combination of education, infrastructure, research, public-safety, and low-income programs. The Affordable Care Act’s Medicare cuts, but the military is spared, as is Social Security.
There’s a vague individual tax reform plan that leaves only two tax brackets — 10 percent and 25 percent — and will require either huge, deficit-busting tax cuts or increasing taxes on poor and middle-class households, as well as a vague corporate tax reform plan that lowers the rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.
Ryan’s budget is intended to do nothing less than fundamentally transform the relationship between Americans and their government.
Democratic Congressman Yarmuth is more blunt. He says the proposal is cruel and only plays to extreme elements in the GOP.
"It’s one that was repudiated by Mitt Romney last year during the presidential campaign and is one that’s become a liability for Republicans who embraced it. So I’m really hard pressed to understand why Congressman Ryan would double down on what was obviously something that was rejected decisively during the 2012 election," he says.
For many opponents, the new Ryan budget plan was an idea voters rejected in the November election and is identical to past proposals that divided Washington along stark partisan lines.
The deep cuts to education, infrastructure and services for the poor such as food stamps, while increasing defense spending is being seen as more of a political edict for Ryan's presidential aspirations than honest attempt to broker a deal.
"It’s cruel in so many ways that I’m almost from a partisan perspective glad he’s introducing it because a lot of Republicans are going to have to vote for it and defend their positions to the voters. I don’t know why he would put his Republicans colleagues in that kind of a political box, really," says Yarmuth.
But fiscal conservatives such as Republican Congressman Thomas Massie call the Ryan budget "aggressive" and "brave." Previous budget proposals by Ryan eliminated the budget deficit in 25 years rather than 10.
"There are some very brave things in Paul Ryan’s plan that show that he’s attempting to be serious with balancing the budget, and not just for political reasons. He has reintroduced some of the controversial measures for saving Medicare, and those are certain to be demagogued by the other side of the aisle," says Massie.
On Medicare, Ryan's budget would give seniors various options from private plans to a traditional package paid for by the government. A retiree could choose a "voucher," which critics say is an attempt to "privatize" the system.
The budget plan by Senate Democrats is reportedly less ambitious in regards to deficit reduction, cutting only $1.85 trillion over the next decade through an even split of new taxes and spending cuts.
"It's a plausible budget that is much better than what we're operating under right now, and it's going to be interesting to see what the Senate comes up with," says Massie. "We believe in the House the Senate version will never balance the budget in any amount of time. And I think the politics of that will be very caustic for Democrats who have to run for re-election in 2014 in states where Mitt Romney won."