The Ryan Budget, Coming To A Campaign Near You

Apr 1, 2014

Liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans both can find plenty to love in House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's new plan.

For conservatives, there's the promise of a balanced budget by 2024; a repeal of Obamacare; cuts and structural changes to Medicaid totaling $732 billion in savings; a subsidized alternative to Medicare for those currently 55 and younger; a reduction in the top personal income tax rate to 25 percent; and an increase in defense spending by $791 billion over 10 years.

For liberals, all of the above underscores their contention that Republicans care more about the wealthy (whose taxes would be cut most dramatically) than the middle class and the poor.

Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice-presidential nominee and a possible 2016 presidential candidate, plans to get the proposal out of his committee Wednesday. What happens next is unclear, as it's not certain if Republicans can muster enough votes to pass it on the floor.

While congressional budget resolutions never actually appropriate actual money, Ryan's budget plan starts out even less relevant than usual. That's because of the two-year budget deal – which includes top-line spending caps for both this and the next fiscal year – that Ryan and Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray hammered out in December. Murray, a Democrat from Washington state, says there's no need for a 2015 budget resolution and will not be pursuing one.

Which means that Ryan's budget proposal is not likely to get far in Congress but is almost certain to play a major role in this coming autumn's elections – pretty much the same role his budgets have played from the time Republicans took control of the House three years ago.

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