The House passed Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's 2012 "Path to Prosperity" budget resolution in a divided vote Friday afternoon, slashing trillions from the budget over the next decade but angering Democrats with a controversial plan to transform Medicare.
The resolution passed 235-189, with no House Democrats supporting its passage. Just four House Republicans – Reps. Walter Jones, David McKinley, Ron Paul and Denny Rehberg – opposed the bill.
"I want to say congratulations to Paul and the members of the Budget Committee for a job well done," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters at a news conference leading up to the vote. "This budget will bring more certainty to the American people, [and] show the American people that we're serious about cutting spending, because we all know that cutting spending will reduce some of the uncertainty that's causing job creators to sit on their hands."
Rep. Ryan, who is from Wisconsin, unveiled the "Path to Prosperity" earlier this month. Democrats dubbed it the "Road to Ruin."
The plan would cut spending by $6.2 trillion over the next 10 years compared to spending levels in the president's 2012 budget request. Ryan's plan also reduces deficits by $4.4 trillion, but takes decades to balance the budget.
Republicans say the plan would save money by changing the Medicaid system, ending corporate welfare, privatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and reducing discretionary spending below 2008 levels. And, over the long term, the GOP plan would transform the nation's Medicare program, changing it from a government-run system that pays seniors' health bills into a system where seniors buy insurance plans subsidized by the federal government.
Boehner said Ryan's budget proposal is "a serious step in the right direction."
"I'm just hopeful that the president will begin to get serious about the long-term fiscal crisis that our country is facing. It's serious," Boehner said. "It needs to be dealt with now, and we owe it to the American people, we owe it to our kids and grandkids to begin to cut spending and begin to transform these programs so that we can save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security."
Democrats have decried Ryan's budget resolution as a proposal that would "change Medicare as we know it."
"It is an ethic for our country to keep our bedrock promise to our seniors, to keep our promise of Medicare, a benefit they have earned through a lifetime of work. House Republicans are voting to break that promise, jeopardizing the health and economic security of America's seniors," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "Seniors know that the Republican budget means -- all of you here who want hands off your Medicare know "hands off" means end -- what they're trying to: end Medicare and shift health costs to seniors. No."
"We've always said we will judge every initiative that comes before us as to whether it creates jobs, as it reduces the deficit, strengthens the middle class and continues the economic growth of our economy," Pelosi added. "This budget does none of the above, as it ends Medicare. Hands off our Medicare!"
Last night, at a campaign fundraiser in Chicago, President Obama used some harsh rhetoric on Ryan, whom he has publicly praised in the past for offering serious attempts to address the deficit.