House Passes Paul Ryan Budget, Would Reform Medicare

By a mostly party-line vote, the House of Representatives approved Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" budget resolution today by a count of 228-191, slashing trillions of dollars in federal spending over the next decade, but inflaming Congressional Democrats for proposing controversial reforms to programs like Medicare.

The measure is doomed in the Senate where Democrats have the majority, but the Ryan budget still exposes vast differences between the two parties in a pivotal election year.

"We think Americans should control their destinies and we trust them to make the right choice about the future of our country," Ryan, the chairman of the House budget committee, said. "We are offering the nation a choice. We are offering the nation a better way forward. And we are offering the nation a plan to renew America and the American Idea."

Ryan's budget blueprint claims less than $5 trillion relative to the president's budget proposal, and spends $3.5 trillion less over 10 years than the current spending levels. It also brings deficits below 3 percent of GDP by 2015. It would raise $2.73 trillion in tax revenue in 2013, leaving a $800 billion projected deficit for 2013 compared to $3.53 trillion in budget outlays.

Zero Democrats supported the proposal while 10 Republicans voted against it.

"There is no balance in this proposal. Seniors, middle class, vulnerable, working Americans are asked to pay the price of this agreement," House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said. "Not only are they asked to pay the price, but the best-off among us is asked to do the least."

Democrats criticized the blueprint for abandoning the economic recovery, ending the Medicare guarantee, and cutting domestic spending. Ryan's proposal lowers the discretionary spending cap from $1.047 trillion to $1.028 trillion for FY2013, which Democrats suggested breaks a deal Congress made last year to increase the debt limit.

"It is a path to greater prosperity if you're already wealthy, but it leaves seniors, working Americans, and future generations behind," Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the Budget committee, said. "Unfortunately, our Republican colleagues stood in opposition to our fair and balanced approach."

Democrats offered their own budget resolution alternative, but were only able to pick up 163 votes on it, with 22 Democrats opposing their proposal and no Republicans supporting it either.

Lawmakers are already expecting voters to provide one of the parties with a clear mandate to legislate next November .

"When the president and I were in our discussions and we would get hung up or have a disagreement over something, the president would look at me and say, 'John, that's what elections are for,'" House Speaker John Boehner said earlier today. "Yes, Mr. President, you're correct. That's what elections are for."

The 10 Republicans voting against the Ryan budget this year were Reps. Justin Amash, Joe Barton, John Duncan, Christopher Gibson, Tim Huelskamp, Walter Jones, David McKinley, Todd Platts, Denny Rehberg and Ed Whitfield.

Last year only Jones, McKinley, Rehberg and Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul voted against the measure. Paul missed the vote today campaigning in Madison, Wis.