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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Republicans to propose big changes to Medicare, Medicaid”

WASHINGTON — House Republicans’ 2012 federal budget proposal will include significant changes to Medicare, shift control of Medicaid to the states and aim to chop more than $4 trillion from the deficit over the next decade, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said Sunday.

Ryan’s broad overview of the plan, which is to be announced on Tuesday, included a combination of entitlement changes and spending cuts that amount to a significantly different approach to deficit and debt reduction than that advocated by President Barack Obama.

Obama’s plan, proposed in February, would cut $1.1 trillion from the deficit over 10 years through a combination of increased revenues and targeted budget cuts. He did not suggest structural changes to the nation’s social safety-net programs — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Republicans said that plan ignored the primary drivers of the escalating debt and deficits, as well as the solutions proposed by a commission Obama appointed to draft a deficit-reduction plan.

In contrast, the Republican budget would change entitlement programs as recommended by the commission.

The proposal would rework Medicare by offering seniors a choice of private plans and restructure Medicaid funding into block grants distributed to the states, while apparently leaving Social Security unchanged, Ryan said. The changes would not affect current recipients of Medicare, he said.

The Wisconsin Republican declined to offer savings estimates, but said the plan would go further than the commission’s recommendations, which proposed nearly $4 trillion in deficit reduction through 2020.

“”We believe in exceeding the goals put out by the president’s debt commission,”” he said in an interview on “”Fox News Sunday.””

The commission’s plan was rejected by both Democrats, who said it cut too much, and some Republicans, who would not sign on to its call to increase government revenues.

Ryan said the House Republican plan would call for “”pro-growth tax reform,”” although he was not specific. He indicated the plan included lower tax rates.

The proposal comes as House Republicans are already battling the Democratic-led Senate over federal spending levels. Having failed to pass a 2011 budget while Democrats were in control of both chambers, lawmakers now are locked in a fight over how to fund the government for the current fiscal year. Federal budget authority expires on Friday, leaving the threat of government shutdown looming over discussions.

That fight involves a tussle over peanuts — tens of billions of dollars — compared with the reductions outlined in the budget bill. Ryan acknowledged the Republican plan was landing in an already bitter and divided political environment.

“”Whether it’s dead on arrival, I don’t know, but where the president has failed to lead we’re going to fix this problem,”” he said.

Republicans hope their plan will shape the debate not only in Congress but also in the political contests of the 2012 campaign, in which Republicans will cast themselves as offering a more “”serious”” solution to the deficit and taking political risks.

“”We are giving Democrats a political weapon against us, but look, they’re going to have to lie and demagogue,”” Ryan said. “”Shame on them if they do that.””

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