Tuesday, March 20, 2012

House Republicans Unveil Budget: Transforms Medicare; Slashes Food Stamps, Student Loans And Support For The Neediest

Conservative Republicans controlling the House unveiled a budget blueprint Tuesday that combines slashing cuts to safety net programs for the poor with sharply lower tax rates in an election-year manifesto painting clear campaign differences with President Barack Obama.

The GOP plan released by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan would, if enacted into law, wrestle the deficit to a manageable size in short order, but only by cutting Medicaid, food stamps, PellGrants and a host of other programs that Obama has promised to protect.

To deal with the influx of retiring Baby Boomers, the GOP budget reprises a controversial approach to overhauling Medicare that would switch the program - for those under 55 today - from a traditional "fee for service" framework in which the government pays doctor and hospital bills to a voucherlike "premium support" approach in which the government subsidizes purchases of health insurance.

Republicans say the new approach forces competition upon a wasteful health care system, lowering cost increases and giving senior more options. But Democratic opponents of the idea say the new system - designed by Ryan and liberal Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon - cuts costs too steeply and would provide the elderly with a steadily shrinking menu of options and higher out-of-pocket costs. Full Post

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