From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Wednesday offered a budget vision sharply at odds with the Democratic proposal, calling for sweeping tax cuts, major changes in Medicare and a suspension of the economic stimulus program.
The Republican plan, introduced after days of ridicule from Democrats about the absence of an alternative to President Obama’s proposal, would also freeze most domestic spending for five years, increase Pentagon spending, permanently extend the Bush-era tax breaks and eliminate any taxes on successful investments in 2010 as a way to spur the economy. Republicans said they would spend $4.8 trillion less than Democrats over 10 years.
“This is our budget, with real policies and real numbers,” said Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the senior Republican on the Budget Committee.
Wow!! Real numbers? Sell it, baby!!!!
The Republican budget has no chance of passing as Democratic majorities in the House and Senate press for approval of their own $3.5 trillion spending plans by the end of the week. But House Republicans, breaking with Senate Republican leaders, calculated that offering their alternative could bolster their credibility and quell criticism that they had become the “Party of No.”
A group of Senate Republicans led by Senator John McCain of Arizona proposed its own budget alternative that would freeze federal spending except for military and veterans programs.
After goading Republicans into coming up with a budget, Democrats immediately described it as badly flawed, saying it contained draconian cuts that Americans — and even some Republican lawmakers — would not support.
“If this is an April Fool’s joke, it is not very funny,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, who is helping shepherd the administration budget through Congress.
Representative John M. Spratt Jr., Democrat of South Carolina and chairman of the Budget Committee, said the Republican plan to cut trillions of dollars in federal spending could severely curtail Medicare, which Republicans would overhaul for Americans now younger than 55 by subsidizing private health insurance for them when they retire. Democrats also pointed to a $22 billion reduction in spending on education as another objectionable element.
Under the Republican plan, Americans would also be offered a choice of staying under the current income tax system with its opportunities for claiming deductions or file under a new, simplified system. Families could choose to pay 10 percent on their adjusted gross income of up to $100,000 and 25 percent on income above that level.
Even with the spending reductions and other changes proposed by the Republicans, their plan would still leave annual deficits of about $500 billion, not much lower than the Democratic plans — a fact that Mr. Ryan said reflected the country’s dire economic situation.
“For those Americans who are worried about their jobs and losing their health care, our budget is for you,” said Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 House Republican.
As they approached what they hoped was a final day of budget debate on Thursday, senators agreed Wednesday by a vote of 67 to 31 to support a proposal by Senator Mike Johanns, Republican of Nebraska, to bar a procedure that would have prohibited filibusters against climate change legislation developed in line with the budget.
Democrats said they had no intention of using the fast-track process for a climate change bill. But the vote, with 26 Democrats backing Mr. Johanns, showed how reluctant many centrist Democrats might be to use the shortcut on health care and education policy. That opposition could complicate budget talks with the House, which has endorsed the approach.