The Times West Virginian

Headline News

April 11, 2014

House passes budget with big cuts to some programs

WASHINGTON — House Republicans rallied behind a slashing budget blueprint on Thursday, passing a nonbinding but politically imposing measure that promises a balanced federal ledger in 10 years with sweeping budget cuts and termination of health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The 219-205 vote on the budget outline takes a mostly symbolic swipe at the government’s chronic deficits. Follow-up legislation to actually implement the cuts isn’t in the offing. Twelve Republicans opposed the measure, and not a single Democrat supported it.

The measure passed after a three-day debate that again exposed the hugely varying visions of the rival parties for the nation’s fiscal future. Republicans promised a balanced budget by 2024 but would do so at the expense of poor people and seniors on Medicaid, lower-income workers receiving “Obamacare” subsidies, and people receiving food stamps and Pell Grants.

Democrats countered with a plan that would leave Obama’s health care plan and rapidly growing health programs like Medicare intact, relying on $1.5 trillion in tax hikes over the coming decade to bring deficits down to sustainable but still-large levels in the $600 billion range.

The GOP plan, by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would cut more than $5 trillion over the coming decade to reach balance by 2024, relying on sharp cuts to domestic programs, but leaving Social Security untouched and shifting more money to the Pentagon and health care for veterans. It reprises a controversial plan to shift future retirees away from traditional Medicare and toward a subsidy-based health insurance option on the open market.

While staking out a hard line for the future, follow-up legislation is likely to be limited this  year to a round of annual spending bills that will adhere to a bipartisan budget pact enacted in December.

But the Ryan plan does paint a picture of what Republicans would attempt if they claim the Senate this fall and the White House in 2016. Its cuts to entrenched benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid, however, would be difficult to pass even if Republicans gained control of both the House and Senate in this fall’s elections.

“It’s totally out of touch with the priorities and values of the country,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. “This is a clear road map of what Republicans in Congress would do if they had the power to do it.”

In a statement, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the vote “illustrates once again that the House Republicans’ view of the economy is a top-down approach that cuts taxes for millionaires and could raise taxes on middle class families with kids.”

Republicans say the tough cuts they promise would strengthen the economy because less government borrowing would boost savings and investment. And they say it’s simply unfair to saddle future generations with mountains of debt.

“The sooner we tackle these fiscal problems, the better off everybody is going to be, the faster the economy grows, and the more we can guarantee that the next generation inherits a debt-free future,” said Ryan.

Republicans opposing the bill were mostly tea party adherents such as Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, as well as several members of the Georgia delegation who are competing in a Senate primary. A handful of more moderate members from the Northeast, including Reps. Chris Gibson of New York and Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, also opposed it.

At issue is the arcane congressional budget process, which employs a nonbinding measure known as a budget resolution to set forth goals for future taxes, spending and deficits. But follow-up legislation is usually limited to one-year appropriations bills. The House Appropriations Committee has already approved two of its least controversial bills, those funding veterans’ programs and the budget for Congress itself.

Senate Democrats have announced they won’t bother with a budget plan this year, relying on Ryan’s December pact with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., to guide consideration of this year’s round of appropriations bills.

Ryan’s plan revives a now-familiar list of spending cuts to promise balance, including $2.1 trillion over 10 years in health care subsidies and coverage under the Affordable Care Act; $732 billion in cuts to Medicaid and other health care programs; and almost $1 trillion in cuts to other benefit programs like food stamps, Pell Grants and farm subsidies.

The measure also promises deep, probably unrealistic cuts to domestic programs like education, health research and grants to local governments that are funded each year through annual appropriations bills.

Ryan’s plan also reprises a failed strategy from last year to cut domestic agency operating budgets and shift the money to the Pentagon after 2015. When Republicans tried that last year, the House was unable to pass the follow-up spending bills implementing the cuts. They haven’t even drafted legislation that would implement their polarizing plans for Medicare.

Republicans say the new “premium support” system for future Medicare retirees who are now 55 or younger would prevent the budget from spiraling out of control as more baby boomers retire and the present system collapses. They also say the redesigned Medicare program would offer seniors more choices and curb costs. Critics, however, say the Medicare subsidies wouldn’t keep up with inflation but would require sharply higher out-of-pocket costs for future seniors.

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • U.S. outlines case against Russia on downed plane

    Video of a rocket launcher, one surface-to-air missile missing, leaving the likely launch site. Imagery showing the firing. Calls claiming credit for the strike. Recordings said to reveal a cover-up at the crash site.

    July 21, 2014

  • James Garner Obit.jpg 'Maverick' star James Garner, 86, dies in California

     Actor James Garner, whose whimsical style in the 1950s TV Western "Maverick" led to a stellar career in TV and films such as "The Rockford Files" and his Oscar-nominated "Murphy's Romance," has died, police said. He was 86.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Given life term, drug offender hopes for clemency

    From the very start, Scott Walker refused to believe he would die in prison.
    Arrested and jailed at 25, then sent to prison more than two years later, Walker couldn’t imagine spending his life behind bars for dealing drugs. He told himself this wasn’t the end, that someday he’d be released. But the years passed, his appeals failed and nothing changed.

    July 20, 2014

  • Teen’s death puts focus on caffeine powder dangers

    A few weeks before their prom king’s death, students at an Ohio high school had attended an assembly on narcotics that warned about the dangers of heroin and prescription painkillers.
    But it was one of the world’s most widely accepted drugs that killed Logan Stiner — a powdered form of caffeine so potent that as little as a single teaspoon can be fatal.

    July 20, 2014

  • Monitors try to secure Ukraine plane crash site

    International monitors moved gingerly Saturday through fields reeking of the decomposing corpses that fell from a Malaysian airliner shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine, trying to secure the sprawling site in hopes that a credible investigation can be conducted.
    But before inspectors ever reach the scene, doubts arose about whether evidence was being compromised.

    July 20, 2014

  • Without radar, missile may not have identified jet

    If Ukrainian rebels shot down the Malaysian jetliner, killing 298 people, it may have been because they didn’t have the right systems in place to distinguish between military and civilian aircraft, experts said Saturday.
    American officials said Friday that they believe the Boeing 777 was brought down by an SA-11 missile fired from an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

    July 20, 2014

  • For Obama, foreign crises grow more challenging

    Surveying a dizzying array of international crises, President Barack Obama stated the obvious: “We live in a complex world and at a challenging time.”
    And then suddenly, only a day later, the world had grown much more troubling, the challenges even more confounding.

    July 20, 2014

  • U.S.: Can’t rule out Russian role in plane downing

    U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday that the United States cannot rule out that Russia helped in the launch of the surface-to-air missile that shot down a Malaysia Airlines jet over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

    July 19, 2014

  • Clinton papers: Of Iraq, bin Laden and Supreme Court

    President Bill Clinton’s advisers carefully considered how to explain the president’s military action against Iraq in 1998 as the House was debating his impeachment, according to records from the Clinton White House that were released Friday. The documents also touch upon Osama bin Laden, consideration of military action in Haiti in 1994 and preparationsfor Supreme Court nomination hearings.

    July 19, 2014

  • Panel supports early release for 46K drug felons

    Tens of thousands of federal inmates serving time for drug crimes may be eligible for early release under a cost-cutting proposal adopted Friday that would dramatically reduce the nation’s prison population over time.

    July 19, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads