Republican budget draws election contrast with Obama

Conservative Republicans controlling the House unveiled a budget blueprint on 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 plan, authored by congressman Paul Ryan, seeks to draw a sharp contrast between Republicans’ vision of a smaller, less-intrusive federal government with that of President Barack Obama, who stresses the importance of social safety nets and emphasizes the positive role government plays in the economy.

The Ryan plan would shrink deficits to $3.13 trillion over 10 years, which is half the size of Barak Obama’s plan. It would make deep cuts to federal employee pensions and to social programs such as food stamps and the Medicaid health care program for the poor and dismantle Obama’s 2010 healthcare reform law.

On one hand, Obama and many Democrats want to raise taxes on the wealthy and boost spending on infrastructure and education, whereas Republicans want to cut on spending, except on defense. They reckon that the Ryan budget will help portray them as better-equipped to govern responsibly and make tough fiscal choices.

Due to opposition in the Democratic-controlled Senate the Republican plan has little chance of becoming a law, but it could still have some real-world consequences. The Republicans are set for another round of damaging election-year attacks from Democrats, who have vowed to preserve the fee-for-service program, which is popular but increasingly expensive Medicare plan. The Republicans also seek to put a cap on discretionary federal spending on education, transportation and other government programs at $1.029 trillion, roughly $18 billion less than what the Democrats want. Ryan’s new proposal for medicare has received wide-spread criticism. Democrats branded it as a vicious plot to destroy the nation’s promise to their seniors. While, the White House said it was harmful to the vast majority of Americans.

The Ryan plan contains another element popular with Republicans across the board; tax reform. It proposes to cut top rates for individuals, bringing back the number of tax brackets to two – 25 percent and 10 percent – from six now.

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