Setting it up as a central theme for their election-year campaign efforts, House Republicans passed Rep. Paul Ryan’s deficit-cutting budget plan (Reuters) on Thursday.
The budget is sure to die in the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, but the $3.53 trillion Republican-backed spending plan will serve as a jumping-off point for GOP candidates (CSMonitor) to point to what they would do with control of the White House and one chamber of Congress. They hope to show their willingness to make tough budget decision in difficult economic times and their desire to reduce the debt, lest it prompt a Eurozone-style crisis.
The GOP presidential field supports the Ryan budget, to varying degrees. Rick Santorum said he supported the effort, but that Ryan’s plan doesn’t go far enough with cuts (TheHill). Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney praised the plan and Ryan in a press release yesterday saying it has similar elements to his own economic plan.
Even though the economy is beginning to show improvement, it remains the number one issue on voters’ minds and controlling budget deficits and U.S. debt has also resonated loudly. The fiscal 2013 budget and the 2012 campaign must both somehow deal with “the basic truth that America suffers from soaring federal deficits and debt not because we are taxed too little, but rather because the government spends too much,” writes Peter Ferrera in Forbes. “With reduced spending, deficits, debt and tax rates, the plan would help produce millions of new jobs, and the restoration of traditional American prosperity. That is why the GOP presidential candidates have already endorsed it.”
In Politico, three House Democrats argue a better budget balance can be struck with changes to the tax code, comprehensive deficit-reduction plan, and spending cuts that include defense. Democrats and President Barack Obama are likely to make the Ryan proposal a target (TheHill) of attacks over its proposed healthcare cuts and tax breaks for the wealthy.
For more on the candidates’ stances, check out CFR’s Issue Tracker on the Candidates and the Economy.
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The price of prosperity at home, at least in the Ryan plan, comes at the cost of diplomacy and international development, says Josh Rogin in Foreign Policy. After drastic cuts from now through 2015, “the State Department and USAID wouldn’t see their budget get back to current levels until after 2022 if Ryan were to have his way,” Rogin writes. “Meanwhile, the national defense part of the budget would rise from $561 billion to $603 billion over the same timeframe, according to Ryan’s plan.”
The Center for American Progress opposes the budget, saying the Ryan plan would be “a disaster for the American economy, cutting out the heart of investments that are critical to growth and competitiveness.”
Ron Haskings at Brookings calls Ryan “the most daring budget hawk of his generation” and writes that “If the Ryan budget were passed and implemented as proposed… the deficit crisis would be over.”
— Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor