President Barack Obama several weeks ago laid out his budget proposal for fiscal year 2013 and his vision for the federal government over the coming decade. The president called for $4 trillion in deficit reduction accomplished though a mix of spending cuts and additional revenue. His blueprint identified savings in nearly every area of the budget, including Medicare and Medicaid.
Now it’s the House Republicans’ turn to present their vision. In 2011 the House Republican budget—the one that replaced traditional Medicare with a system of vouchers, slashed Medicaid by a quarter, and cut taxes for the wealthy while increasing the burden for the middle class—met some pretty stiff resistance from the American people. If the House Republican caucus, led by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), learned its lesson from last year, it will propose a far more reasonable plan this year and thus lay the groundwork for real negotiations that could perhaps result in actual progress.
That, or they could double-down on the unworkable and unpopular policy proposals that underpinned last year’s budget debacle.
How will we know which path they’ve chosen? There are a few areas that will tell us whether the House Republicans are truly serious about solving our budget problems or are merely ideologues unwilling to compromise: health care, taxes, adhering to the Budget Control Act of 2011, helping the economy and the middle class, and dealing responsibly with deficit reduction. Watch for the level of detail in the new House budget plan too, which will indicate just how serious they are about debating the merits of their proposals.
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