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The healthcare debate took front stage on Tuesday as House Republicans presented a budget manifesto that included cuts to everything from social programs to tax rates.
The manifesto, written by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senator Ron Wyden (R-Ore.), plans to reduce the deficit by $3.3 trillion through $5.3 trillion in spending cuts to be partially offset by $2 trillion lost to lower tax rates.
Almost half of the spending cuts come from the $2.5 trillion in proposed cuts to federal healthcare programs, which President Barack Obama has made his identifying measure and which the GOP considers wasteful.
The GOP manifesto cuts Medicaid, food stamps, and Pell Grants, among other programs. It also proposes to switch the Medicare program for those under 55 today from a traditional “fee for service” system where the government pays doctor and hospital bills to a “premium support” system where health insurance is subsidized by the government.
“If you want to save Medicare and keep it from going bankrupt, you must reform the program, and that’s what we intend to do,” Ryan said.
Proposed cuts are double those in last year’s GOP manifesto on food stamps, student loans, welfare, and farm subsidies. Under the plan, the deficit in 2013 would drop to $797 billion in fiscal year 2013, as opposed to $977 billion under Obama’s budget.
The government criticized the manifesto and said it only gave tax breaks to the rich. “The House budget once again fails the test of balance, fairness, and shared responsibility,” White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a written statement.
“What’s worse is that all of these tax breaks would be paid for by undermining Medicare and the very things we need to grow our economy and the middle class—things like education, basic research, and new sources of energy,” he said.
The Senate will not hear debate on the budget and will instead go by last year’s bipartisan budget.
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