Van Hollen leads Democratic budget effort
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top-ranking Democrat on budget issues in the House of Representatives, unveiled the Democratic proposal to fund the government in 2012 on Wednesday, offering the latest in a series of budget proposals lawmakers will consider as they shift attention to deficit reduction.
Though the plan has little chance of passage, it gives Democrats an opportunity to offer an alternative vision to the one proposed by GOP Rep. Paul Ryan, which is scheduled for a vote in the House on Thursday. The Montgomery County Democrat said the proposal would cut budget deficits $1.2 trillion over 10 years beyond the cuts called for in President Barack Obama’s budget.
“Like every American family, we must tighten our belts,” Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said in a statement. “But it is clear that the Republican budget amounts to a yellow-brick road for the already prosperous and a dead end for the rest of the country.”
The 2012 fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
Van Hollen’s plan freezes discretionary spending for five years, cuts security and defense spending by $308 billion over the next decade and does away with Bush-era income tax credits for high-income individuals and families – the same credits at the center of the battle in Congress late last year. The plan does not address the spiraling cost of entitlement programs such as Medicare.
The budget proposed by House Republicans, which is unlikely to pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate, would cut budget deficits by $4.4 trillion, Republicans say. That legislation has stirred controversy because of its proposed changes to Medicare and Medicaid. Under the plan, new Medicare enrollees would receive subsidies from the government that would allow them to purchase private health insurance.
Democrats rolled out their vision for next year’s budget on the same day Obama proposed lowering budget deficits by $4 trillion through cuts in Medicare spending and increased taxes.
“After Democrats and Republicans committed to fiscal discipline during the 1990s, we lost our way in the decade that followed,” Obama said during a speech at George Washington University Wednesday. “And now that our economic recovery is gaining strength, Democrats and Republicans must come together and restore the fiscal responsibility that served us so well in the 1990s.”