Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 14, 2013

Senate Dems unveil budget plan


---- — WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats unveiled a largely stand-pat budget Wednesday that calls for $1 trillion in new tax revenues over the coming decade but actually increases spending, while protecting the party’s domestic policy priorities and adding $4 trillion more to the national debt than a slashing alternative from House Republicans.

The plan by Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., blends about $1 trillion in modest cuts to health care providers, the Pentagon, domestic agencies and interest payments on the debt with an equal amount in new revenue claimed by closing tax breaks.

But because Democrats want to restore $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts over the same period — cuts imposed by Washington’s failure to strike a broader budget pact — Murray’s blueprint increases spending slightly when compared with current policies.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, House Budget Committee Republicans barreled ahead with an entirely opposite approach that whacks spending by $4.6 trillion over the coming decade, promises sweeping cuts to Medicaid and domestic agencies.

Over 10 years, Republicans propose cuts to non-defense agency budgets $895 billion below those envisioned less than two years ago.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., responsible for implementing those cuts, is declining comment. The proposed spending cuts, if not changed, are likely to hamstring efforts later this year to advance the annual spending bills for domestic agencies.

Murray’s budget, meanwhile, not only preserves the spending “caps” set in the hard-fought 2011 deal but proposes $100 billion in stimulus spending for road and bridge construction, repairing schools, and worker training.

Ryan revives his controversial plan that, starting in 2024 for workers born in 1959 or after, would replace traditional Medicare with a voucher-like government subsidy for people to buy health insurance on the open market. Murray proposes modest cuts to Medicare providers.

Ryan proposes slashing the Medicaid health care program for the poor and disabled by more than $700 billion over 10 years, while Murray would trim it by a negligible $10 billion. Ryan promises to eliminate $1.8 trillion in subsidies in the president’s health care law; Murray doesn’t touch them.

“There are no sacred cows,” Murray said. “We put everything we can on the table, but we do it in a responsible way that preserves, protects and strengthens the programs like Medicare and Medicaid that the American people strongly support.”

------

Associated Press writer Charles Babington contributed to this report.