The House passed the controversial budget plan introduced last week by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., in a largely party-line vote on Friday.
The 235-193 vote attracted no Democratic votes and all but four Republicans supported it. The bill is not expected to pass in the Senate, but is sure to fuel debate in that chamber.
The Ryan fiscal 2012 budget resolution would cut the top tax rate for individuals and corporations from 35 to 25 percent and consolidate the current six tax brackets. It would also repeal the health care reform law, including the taxes in the health care law. The bill also would close unspecified tax loopholes as part of a tax simplification effort. The bill does not include specific legislative language spelling out exactly which tax loopholes would be closed, however.
The bill aims to cut $6 trillion over the next decade, in part by privatizing Medicare for future Medicare recipients. The Ryan bill would set up a Medicare insurance exchange under which senior citizens would choose an insurance plan from private insurance companies, starting in 2022. They would receive voucher-like “premium supports” for buying insurance instead of the current fee-for-service model under which the government pays health care providers directly. The legislation would also restrict Medicaid funding by providing block grants to states.
“This budget keeps America exceptional, and preserves its promise for the next generation,” Ryan said on the House floor before the vote. “Colleagues: This is our defining moment. We must choose this path to prosperity.”
Democrats blasted the plan and are likely to keep it from advancing in the Senate.
“The House vote to eliminate Medicare breaks a promise we’ve made to our seniors that America’s best health care coverage will be there when they need it,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont. “Under the House bill, seniors’ costs would go up and their benefits would be cut, so Medicare dollars can instead be funneled to private insurance companies. Independent experts agree the House bill ends Medicare as we know it, and at the same time, it gives billions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. We absolutely cannot balance the budget on the backs of America’s seniors and we won’t— not on my watch.”
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