As expected, Democrats voiced strong objections Tuesday to the House GOP budget proposal, saying it violates the agreement established during last summer’s debt negotiations, destroys the current Medicare system and would be harmful to women.
The spending plan unveiled Tuesday by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) proposes $1.028 trillion in total agency spending — $19 billion less than the cap set during last summer’s showdown over the debt ceiling.
Ryan’s plan “is bad news in every single direction,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday, adding that the proposal’s plan to cut discretionary spending below caps set last summer “amounts to a breach of faith that will make it more difficult to negotiate” with Republicans in the future.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who led Democrats last summer on the bipartisan congressional “supercommittee,” called Ryan’s move “outrageous and deeply disappointing.”
“House Republicans are reneging on a deal their own speaker shook on less than eight months ago,” she said. “They have shown that a deal with them isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on and they are threatening families across America yet again with the prospect of a government shutdown.”
But House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) disputed suggestions that the spending plan violated the summer agreement.
“People have limits on credit cards. That doesn’t mean that you’re required to spend up to the limit, it just says you can’t spend anymore than that,"Boehner told reporters early Tuesday. “And the agreement that we came to with the president and our Democrat colleagues in the Senate last year on the Budget Control Act says that we will spend no more than $1.047 trillion on discretionary spending this year. It’s a limit. It means it’s a cap.”
While Murray voiced her frustration on the Senate floor, Maloney joined several House Democratic female colleagues at press conference to mark the two-year anniversary of the health-care reform law, which is Friday.
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) told reporters that Ryan’s plans to repeal elements of the health law “is a political thing on the part of the Republicans, but it has real consequences for real people, whether you’re a senior, whether you’re a child, whether you’re a woman, whether you’re a small business, where small businesses can get tax credits toward providing health care. There are consequences.”
The lawmakers also blasted Ryan’s plans regarding Medicare, which proposes to cap spending on future retirees, offering them a set amount with which to purchase private health insurance on newly created federal insurance exchanges.
Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), who worked for two decades as a nurse, said the plan would adversely affect women. “More women live longer and are more dependent on this benefit and they are very much interested in how we protect Medicare.”
Reviving a line of argument successfully used for political gain by Democrats in recent weeks, the lawmakers said Ryan’s plan is just the latest in a series of measures designed to strip women’s rights.
“The Republican majority that has now won the House are again and again proposing extreme and divisive legislation targeted at women’s health,” Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said.
“The level of these attacks on women’s health that we’ve seen make a lot of us wonder whether we’re in the dark ages or in fact whether we’re in the 21st Century,” she added.
Anticipating the Democratic line of attack, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) — the highest-ranking House Republican — said Democratic focus on the so-called “War on Women” is an attempt to distract and scare voters.
“Democrats are off-base. And the polls back us up,” Rodgers said Tuesday morning, citing recent surveys that find most women support the GOP’s push to protect the “conscience clause” and that President Obama’s support among women voters is dropping.
“As Americans look a little deeper into these issues, what they see is not that Republicans are trying to undermine women’s health,” she said. “What they see is that Democrats are trying to scare American women. And it’s a scare tactic that isn’t going to work.”
Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost
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