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Posted at 10:14 AM ET, 03/21/2012

Santorum: Ryan budget plan ‘a great blueprint,’ but doesn’t cut enough

As Democrats castigate a budget plan by Rep. Paul Ryan (Wisc.) for its deep safety social net cuts and dramatic tax cuts, criticism is coming more quietly from another corner: budget hawks who believe the proposal would not cut deeply or quickly enough.

Presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) termed the effort “very disappointing,” in a Tuesday statement. And he’s now been joined by fellow GOP candidate Rick Santorum, who told Glenn Beck later Tuesday that he believed Ryan’s spending plan is a “great blueprint” but he believes “we need to cut government spending faster” than the $5.3 trillion Ryan has proposed slashing over the next decade.

Santorum’s own plan calls for $5 trillion in cuts over five years. And he has said he believes Ryan would not move quickly enough on Medicare reform.

Ryan’s plan raises the Medicare eligibility age to 67 and caps spending on those who turn 65 after 2023, offering them a set amount with which to purchase private health insurance on newly created federal exchanges. He would also offer seniors traditional Medicare as an option, though it could cost them more than the cheaper private plans.

Santorum has said Medicare changes must be implemented immediately and not be imposed only on future retirees.

In the radio interview with Beck, Santorum said he spoke to Ryan about the budget last week. He offered general praise of its concepts, which include deep cuts to Medicaid and other domestic programs paired with a tax overhaul that would reduce the top rates on individuals and businesses to 25 percent

“He’s put forward a great blueprint for people to campaign upon and shows clearly progress dramatic progress in the direction of shrinking the size of government, and liberating the economy through lower taxes and less regulations,” he told Beck.

But of entitlement reform, Santorum said, “we need to move forward quicker” and he called for faster spending cuts.

Santorum was the only one of the presidential candidates not to release a statement about Ryan’s budget on Tuesday. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney quickly embraced the plan in a statement and comments to reporters, as did former House speaker Newt Gingrich.

Santorum’s more muted response may be connected to tricky politics in the House. Ryan’s budget faces a key vote on the Budget Committee he chairs on Wednesday. With Democrats unified in opposition, he can afford only two Republican defections or see an embarrassing defeat for what is designed to be the GOP’s leading election year campaign statement.

One conservative freshman—Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas—has said he plans to vote against the plan.

“It’s good--but it’s not good enough or the type of bold statement I think Republicans need to make,” he said.

By  |  10:14 AM ET, 03/21/2012

 
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