By Lori Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 2, 2009
After getting blasted last week for presenting a budget plan light on details, House Republicans yesterday unveiled a more complete proposal that would cut taxes for businesses and the wealthy, freeze most government spending for five years, halt spending approved in the economic stimulus package and slash federal health programs for the poor and elderly.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the senior Republican on the House Budget Committee, said the plan would stabilize the rising national debt by requiring the nation to borrow about $6 trillion over the next 10 years, $3.3 trillion less than would be required under the budget request submitted by President Obama.
Annual deficits also would be slightly lower than under the revised budget plans that emerged last week from the House and Senate budget committees. The revised Democratic proposals would require the nation to borrow about $4 trillion over the next five years, compared with $3.1 trillion in new borrowing under the GOP alternative.
Still, the national debt would continue to climb under the GOP plan, topping out at around 75 percent of the economy, Ryan said -- an improvement over Obama's proposal but a good deal higher than the 40 percent debt the nation was running before the recession began.
The proposal comes as the House and Senate debate Obama's $3.5 trillion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins in October. Leaders in both chambers expect the Obama plan to pass easily when final votes are held by the end of the week.
While the minority party in Congress typically offers an alternative budget plan that is widely ignored, this year's proposal has drawn fresh attention thanks to the scathing GOP criticism of Obama's budget plans and the president's challenge to the GOP to offer a constructive alternative.
Republicans cast their budget plan as just that, with Ryan saying it offers "lower spending, lower deficits, lower debt and more jobs." Democrats argued that the GOP proposal relies on massive cuts to social programs, measures that even many Republicans would resist.
"It's hard to believe you can get to where they say they're going to get to without doing some things the American people would reject," said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.).