The Washington Post reports:
The House on Friday passed a Republican budget plan for 2012 aimed at privatizing Medicare and dramatically scaling back the size of the federal government.
Voting along party lines, the House approved the $3.5 trillion GOP blueprint 235 to 193 after final debate was repeatedly interrupted by protesters chanting and singing in the gallery.
The vote came a day after Congress passed a contentious budget deal for fiscal 2011 that ended the possibility of a government shutdown before Sept. 30, when the current fiscal year ends.
The debate on various 2012 budget blueprints unfolded as Republicans were smarting from President Obama’s attacks on their cost-cutting goals and Democrats were growing more frustrated with the GOP’s growing power and deficit-reduction zeal.
The GOP plan that passed the House on Friday was crafted by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Republicans have dubbed it “The Path to Prosperity.” Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have belittled it as the “Road to Ruin.”
In debate before the vote, Democrats argued that the GOP proposal would drastically affect the entitlement programs valued by voters, especially seniors, and would deny funding for crucial infrastructure investments.
“This Republican plan ends Medicare as we know it and dramatically reduces benefits for seniors,” Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House minority leader, said in a floor speech. She said it would force the average senior citizen to pay twice as much for half the benefits while giving “tens of billions of dollars” in tax breaks to big oil companies.
The GOP plan “reduces Medicaid to our seniors and nursing homes . . . while it gives tax breaks to companies that send jobs overseas,” Pelosi said. “That’s just not fair.”
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) defended the Ryan budget plan, saying it “shows families and small business that we are serious about dealing with America’s spending illness.” He said Americans “understand that we can’t continue to spend money that we don’t have” at a time when the national debt tops $14 trillion.
Boehner blasted President Obama for a speech earlier this week that the speaker described as advocating “more taxing, more spending and more borrowing.” He also criticized Obama for asking Congress to raise the debt limit while rejecting any linkage to Republican policy prescriptions in return.
“The president wants a clean bill, and the American people will not tolerate it,” Boehner declared. “There will be no debt limit increase unless it is accompanied by serious reforms.”
Obama rejected the Ryan plan in his speech on the country’s debt earlier this week. “We will all need to make sacrifices, but we do not have to sacrifice the America we believe in,” he said in a speech at George Washington University. “And, as long as I’m president, we won’t.”