By: Andrew Strauss
Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled the newest Republican budget proposal on April 1st. This budget proposal would cut $5 trillion over the next decade. Representative Ryan, the current chairman of the House Budget Committee and possible 2016 contender, explained that the budget would slash programs like Medicaid and food stamps, but would increase defense spending. Ryan’s budget would also cut college aid funding, subsides for the National Endowments for the Arts, and subsides for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Ryan explained that government funding for these programs, “can no longer be justified.” Should Ryan’s budget be put into effect, domestic spending levels would mirror those in 2005. The United States would spend roughly 29% less in 2015 than it does now.
During the budget battles of 2011 and 2012, both parties tried to cut defense and nondefense programs while trying to spare the poorest Americans from the worst of the budget cuts. Ryan’s budget proposal is a departure from this idea. It should be noted that the Senate has no intention of drafting a budget this year, so Ryan’s proposal is more like a legislative roadmap rather than an actual budget.
It did not take long for Democrats, however, to come out in droves against this budget plan. Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee, explained that budgets are the best way to see what people’s true priorities are. He went on to explain that this budget proposal would help Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has already used the plan to attack her Republican challenger, Bill Cassidy. Landrieu used the plan to highlight the likelihood that Cassidy would slash benefits for seniors and turn Medicare into a voucher program. It is clear that this budget plan will be used by Democrats to label the positions of their Republican counterparts.
The House Republicans, however, are focused on getting the proposal passed as Republicans plan to vote on the proposal next week. This plan, however, has had its share of bumps along the way. Former Republican star, Sarah Palin, recently called the proposal a joke. She explained that this budget does not rein in government spending today. Palin explained that the proposal simply kicks the can down the road. Palin invoked the University of Wisconsin’s March Madness success when criticizing Ryan, explaining “You’d think one who is representing the mighty Badgers, who made it to the Final Four based on sacrificial work ethic and discipline that obviously pays off in the end would understand that future success depends on hard work and sacrifices.” Palin hypothesized that Ryan’s budget had to be an April Fool’s joke. Ryan fired back, explaining that while he has always respected Palin, she neglects to see that this budget cuts more spending than any other budget Ryan has ever written. Ryan suggested that Palin look at the details.
Some House Republicans are also upset with the party over a controversial parliamentary maneuver the GOP deployed recently. The GOP leadership used a voice vote to pass a controversial bill earlier this year; a bill that had opposition on both parties. Needless to say, the members who were against the bill were unhappy with the leadership’s decision, and they have threatened to vote no on the Ryan proposal as a response. Ryan’s 2014 budget only passed by seven votes, so it is critical that the House leadership get its ducks in a row before the proposal is brought to the floor. House Democrats have already explained that they will vote unanimously against the proposal. This means that the House GOP can only afford to lose 16 of its own members. All 10 who opposed Ryan’s last proposal are expected to oppose this one as well. The most conservative members of the House GOP explain that they are tying the controversial voice vote maneuver to this bill. These members, who already dislike the leadership, explained that the leadership should be punished for not taking their views into account. “We cannot function if we are going to allow decisions like that to be made from the top by leadership in consultation with Democrats,” said Representative Steve King (R-Iowa).
President Obama spoke about the proposal while at a deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The President, alluding to the deli he was in, explained that if the deli tried to see the budget they could call it the “Stinkburger” or “Meanburger.” He hypothesized that not many would buy the sandwich because it would not be very good.