Ryan’s Budget Plan Splits GOP on Medicare

Ryan’s Budget Plan Splits GOP on Medicare

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House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., is crafting a budget resolution that could include Medicare cuts targeting people as old as 58 in order to reach the GOP’s goal of balancing the budget by 2023.

This is a big risk since older Americans are a critical Republican base.

Moderate Republicans fear the budget plan will violate the GOP’s pledge not to change Medicare for today’s seniors, which they continuously touted during the presidential campaign.

“A lot of people had made commitments at 55. In other words, in the campaign [Republican vulnerable members] said it wouldn’t affect your Medicare for retirees or near retirees for those 55 and up ... and [if] this budget forces them to renege on that, that would be problematic for many,” a GOP lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Hill.

In addition to locking in the $1.2 trillion in sequestration cuts over the next decade, the Ryan 2014 budget would reduce growth in Medicare and Medicaid, as well as target other safety net programs like food stamps and school lunches. He plans to present his budget framework next week and put it to a vote before the House adjourns for Easter break.   -   Read more at The Hill

RATING AGENCY SAYS SEQUESTER NOT GOOD ENOUGH    Credit Rating agencies say the U.S. government must do more to reduce the deficit if it wants to avoid losing its top-notch “AAA” rating. David Riley, Fitch Rating’s global managing director for sovereign ratings, told CNBC Europe that though the $85 billion in spending reductions is a start, Congress will need to reform Medicare and Medicaid, the major drivers of the deficit.  -   Read more at The Hill

DEMS PROPOSE CONGRESSIONAL PAY CUT    Senators Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Bill Nelson, D-Fl., introduced legislation that would cut congressional salaries once furloughs begin across government agencies. Members of Congress would see their paychecks reduced by the largest percentage decrease furloughed employees face, which could be up to 20 percent. (based on the number of days they are forced to take unpaid leave.)  However, the legislation may be illegal based on the 27th Amendment. In order to comply with the Constitution, the legislation might need to  take effect in the next Congress.    -  Read more at GovExec

MARYLAND GOV PROPOSES NEW GAS TAX    Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley is proposing a new 4 percent sales tax on gas estimated to bring in as much as $3.4 billion over the next five years for transportation and infrastructure projects. The federal government has been flummoxed by this problem on its own gasoline tax, which isn’t pegged to inflation and so the funds for needed highway maintenance have been drying up.

The Maryland state legislature has refused to raise taxes on gas since 1993, but O’Malley’s measure is gaining traction in the General Assembly. The measure mirrors a bill passed by the Virginia legislature last month that brings in $3.5 billion in revenue for transportation projects over five years.  -  Read more at The Washington Post

Brianna Ehley is the former Washington Correspondent for The Fiscal Times. She is currently a reporter on Politico's health care team in Washington, D.C.