House Passes GOP Budget Plan With Deep Cuts To Medicaid, Obamacare Subsidies

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  • WASHINGTON — The Republican-controlled House passed a Tea Party-flavored budget plan Thursday that promises sharp cuts in safety-net programs for the poor and a clampdown on domestic agencies, in sharp contrast to less austere plans favored by President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies.

    The measure, similar to previous plans offered by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (pictured right), R-Wis., demonstrates that it’s possible, at least mathematically, to balance the budget within a decade without raising taxes.

    But its deep cuts to programs for the poor like Medicaid and food stamps and its promise to abolish so-called “Obamacare” are nonstarters with the president, who won re-election while campaigning against Ryan’s prior budgets. It passed on a mostly party-line 221-207 vote.

    The House measure advanced as the Democratic Senate debated its first budget since the 2009 plan that helped Obama pass his health care law.

    The dueling House and Senate budget plans are anchored on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum in Washington, appealing to core partisans in the warring parties that are gridlocked over persistent budget deficits. Obama is exploring the chances of forging a middle path that blends new taxes and modest curbs to government benefit programs.

    “The President has an opportunity during this critical debate to come forward and to help make this part of his legacy, like it has become part of the Clinton legacy: working together on behalf of the American people to solve what we know is a crisis in our country,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. He was referring to President Bill Clinton‘s success in working with a GOP Congress to generate budget surpluses over 1998-2001. “We can’t continue to spend money that we don’t have,” Boehner said.

    The sharp contrast over the 2014 budget and beyond came as the House cleared away last year’s unfinished budget business – a sweeping, government-wide funding bill to keep Cabinet agencies running through the 2013 budget year, which ends Sept. 30.

    The House passed the bipartisan 2013 measure by a sweeping 318-109 vote. The Senate had approved the measure on Wednesday after easing cuts that threatened intermittent closures of meat packing plants starting this summer and reviving college tuition grants for active-duty members of the military. The cuts were mandated by automatic spending cuts that took effect at the beginning of the month.

    Looking to the future, Democrats and Republicans staked out divergent positions over what to do about spiraling federal health care costs and whether to raise taxes to rein in still-steep government deficits.

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