Republicans propose budget that Democrats say amounts to a broken promise

The Takeaway

The budget fight returns to Congress this week with Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, preparing to unveil a Republican budget plan that cuts 2013 federal spending.

“This coming debt crisis is the most predictable crisis we’ve ever had in this country,” said Ryan in an ad. “This is why we’re acting. This is why we’re leading. This is why we’re proposing and passing out of the house a budget to fix this problem. So we can save our country for ourselves and for our children’s future.”

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said Republicans are going back on the agreement the two parties reached last August that ended the debt limit showdown.

Todd Zwillich, Takeaway Washington correspondent, said the budget is very similar to the one Ryan introduced last year and that was not able to get passed. Zwillich said trying to introduce it again is a major political risk for Republicans, but one they think they can win.

“Essentially, we’re talking about Medicare,” Zwillich said. “The last Ryan budget last year was controversial because it essentially took the Medicare guarantee — which is a guaranteed level of benefit, you know what you’re going to get and what your premiums are — fundamentally changes it into a premium-support program or a voucher program.”

In a voucher program, the government send you a check you can spend on any private healthcare plan. If costs go up, though, your government subsidy doesn’t necessarily increase, or at least not at the same rate.

Zwillich said the new plan is fundamentally the same, though it does make changes, including allowing you to use the voucher to pay for public Medicare.

“You don’t have to go to a privatized program if you don’t want to,” he said. “But they’re also saying basically ‘We know Democrats are going to criticize us over this and we know conservatives are going to like it. “

Republicans say, though, that the proposal will show they, and not Democrats, are concerned about the overall trajectory of the country and are willing to take the necessary steps to rights its course.

“It’s definitely a risk and they know it, but they’re going with it,” Zwillich said.

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