Paul Ryan unleashes austere budget plan

The plan would slow spending by slashing Medicare and Medicaid, and repealing Obamacare

By Jillian Rayfield

Published March 12, 2013 12:57PM (EDT)

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee, released the framework for House Republicans' budget plan in an Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, outlining how he would slow spending, repeal Obamacare and make cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

From the Op-Ed:

Under our proposal, the government spends no more than it collects in revenue—or 19.1% of gross domestic product each year. As a result, we'll spend $4.6 trillion less over the next decade.

Our opponents will shout austerity, but let's put this in perspective. On the current path, we'll spend $46 trillion over the next 10 years. Under our proposal, we'll spend $41 trillion. On the current path, spending will increase by 5% each year. Under our proposal, it will increase by 3.4%. Because the U.S. economy will grow faster than spending, the budget will balance by 2023, and debt held by the public will drop to just over half the size of the economy.

The budget plan would also repeal the Affordable Care Act and recycle a failed attempt by Republicans to overhaul Medicaid and Medicare. The Wall Street Journal outlines the cuts:

He will propose letting seniors buy private insurance or remain in Medicare, with premiums subsidized by the federal government, and turning Medicaid into a block-grant program. The moves would save hundreds of billions of dollars over 10 years, while potentially raising costs for Medicare beneficiaries and sharply cutting the number of Medicaid recipients. His budget would also repeal the White House's 2010 health-care law.

All three planks have been offered before and have won widespread Republican backing. The measures have never advanced in the Senate amid opposition from Democrats.

As Sahil Kapur from TPM writes, the Medicare cuts were a big issue in the 2012 campaign, and Ryan himself has flip-flopped on them several times, "decrying them when 'Obamacare' passed, then including them in his House-passed budget plans in 2011 and 2012, then campaigning against them in the 2012 election, and now backing them again in his new budget plan set to be released later today. The short version is that when he’s campaigning, Ryan opposes the Medicare cuts, but when faced with budgeting, he can’t quit them."

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Austerity Measures Barack Obama Budget Showdown House Republicans Paul Ryan