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Democrats pounce on "draconian" Ryan budget plan

Updated: 1:03 p.m. ET

As Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., makes the case for his newly unveiled 2014 budget proposal, Democrats are wasting no time pouncing on the plan as a piece of "draconian" GOP "gimmickry," which they say would undermine the nation's fragile economic recovery while simultaneously "ending the Medicare guarantee" in America.

Ryan's proposal, called the "Path to Prosperity," is similar to the several controversial budget plans he has released in previous years, none of which have passed in the Democrat-controlled Senate. The key distinction in this year's plan is that it eliminates the budget deficit in 10 years rather than the 25+ years in his past plans. As in its previous iterations, Ryan's budget would transform the nation's Medicare plan into a voucher-like system for people younger than 55, an unprecedented move that Democrats deeply oppose.

"This budget reflects the same skewed priorities the Republican Party has championed for years, the same skewed priorities Americans rejected in November," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on the Senate floor this morning ahead of Ryan's official announcement. "The Ryan republican budget will call for more tax breaks for the wealthy and an end to Medicare as we know it and draconian cuts to education and other programs to help America's economy grow and prosper."

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, called Ryan's plan "totally uncompromising."


"Today the House Republicans released a totally uncompromising budget that simply represents more of the same - undermining job growth, ending the Medicare guarantee, and slashing critical investments in our future while protecting tax breaks for special interests and the very wealthy," he said in a statement. "And it's made worse by picking an arbitrary political date to come into balance at the expense of over 750,000 jobs this year alone and weakening the fragile economic recovery."

Ryan's plan isn't expected to gain much traction with Democrats, but the former vice presidential candidate suggested this morning he sees it as something of a starting point.

"Here's our offer, here's our vision," he said, striking an optimistic posture. "We hope that the Senate actually follows suit and shows their vision, because if they actually put their plan on the table then we can start talking."

Senate Democrats will outline their own budget proposal -- penned by Senate Budget Committee chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash. -- to the president today, but that plan is likely to get about as much support from across the aisle as Ryan's, which is to say, not very much.

According to the Huffington Post, Murray's plan includes $1.85 trillion worth of savings over the next ten years through a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts.


The notion that both sides could come together to bridge what will almost certainly be a significant ideological gulf between the two proposals seems remarkably optimistic. Amid recent partisan gridlock, Congress has struggled even to pass short-term continuing resolutions to keep the government open well into the fiscal year. And Democrats have shown no indication they're willing to budge on some of the longstanding sticking points with Ryan's budgets - namely, his Medicare proposals.

"You know, what's frustrating to me honestly is, Paul Ryan is releasing a budget today that assumes the repeal of Obamacare and it changes Medicare into a voucher system," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), in an interview today on MSNBC. "If we're really going to start moving towards one another, then we need to actually take those baby steps. We -- we can't keep digging in to hardened positions."

Still, both sides insist they're willing to make hard choices.

"We all have to give a little," said Wasserman Schultz.

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