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U.S. House Republicans unveil budget blueprint, setting stage for fiscal battle


15:33, March 13, 2013

WASHINGTON, March 12 (Xinhua) -- U.S. House Republicans on Tuesday put forth their latest budget proposal, setting out battle lines for a fiscal fight which would stretch throughout much of the spring in Washington.

At a press conference on Tuesday morning, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan introduced the budget blueprint which would achieve 4.6 trillion dollars spending reduction over 10 years and balance the budget by 2023.

As was the case last year, the House GOP budget plan promised to repeal President Barack Obama's healthcare law and change Medicare into a voucher-like plan, in which future retirees would receive subsidies to purchase private insurance or traditional Medicare. Medicaid, meanwhile, would be converted into a block- grant program.

The plan called for tax reforms that eliminate loopholes and consolidate tax brackets into two, but rejected further tax increases.

"We cut wasteful spending. We repair the safety net so that we can help those in need. We protect and strengthen key priorities like Medicare, a program that's going bankrupt ... We foster a healthier economy so that we can create jobs and grow more wages," Ryan stated. The 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee said the outcome of the election doesn't mean they have to surrender the principles they believe in.

In an op-ed published in Tuesday's The Wall Street Journal, Ryan claimed that his budget will help economic growth. "Smaller deficits will keep interest rates low, which will help small businesses to expand and hire," he explained.

According to the plan, the U.S. budget deficit would fall sharply to 528 billion dollars next year, 125 billion dollars in 2015 and 69 billion dollars in 2016.

The latest version of the "Path to Prosperity" plan is likely to be approved by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. However, it is unlikely to become law in its entirety as it assumes a repeal of the so-called Obamacare and reduces the deficit without raising taxes, two elements which are unpalatable to the Democrats.

The new budget proposal is only the opening salvo of another round of budget battles in Washington. On Wednesday, for the first time since 2009, Senate Democrats will stake out their budget plan. Reports said the competing proposal aims at slashing deficit by 1. 85 trillion dollars over the next decade with roughly equal amounts of spending cuts and additional tax revenues. In stark contrast to the austerity touted by House Republicans, Senate Democrats envisioned a 100 billion dollars economic stimulus initiative.

Political bickering over the dueling proposals would intensify as the two parties finally reveal their priorities on the budget front. "While the House Republican budget aims to reduce the deficit, the math just doesn't add up. Deficit reduction that asks nothing from the wealthiest Americans has serious consequences for the middle class," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

In a bid to bridge partisan differences, Obama plans to go to the Capitol Hill this week and meet separately with Democrats and Republicans of both chambers. The White House confirmed Tuesday that the President's budget, which usually comes in early February, would be delayed until the week of April 8.

The U.S. Congress acted earlier this year to extend the debt limit through mid-May. It also set a deadline for the House and Senate to pass a formal budget.

Carney said while Ryan's budget represents a series of policy choices that the President profoundly disagrees with, they believe there is cause to continue the effort to try to find common ground and compromise.

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