News / USA

Competing US Deficit Reduction Proposals Debated

Competing US Deficit Reduction Proposals Debated
Competing US Deficit Reduction Proposals Debated
Michael Bowman

The battle engulfing Washington over America's runaway national debt is exposing deep philosophical differences between Democrats and Republicans on the proper role of government, the sacrifices required to improve the nation's dire fiscal outlook, and on whom the burden of those sacrifices should fall. Illustrating the partisan divide are two legislative proposals, one Republican, the other Democratic, that seek to shave trillions of dollars in future U.S. indebtedness, but do so in very different ways.

Four trillion dollars over 10 years, that is the amount of deficit reduction sought in two competing budget blueprints.

Under House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s plan, passed by the Republican-controlled chamber in April, federal spending would be slashed by $6.2 trillion. The plan would also lower tax rates paid by corporations and top earners, bringing projected savings down to the $4 trillion range.

Monday, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad unveiled a Democratic alternative that seeks the same deficit reduction through an even mix of spending cuts and increased tax revenue.

First, a closer look at the Ryan budget. It proposes deep cuts in non-defense spending. For example, federal expenditures to protect the environment would be slashed from $40 billion this year to $26 billion in 2021, with no adjustment for inflation. Energy-related expenditures would go from $20 billion to $1 billion. The plan eliminates or consolidates hundreds of federal programs Chairman Ryan deems antiquated or duplicative.

The Ryan budget also seeks savings in the Medicare program that pays a portion of retirees’ health care bills by transforming it into a limited federal subsidy for private health insurance. It would also repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law.

Without the new tax cuts in the Republican plan, the deficit reduction would be far greater or, alternatively, the spending cuts needed to reach $4 trillion would be less severe. But Congressman Ryan makes no apologies for including them in his plan. “If you tax something less, you get more of it. We do not want to tax jobs more. We do not want to tax investment more. We do not want to tax small businesses and entrepreneurs more. We want them to be taxed less so that we get more of them: more jobs, more growth," he said.

Senator Conrad’s blueprint arrives at a similar bottom line by different means. The Democratic proposal, which has yet to be voted on, would end tax breaks for favored corporate sectors and boost income taxes on families earning more than $1 million a year. Taxes on large estates and investment profits would rise.

The plan leaves Medicare and other so-called entitlement programs largely untouched. Instead, it would cut nearly $900 billion in defense spending and more than $300 billion from non-defense expenditures over 10 years. The Conrad proposal assumes lower projected interest payments from a reduction in the growth of America’s national debt.

Senator Conrad says a balanced approach of spending cuts and tax increases is required to put America’s fiscal house in order. “Spending is the highest is has been as a share of GDP [gross domestic product] in 60 years. Yes, we have a spending problem. But it is not exclusively a spending problem. Because revenue as a share of GDP is the lowest it has been in 60 years," he said.

Republicans blasted the Conrad plan as a ploy to force U.S. taxpayers to foot the bill for out-of-control spending by an ever-expanding federal government. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “We are not going to further enable that model of government by shaking down the American people for more money at a time when they can least afford it.”

For their part, Democrats accuse Republicans of shielding the wealthy from sacrifice so that the burden of deficit reduction falls soley on the middle class and the poor. New York Democratic  Senator Charles Schumer said, “A budget agreement cannot be considered bold or comprehensive unless it asks millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations to contribute to deficit reduction. They do not have to do the whole thing, but they have got to do their share.”

Neither the Ryan nor the Conrad plans are likely to become law. But analysts see the proposals as useful tools in the broader budget debate. Maya McGuineas heads the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “The Paul Ryan plan is much more conservative and it focuses all on spending cuts. The Conrad plan is much more progressive and very tax-heavy. And so now you have the two bookmarks or ending points on the [political] spectrum. And hopefully now we can move more towards how you compromise between those two kinds of plans," she said.

Compromise remains elusive, as successive meetings between President Obama and congressional leaders have demonstrated.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid