By a vote of 228 to 191, the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a $3.5 trillion budget plan proposed by Representative Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. All Democrats and 10 Republicans voted against the proposal. The plan would set agency budgets for the fiscal year that begins October 1 at $1.028 trillion – $19 billion less than that agreed to in the difficult deal to lift the nation's debt ceiling over the summer. The plan would curb deficits through deep cuts in domestic programs, while lowering tax rates for individuals and businesses.
Republicans said the budget represented an honest attempt to tackle the nation's growing trouble with debt. But Democrats said it would cut deficits by hitting programs relied on by the poor and vulnerable, like Medicaid, food stamps, education and other programs. Republicans in the House will now work to design appropriation bills containing line-by-line budgets for federal programs.
Then there is the question of revenue. The Ryan plan would reduce the six individual tax brackets to two, taxed at 10 and 25%. To cut the top rate to that level, from 35%, he suggested closing loopholes and ending subsidies. Republicans insist wealthy taxpayers benefit disproportionately from loopholes and they are committed to a progressive code with lower rates.
The budget cuts $179.4 billion from Agriculture Committee programs over ten years. Additionally, the budget includes reconciliation instructions which require the Committee to provide legislation cutting agriculture spending by $33.2 billion by April 27. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., says this budget lowers the odds of passing a farm bill this year.
"Going through the reconciliation process, before we can actually get to writing a farm bill, will only muddy the waters and is a waste of time. The only reason we’re doing this is so the Republican Majority could pass their budget which we all know is going nowhere in the Senate," Peterson said. "I have a hard time seeing how the House can pass a farm bill after going through this process. I also don’t see how we could extend the current bill without making some of the cuts called for by the Majority."