” A fierce two-day debate over a Republican budget plan portrayed as either a path to prosperity or a road to ruin ended Thursday with House passage of a blueprint that would transformMedicare, cut domestic spending to levels not seen since World War II and order up a drastic overhaul of the tax code.
The plan, which passed 228 to 191, with no Democratic votes and 10 Republican defections, will form the template around which much of the 2012 election will be fought. Democrats will try to hang its extensive changes to Medicare around the necks of vulnerable Republican candidates, along with the accusation that Republicans supported a program to punish the poor and elderly while rewarding the rich with still more tax cuts. Republicans will say theirs is the party willing to make the tough choices to tame a soaring federal debt.
“It is so rare in American politics to arrive at a moment in which the debate revolves around the fundamental nature of American democracy and the social contract, but that is exactly where we are today,” said Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee and the architect of the blueprint, adding, “Today’s budget is a vote of confidence for the American experiment.”
Democrats said they saw nothing brave in voting to decimate programs for the poor, like food stamps andMedicaid, while offering potentially huge tax cuts for the rich.
The White House press secretary, Jay Carney, said, “Today’s vote stands as another example of the Republican establishment grasping onto the same failed economic policies that stacked the deck against the middle class and created the worst financial crisis in decades.”Twitter