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Ryan budget plan passes House; only 4 GOP reps vote no

The House has passed a FY2012 budget plan that would cut trillions in spending over the next decade and fundamentally transform the current Medicare system.

The vote in favor of the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., could prove politically perilous for some Republicans, who are likely to be painted by political opponents as insensitive to older voters who favor the current Medicare system.

But ultimately, only four Republicans voted against the measure, which includes a proposal to gradually transition the current Medicare system into a government-funded voucher program for seniors to purchase private health insurance.

All Democrats opposed the Republican budget.

Republicans voting against the Ryan plan were Reps. Ron Paul of Texas, Walter Jones of North Carolina, David McKinley of West Virginia, and Denny Rehberg of Montana.

In a February 2011 NBC/WSJ poll, half of respondents said that replacing Medicare with a voucher system was an “unacceptable” method to address the nation’s deficit, while 44 percent called the idea "acceptable."

Rep. Steve Israel, the campaign chairman charged with leading the committee to elect more House Democrats in 2012 , said this afternoon that his party will use the vote in campaign ads against vulnerable Republicans who support the Ryan plan. “We're going to hold every single Republican accountable for choosing to protect the special interest and turning their back on America's senior citizens by terminating their Medicare benefit,” he told ABC.

Earlier Friday, Democrats used a surprise strategy to force a close vote on a budget proposed by the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of conservatives in the house. Shouting and finger-pointing erupted on the House floor as Democrats voted “present” rather than ‘nay’ on that budget proposal in the effort to embarrass the GOP into approving a plan other than Ryan’s.  The RSC budget narrowly failed.

The Ryan plan is not expected to pass the Senate.