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Congress: Ryan budget takes center stage again

“Rep. Paul Ryan on Tuesday will seek to unify the Republican Conference with a rallying cry to balance the budget in 10 years,” The Hill writes. “The target set by Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, is more aggressive than the one Democrats rejected last year that took until nearly 2040 to balance. Ryan will take center stage for the third year in a row to roll out a party platform that calls for overhauling entitlement programs, rewriting the tax code and dramatically reducing federal spending over the next decade.” 

Ryan pens an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about his budget this morning. In it, he writes: “Our opponents will shout austerity, but let's put this in perspective. On the current path, we'll spend $46 trillion over the next 10 years. Under our proposal, we'll spend $41 trillion. On the current path, spending will increase by 5% each year. Under our proposal, it will increase by 3.4%. Because the U.S. economy will grow faster than spending, the budget will balance by 2023, and debt held by the public will drop to just over half the size of the economy. Yet the most important question isn't how we balance the budget. It's why.” 

Per NBC’s Frank Thorp, here’s what the Ryan budget does, based on his op-ed: Balances the budget in 10 years; Cuts $4.6 trillion over that time frame; Includes no new revenues; Approves Keystone XL pipeline; Opens federal lands for energy production (drilling); Repeal Obamacare and "replaces it with patient-centered reforms"; Includes a similar reform of Medicare as in previous budgets that would start a "premium support" program in 2024, for those who are now 54, and below; Includes reforms to food stamp programs and Medicaid to give "states flexibility so they can tailor" them "to their people's needs”; Tax reform: Close loopholes and consolidate tax rates into two brackets: 10% and 25%.

And here’s what’s known from Ryan’s comments elsewhere, per Thorp: Includes tax increases from fiscal cliff deal; Includes cuts from sequestration; Extends Budget Control Act spending caps for two more years (originally it was only for 10 years); Will affect federal employee pension contributions; Includes the $716 billion in Medicare "cuts" included in Obamacare. 

John Boehner says the sequester’s here to stay until President Obama moves to the House GOP position. Roll Call: “The sequester is here until President Obama accepts the need for spending cuts and reforms that help put us on a path to balance the budget. That’s it.”

Boehner showed the most willingness on immigration, but called the borders insecure. And he pivoted to mental health on guns and showed little desire to move forward with gun restrictions.

Boehner also takes this shot at Democrats on the budget process: “We’re going to produce a budget that puts us on the path to balance in 10 years. What will Senate Democrats do? Will their budget ever balance? Will the President’s budget ever balance? What kind of tax hikes will they include?”

“If President Barack Obama names Thomas E. Perez as his next secretary of Labor, Senate Republicans will have a lengthy and contentious Washington track record to examine as they decide whether, or how strongly, to object to his nomination,” Roll Call writes. “Perez, the assistant attorney general who heads the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, has served in that role since October 2009, when the Senate confirmed him on a bipartisan vote, 72-22. Since then, however, Perez has led the Obama administration’s notably aggressive prosecution of civil rights laws, frequently taking legal positions that have put him at odds with Republicans both in the states and in the halls of Congress.”