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Republicans also unveiled their long-term budget plan, which aims to cut spending by $5.8 trillion over the next ten years and to reform the tax code. Under the plan that Ryan outlined on Tuesday, tax rates would top out at 25 per cent for both individuals and corporations. Ryan said that many tax loop-holes would be closed as well if the plan is adopted. Democrats pounced on the proposal, invoking the specter of class-warfare.
Representative Chris Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, called the GOP plan a “rigid ideological agenda that extends tax cuts to the rich and powerful at the expense of the rest of America.” Republicans counter that simplifying the tax code and cutting government spending are essential to America’s long-term economic health. Currently, federal government spending consumes about twenty three per cent of the overall United States economy. Ryan said that the GOP blueprint would reduce that to about twenty per cent by 2015 and to fifteen per cent by 2050.
It’s hard to see how Republicans and Democrats could get together on a long-term, sweeping proposal like Ryan’s when lawmakers don’t seem able to agree on a budget that covers a single year of government operations. If the two sides can’t find some common ground by Friday, the dreaded phrase “government shut down” comes into play. That would be a double edged sword for both sides.
Hard-line fiscal conservatives won’t be much bothered by a federal government shut down, but most of the rest of the electorate wouldn’t be happy. Senator Chuck Schumer (D – NY) said that if a shut down occurs, it will be the Republican Party’s fault. “A deal with $33 billion in spending cuts is right there for the taking,” Schumer said. “But the House leadership will need to stand up to the Tea Party.”
President Obama is ostensibly taking the high road on the issue — or at least positioning himself as such. “I don’t think the American people are interested in blaming somebody” for a shutdown, he said. They rather expect solutions. The president’s message is upbeat, saying that the two sides are closer than ever to reaching a compromise. Boehner was not as positive following meetings with Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In Boehner’s view, neither Obama or Reid have learned much from the last election.
The next few days will decide the issue, perhaps for a longer term than a week or two. Whichever side blinks first is sure to endure the wrath of their supporters. Yet, if neither side blinks at all, the situation may get even worse.
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