Friday, April 20, 2018

Paul Ryan's 'Path to Prosperity' plan would reshape spending, taxation policies

MILWAUKEE — As House Budget Committee chairman, Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has won GOP approval in the chamber for his "Path to Prosperity," a fiscal blueprint that would reshape federal spending and taxing policies in an effort to reduce U.S. debt.

The measure, which the House passed earlier this year on a 228-191 vote, called for major changes to Medicare, deep cuts in low-income programs such as food stamps and Medicaid, repeal of the new health care law and lower tax rates for individuals and corporations. The measure did not pass the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The proposals have been highly controversial and have come under harsh attack from Democrats — and are expected to be a key angle of attack now that Ryan will be on the GOP ticket.

Here is a look at some of the key provisions of Ryan's plan:

Military spending: Ryan proposed protecting military spending from the sharp automatic cuts the two parties agreed to in the debt ceiling showdown.

Taxes: The plan detailed no comprehensive tax overhaul, but it did lay out broad tax changes. Ryan would keep total tax revenue at the same percentage of the overall economy as it represents today.

Ryan also called for a shift to fewer and lower tax rates coupled with an end to unspecified tax deductions and loopholes. The corporate tax rate would be cut from 35 percent to 25 percent. There would be two individual tax rates of 10 percent and 25 percent.

Medicare: Ryan proposed leaving the current structure of Medicare in place for people now 55 and older, while substituting a different program for younger Americans. Instead of a government-run program that pays directly for the medical services that Medicare recipients get, the Ryan plan would give people a subsidy they would use to pay their health insurance premiums.

Balanced budget: The long-term reductions in Medicare spending help get the Ryan plan on paper to a balanced budget around the year 2040.

Cutbacks: Much of the 10-year savings in the budget plan are derived from repealing federal health care reforms, which Republicans have termed "Obamacare." Major cuts are also proposed to:

• Medicaid; about $700 billion in long-term cuts are proposed, the Los Angeles Times reported.

• Food stamps, which would be transformed into block grants to states and would come with new work rules and time limits.

• Financial aid for colleges.

• Having federal employees pay more into their pensions.

• Federal workforce, by reduction through attrition; also, a pay freeze through 2015.

• Elimination of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

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