US budget fight to kick off in Washington
Updated: 2013-03-12 17:30
WASHINGTON - Another round of budget battles will begin this week in Washington, with Republicans slated on Tuesday to put forth a plan that repeals President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare legislation.
Representative Paul Ryan, a former contender for the post of vice-president, said on Sunday that the plan would roll back the Obamacare, echoing his party's claims that the law contributes to the massive US federal debt that threatens a financial ruin for the world's largest economy.
Speaking on Fox News, Ryan said his plan would balance the budget in a decade. While the GOP would not seek to repeal the 620 billion-U.S. dollar tax hike on higher earners Obama won in January's fiscal cliff deal, Ryan said his party would not agree to any further tax increases.
While the plan is likely to pass the GOP-controlled House of Representatives, it will face a steep climb in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Still, Ryan said a compromise was possible.
David B. Kendall, a senior fellow at the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, said that at this point there was very little common ground to bridge the cavernous gap between the two parties.
"But I do think there's broad agreement about the need to reduce healthcare costs in order to reduce the long-term deficit," he said.
"It is critical to control spending on social programs, which many Republicans support, in order to preserve the capacity for public investments, which many Democrats support," Kendall said. "The disagreement over how to do that could be worked out as part of budget negotiations."
Once the House and Senate each pass a budget, the president can work to bring both sides to a broad agreement, he said.
Various parts of an agreement, like tax reform and Medicare reform, could then be enacted through a regular order because they would have the 60 votes needed in the Senate, he said.
"Of course, such a path is by no means a sure bet, but it is the best bet at this point," Kendall said.
Meanwhile, Obama has planned to visit Capitol Hill three times this week in a bid to bring both sides together to cut a deal. The meetings will come on the heels of $85 billion in spending cuts that kicked in on March 1.
Democrat Senator Tim Kaine told NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday that the Senate was working out a separate budget proposal. Expressing optimism, he said the two sides would have to find a "balanced solution" that would involve "talking about revenues, talking about expenses, talking about entitlements".