Yesterday Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) unveiled a budget proposal that differs in many details than the House-passed budget sponsored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). The Toomey plan balances the budget faster, but is also leaves Medicare and Social Security largely untouched.
Toomey would knock non-defense discretionary spending back to 2006 levels for 2012. He calls for block granting Medicaid to the states and spending just $14 billion more on the program than pre-stimulus levels by 2019. The budget calls for streamlining the tax code to include just three tax brackets rather than the current six. The corporate tax rate would be reduced from 35 percent to 25 percent. The alternative minimum tax is indexed to inflation, Obamacare and its tax increases are repealed. Toomey projects that his budget would achieve balance in 2020 and run a “modest surplus” the following year.
The biggest contrast with Ryan is that it balances the budget within a ten-year window without the political risk of tackling Medicare. In fact, the budget actually spends more on Medicare than President Obama’s. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told reporters that nothing in the budget was incompatible with Ryan-style reforms, however: “This is a ten-year budget and certainly it could accommodate structural changes that save Medicare.”
Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rubio, and Ron Johnson (R-WI) were on hand for the press conference announcing the Toomey budget. Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Richard Burr (R-NC), and David Vitter (R-LA) are also co-sponsors. DeMint and Lee have also signed on to Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) budget, which addresses Medicare, eliminates departments, and balances the budget even faster. Paul told me yesterday that he still needed to look at the details of Toomey’s proposal, but noted that he had voted for the Toomey budget last year,.
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