By: Paul M. Krawzak
House conservatives are pushing an alternative Republican fiscal 2012 budget that would call for much deeper savings than a blueprint backed by GOP leadership.
Authored by the Republican Study Committee (RSC), the plan would go further than the budget introduced by House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., both in cutting spending and overhauling entitlement programs.
While the Ryan budget leaves Social Security largely untouched, the RSC plan proposes to strengthen the program's long-term finances through a gradual increase in the retirement age. The RSC plan also aims to raise the eligibility age for Medicare, the health care program for seniors and the disabled.
It would raise the eligibility age for Medicare to 67 from 65, and would raise the eligibility age for full Social Security retirement benefits to 70. Currently, the Social Security retirement age is being phased up to 67 for those who were born after 1960.
The Ryan plan also would scale back fiscal 2012 discretionary spending more than $100 billion below President Obama's request, while the RSC plan would cut much deeper, slicing almost $200 billion from Obama's proposal.
The House Budget Committee approved Ryan's proposal on a 22-16 party-line vote Wednesday night.
Sending a Message
Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the RSC, said that because the RSC alternative calls for deeper spending cuts than the regular GOP budget resolution, it will aid House Republicans in pressing for the lowest possible level of spending in 2012.
"We like to think the fact that we get to balance helps further send a message," Jordan, R-Ohio, said.
Because it proposes deeper spending cuts, the RSC plan would wipe out the deficit in 10 years.
"We think it strengthens our argument," Jordan added.
Scott Garrett, R-N.J., who led preparation of the RSC's alternative, called the plan a serious effort to address the nation's fiscal problems.
"Gimmicks and tricks won't cure our spending addiction -- we need honest solutions for the challenges ahead," he said.