New Budget Battle

Saturday, April 16, 2011 - 8:55am

Polarized votes and healthcare threats highlight first day of bruising new budget fight.

House Republicans have approved a budget blueprint for 2012 that would deeply cut spending and target two cherished but expensive entitlement programs: Medicare and Medicaid.

Every Democrat voted no, but the Republican 2012 budget easily passed the House.

The plan put forward by Wisconsin's Rep. Paul Ryan contains $6 trillion in spending cuts over ten years.

The plan would cut Medicare and Medicaid, shifting them to the states.

House Speaker John Boehner praised the plan saying "the budget shows families that we're serious about dealing with America's spending illness".

Democrats are outraged.

They rallied outside the Capitol against medicare cuts.

"Rise to the pulpit in the churches, in the streets and take this battle forward! We will keep their hands off Medicare!" Connecticut's Rep. John Larson urged the crowd.

President Obama told Associated Press tax hikes can save Medicare.

"People like myself who have been extraordinarily fortunate, can afford to pay a little more in taxes to make sure seniors have Medicare they can rely on, to make sure we're investing in medical research," he said.

An open microphone caught the President Thursday in Chicago telling Democratic contributors that he privately warned Republicans last week not to use spending cuts as a cover to roll back what they call "Obamacare".

"You want to repeal health care? Go at it. We'll have that debate. You're not going to be able to do that by nickel-and-diming me in the budget. You think we're stupid?" he could be heard saying.

The House budget won't pass the Senate, where Democrats have control, but House Republicans are so unified only four voted "no".

That means a hard-fought budget battle is ahead.

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