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Ryan’s budget targets Obama accomplishments

Proposal mirrors spending plan he offered in 2012

Representative Paul D. Ryan

REUTERS/File

Representative Paul D. Ryan said the GOP is refusing to abandon its principles.

WASHINGTON — Four months after Republicans suffered a convincing defeat in the presidential election, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the party’s vice presidential nominee, unveiled a spending-and-tax plan Tuesday that relies on the same lightning-rod proposals of his 2012 campaign to balance the budget in 10 years.

The Ryan plan — called the ‘‘Pathway to Prosperity’’ as it was in last year’s campaign — would cut spending by $4.6 trillion through 2023, largely by rolling back President Obama’s legislative accomplishments while also taking advantage of the savings they created.

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While the budget would preserve Medicare cuts that Republicans denounced in the 2012 campaign, it would eliminate the subsidized insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion that make up the core of the president’s health care law. Obama’s Wall Street regulatory law would be repealed, and high-speed rail programs championed by Vice President Joe Biden would be rescinded.

And the plan would transform Medicare into a subsidized system of private insurance plans, a proposal that Obama strongly opposed and made central to his campaign for reelection.

But while Ryan once held that the 2012 election would be a referendum on such ideas, he said Tuesday that the nation’s dire fiscal straits present little alternative but to plow ahead with what he calls ‘‘an exit ramp from the current mess — and an entry ramp to a better future.’’

The budget will be formally drafted Wednesday in the House Budget Committee, of which Ryan is chairman, then brought to the House floor next week for what promises to be a contentious vote.

At a news conference Tuesday morning in the Capitol, Ryan was asked why his plan included so many elements that voters appeared to reject in November when they elected Obama over the Mitt Romney-Ryan ticket.

Staying the course

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‘‘So the question is,’’ Ryan responded, ‘‘the election didn’t go our way — believe me I, I know what that feels like — that means we surrender our principles? That means we stop believing in what we believe in?’’

He continued, ‘‘We think we owe the country a balanced budget. We think we owe the country solutions to the big problems that are plaguing our nation: a debt crisis on the horizon, a slow-growing economy, people trapped in poverty. We’re showing our answers.’’

Such dire forecasts are not universally held. Many liberal economists believe the tax increases secured in January and trillions of dollars in budget cuts over the past two years have already put the government on a sustainable path at least through this decade.

But with his budget, and a Senate Democratic budget to follow Wednesday, Republicans and Democrats are setting up a clear contrast between rapid deficit reduction that relies on spending cuts only to reach balance and a slower approach that will mix tax increases and more gradual spending cuts to aim for fiscal stability if not a balanced budget.

Democrats said the GOP budget was further proof that Republicans were out-of-touch with ordinary Americans, who already delivered their verdict on the Ryan plan.

‘‘This budget reflects the same skewed priorities the Republican Party has championed for years — the same skewed priorities Americans rejected in November,’’ Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, said “We’ve seen this show before.’’

Senate Democrats on Tuesday were already starting to circulate the outlines of their budget, a plan that repudiates many key aspects of the Republican effort, such as converting Medicare into a private insurance plan.

Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, said that the House Republican plan was ‘‘doubling down on the extreme budget that the American people already rejected.’’

In stark contrast to the austerity the Republican budget pursues, Senate Democrats will propose investing $100 billion in a new economic stimulus program that would provide job training and set aside money to repair roads and bridges. Democrats said they would pay for the plan by closing loopholes in the tax code that benefit corporations and wealthy Americans.

The Democrats’ plan would meet their goals with an equal mix of spending cuts and closing tax loopholes. Those cuts — about $975 billion worth — would include $240 billion in military spending and $493 billion on the domestic side, Democrats said.

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