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Republicans target food stamps, Medicaid

Health care law also spotlighted in Ryan budget

Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who is the House Budget Committee chairman, is counting on a boost of economic growth to balance the budget.

JIM LO SCALZO/EPA/File

Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who is the House Budget Committee chairman, is counting on a boost of economic growth to balance the budget.

WASHINGTON — Representative Paul Ryan laid out a tough, election-year budget Tuesday that purports to come into balance by 2024, in large part through steep cuts to Medicaid and food stamps and the full repeal of President Obama’s health care law, just as millions begin to see its benefits.

But even with those cuts, Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who is the House Budget Committee chairman, is counting on a boost of economic growth to balance the budget, a boost he said will be gained by reducing the deficit.

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Many economists believe such dramatic spending cuts — especially those affecting the poor — would have the opposite effect, slowing the economy and lowering tax receipts.

“This budget stops spending money we don’t have,” wrote Ryan, a possible presidential contender in 2016. “A balanced budget will foster a healthier economy and help create jobs. This will ensure the next generation inherits a stronger, more prosperous America.”

The budget resolution, which is set to be formally adopted by Ryan’s committee Wednesday, will serve more as a 2014 Republican campaign manifesto than a legislative agenda. Spending levels for this fiscal year and next were fixed into law in the budget plan approved in December.

Senate Democrats do not intend to draft their own budget, and if Republican leaders cannot muster the 217 votes to pass the Ryan plan, it may never come to a House vote.

Democrats will oppose it almost unanimously, and some Republicans may shy away, too — either because it does not cut spending enough or it cuts it too much.

Still, the plan — Ryan’s third comprehensive spending and tax blueprint — will set the battle lines for the midterm elections.

“Is this year’s House Republican budget, with its even more extreme budget cuts, really just a bad April Fools’ Day joke?” asked Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House Democratic whip.

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