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Politics & Policy

Obama's $1.3 Trillion Budget Gift to Paul Ryan

Ryan speaks at a press conference highlighting the effects of the national debt on America's youth

Photograph by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Ryan speaks at a press conference highlighting the effects of the national debt on America's youth

On Tuesday morning, House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin unveiled his much-anticipated new budget. Its snazzy new feature: Ryan’s plan balances within 10 years, whereas his last budget didn’t balance until 2038. How does Ryan accomplish this? Well, he still makes deep spending cuts—including to entitlement programs such as Medicare. But his real secret is that he got a huge gift from President Obama. Ryan’s new budget keeps two huge chunks of deficit reduction that Obama pushed for, but which most Republicans adamantly opposed: the $716 billion cuts to Medicare providers included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka”Obamacare”) and the $624 billion in new tax revenue from the American Taxpayer Relief Act (aka “the fiscal cliff deal”). Combined, that’s $1.34 trillion in savings, which makes balancing a budget much easier.

Ryan didn’t like either of these bills, although he did, in the end, vote for the fiscal cliff deal. During his speech at the Republican convention last year, he said:

“You see, even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health-care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn’t have enough money. They needed more. They needed hundreds of billions more. So they just took it all away from Medicare—$716 billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama. An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed, all to pay for a new entitlement we didn’t ask for. The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it.”

His budget does, in fact, eliminate Obamacare—but it keeps the $716 billion in cuts.

Green is senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek in Washington. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaGreen.

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