AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Ailsa mentioned the House budget, and today, it was presented by a cohort of House Republicans led by Budget Committee Chairman and former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. The budget gives an indication of just how hard reaching a grand bargain will be. There's not a lot of overlap with the president's priorities, and it's almost an exact repeat of Ryan's budget from last year, right down to the title, "The Path to Prosperity." NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith tells us more.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Last year's budget didn't balance until 2040. This one runs a surplus within a decade. How is that possible? $600 billion in tax increases. No, Paul Ryan and his House GOP colleagues haven't done a 180. They're just banking the new revenue from the fiscal cliff deal, which allowed tax rates to rise on the wealthiest Americans.
Ryan says he doesn't like those new taxes but...
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: We're not going to refight the past because we know that that's behind us. So what we're showing here is that with the fiscal cliff and all the other things that have occurred in the past - which spending is going down in this baseline as well - that clearly makes it easier to balance the budget.
KEITH: Another item from the past is Obamacare. This budget calls for the repeal of the president's healthcare law, though interestingly uses a trillion dollars in new tax dollars it generates to help reach balance. This budget contains many of the same policy prescriptions that were in last year's Republican budget, many of the same policies that Ryan and his running mate Mitt Romney campaigned on in the 2012 presidential race.
It reshapes Medicare into a premium support program, turns Medicaid and food stamps over to the states and charts a path for tax reform, eliminating loopholes and deductions while dramatically reducing rates. Some critics say it's almost as if Paul Ryan is operating as if there wasn't an election last November. Ryan disagrees.
RYAN: The election didn't go our way. Believe me, I know what that feels like.
RYAN: That means we surrender our principles? That means we stop believing in what we believe in?
KEITH: His answer to those questions, of course, is no. There's no way this budget becomes a reality - not with a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president. But as Ryan made clear in his press conference, that isn't the point of this budget or any congressional budget for that matter.
RYAN: This is our offer. This is our vision. And what you do is you actually show the country what you believe in.
REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: This doesn't budge an inch. This is a totally uncompromising approach.
KEITH: That second voice you hear is Chris Van Hollen, a congressman from Maryland and the top Democrat on the Budget Committee. As you might guess, he doesn't agree with the House GOP vision. Not a bit.
HOLLEN: What they do is in 10 years, they balance the budget on the backs of our kids, on the backs of the middle-class, and on the backs of seniors.
KEITH: The stark difference between the two party's visions will be even clearer when Senate Democrats release their budget plan tomorrow. It doesn't balance in a decade or anywhere close. Instead, Democrats talk about a balanced approach. Sources with knowledge of the Senate budget say it will include an equal mix with $975 billion in new revenue, through closing tax loopholes, and $975 billion in spending cuts. So Democrats aren't really budging either. Tamara Keith, NPR News, the Capitol.
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