Ryan's Budget Changes Little, Reignites Medicare Debate

This morning House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan introduced his fiscal year 2014 budget alongside several of his House Republican colleagues.

The budget is mostly the same as last year's House GOP budget, with the biggest difference being that this year's version includes a higher tax revenue baseline from the fiscal cliff deal that allow Ryan to achieve a balanced budget by the end of the 10-year window. Otherwise, the key features of the plan are the same: it calls for base-broadening, rate-lower tax reform; block-grants Medicaid and other means-tested programs to the states; and, conveniently, repeals Obamacare while retaining its spending cuts and tax hikes.

Most importantly, of course, it includes the premium support/competitive bidding Medicare reform that Paul Ryan devised for last year's budget and that he and Mitt Romney made a key plank in their platform in the presidential election. This Medicare reform proposal is controversial and yet possibly the most politically plausible element of the House GOP budget. For that reason, the major effect of today's budget unveiling will be to reignite the messaging war over Ryan's Medicare ideas.

With Senate Democrats planning to release their own budget plans tomorrow for the first time in four years, however, the political jousting over Ryan's plan -- which will be a replay of similar episodes from past years regardless -- will likely be short-lived. President Obama likewise is supposed to introduce his own budget outline by the end of this month or the beginning of April, which will involve drawing attention to his own less popular plans.

If Ryan wanted to significantly build on his past budget blueprints, AEI's Jim Pethokoukis has listed a number of options he could have embraced.

Joseph Lawler is editor of RealClearPolicy. He can be reached by email or on twitter.

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