White House says GOP budget would ‘shower’ rich with tax breaks

The White House is slamming the House GOP budget, with communications director Dan Pfeiffer saying the Republican plan to cut $5.3 trillion in spending over the next decade “fails the test of balance, fairness and shared responsibility,” and would “end Medicare as we know it.”

The Pfeiffer criticism on Medicare recycles a line from the fight over the 2012 budget that proved effective for Democrats. The party attributed a win in a New York special election last spring to public criticism of last year's House GOP budget.

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In a statement released just an hour after Republicans put forth their plan, Pfeiffer said the GOP proposal would “shower the wealthiest few Americans with an average tax cut of at least $150,000,” and at the same time would preserve taxpayer giveaways to oil companies and breaks for Wall Street executives. Pfeiffer said the plan goes against a proposal put forth by the president during his State of the Union address to strengthen the middle class.

“What’s worse is that all of these tax breaks would be paid for by undermining Medicare and the very things we need to grow our economy and the middle class — things like education, basic research and new sources of energy,” he said. “And instead of strengthening Medicare, the House budget would end Medicare as we know it, turning the guarantee of retirement security into a voucher that will shift higher and higher costs to seniors over time.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney also attacked the Ryan budget at his daily briefing, arguing it failed to "meet the test of balance."

The GOP budget authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) would collapse the six personal income tax brackets into a 25 percent top rate and a lower 10 percent rate, though the budget doesn’t specify the income levels at which the rates would apply.

On Medicare, Ryan would provide subsidies for future seniors to buy Medicare or private health insurance. This is a shift from Ryan’s 2012 budget, which didn’t allow seniors to use the subsidies to stay on Medicare, and is intended to make this year's budget more difficult to hammer.

Carney argued the new Ryan proposal is much like the proposal put forth last year, which Democrats also argued would have ended Medicare.

"We do not believe there's much difference at all," he said, adding that the current proposal "segments the Medicare population."

Carney said the White House is ready to have a debate on who has the better proposal, and said the president had "put forward a very clear plan" that "brings our deficits down and drives down our debt."

Carney said a plan should ensure that the burden of that effort" doesn't affect senior citizens and other people who depend on vital programs.

The White House spokesman called the proposal "a shift of money from the middle class ... to the wealthiest among us" and "a program that would 'voucherize' Medicare and end Medicare as we know it."

Pfeiffer called the Ryan budget “the same wrong-headed theory” that led to the recession that has plagued the country in recent years. He said President Obama’s “balanced” approach would reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion. Obama’s plan would also make the wealthiest Americans “pay their fair share” while making cuts to programs the White House said the country can’t afford, Pfeiffer said.

Pfeiffer said the proposal the White House put forth strengthens Medicare with reforms that would reduce overpayments to drug companies while improving the quality of care “and protecting Medicare’s commitment to American’s seniors.”

—This story was posted at 11:18 a.m. and updated at 12:11 p.m.