House Dems will offer alternative budget

Ending months of speculation, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee said this week that he'll soon propose a 2012 budget bill to counter the Republicans' spending plan.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who has been weighing whether to  offer an alternative to the GOP's 2012 budget proposal, eliminated the uncertainty Tuesday.

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"We will have a Democratic alternative budget," Van Hollen told reporters during a press conference at the Capitol.

Van Hollen didn't offer a timeline or get into the specifics of the proposal, saying only that it will feature "significant deficit reduction."

The Republican proposal, unveiled Tuesday by Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), would cut $5.8 trillion in projected federal spending over the next decade, largely by scaling back Medicare and Medicaid payments.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the proposal "will help spur job creation today, stop spending money we don’t have, and lift the crushing burden of debt that threatens our children’s future."

Democrats have a different position. Van Hollen characterized the GOP budget as a "rigid, ideological agenda" that promotes "tax breaks for the very wealthy at the expense of the rest of the country."

The Maryland Democrat warned that Medicare seniors will bear much of burden of the GOP's efforts to cut federal spending.

"They're going to shift the entire risk of rising healthcare costs to seniors," Van Hollen said. "That's what their plan does."

The Budget Committee is scheduled to begin marking up the Ryan bill Wednesday.