By Bernie Becker - 04/12/11 03:26 PM EDT
According to Van Hollen, the House Democratic budget would bring the federal government to primary balance by 2018 — a year after the White House prediction for President Obama’s budget, released in February, and three years after the Ryan budget would reach that point. (Primary balance is essentially the point at which the government is bringing in as much as it is spending, save for interest costs.)
Van Hollen also called for raising tax rates back to Clinton-era levels for the richest taxpayers, in effect echoing Obama’s call to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for the wealthiest Americans. He said Ryan's budget calls to reduce top individual tax rates to 25 percent would basically amount to a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the most well-off.
And he suggested that the Democratic budget would be more aggressive at trying to find savings in the security side of discretionary spending.
On Social Security, Van Hollen said it should be removed from the budget conversation, instead suggesting it could be dealt with in the sort of bipartisan way that President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neill handled it in the 1980s.
“My view is that there are better ways to do it, and with respect to the whole question of Social Security, my view is that we should deal with it outside of this budget framework and the budget resolution,” the congressman said.
Van Hollen also went after the Ryan budget for proposing block grants for Medicaid and turning Medicare into a sort of voucher system. But while he added that Democrats welcomed a vigorous debate on the reforms included in the healthcare overhaul, he didn’t lay out many details of how the House Democratic budget would approach healthcare entitlements.