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Van Hollen knocks Ryan budget as ‘extremist’

“I understand that Paul’s position is sort of their extremist position,” Van Hollen said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “Hopefully by the end of the day we will be able to bridge these differences, but it’s going to take more than finding common ground, it’s going to require compromise.”

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On Tuesday, House Republicans and Senate Democrats unveiled clashing budgets which highlighted the how far apart the parties are on fiscal issues. Ryan’s plan would cut spending by $5.7 trillion and reduce the top tax rate to 25 percent, while the Democratic budget would raise taxes by $1 trillion and enact new stimulus spending.

Van Hollen argued that the Democratic plan used the bipartisan framework of the Simpson-Bowles commission as a launching pad, while the Republican starting point for budget negotiations was far to the right of anything the two sides could hope to agree on.

“The difference between the House Republican – the Ryan plan – and the plan that Democrats are putting forward is that our plan begins where the bipartisan commissions are in terms of the ratio of cuts to revenue going in,” Van Hollen said. “And that’s why we say we have a balanced approach to this as opposed to an uncompromising approach.”

The senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee also accused Ryan of using gimmicks in his budget, saying it was disingenuous to assume the repeal of President Obama’s 2010 healthcare reform while leaving the savings benefits of the law in place.

“The Ryan budget does not eliminate ObamaCare entirely,” Van Hollen said. “They eliminate the benefits of ObamaCare but in order for them to hit balance by 2023 in 10 years, they actually keep all the taxes in ObamaCare and they keep all the savings we made in Medicare — the $215 billion — that they ran against. ... They kept the stuff that helped reduce the deficit [and] got rid of the benefits that will help provide access to health insurance.”

Still, Van Hollen said there was a window of opportunity for the two sides to reach an accord on the fiscal issues that dominated Obama’s first term and have spilled into his second.

“We have a window here between now and September or August,” Van Hollen said. “The interesting thing is that as we’re going to be debating this budget in the House today in committee, we’re going to take a break and the House Republicans are going to go meet with the president, so we’ll see how this plays out.”