Rep. Van Hollen hammers home Democrats' 'balanced approach' to the budget

"Because we take a balanced approach, we don't have to balance the budget on the backs of seniors. We don't end the Medicare guarantee and we don't slash important investments," Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said Wednesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." 

Republicans on Tuesday rallied around an election-year fiscal 2013 budget from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that they said would cut $5.3 trillion in spending over the next decade.

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Van Hollen predicted Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner, would embrace Ryan's plan because it cuts taxes on the rich. 

"This budget they're putting forward today is a budget Mitt Romney will love. It locks in the special preferential rates for capital gains and then gives additional tax breaks for the very wealthy," he said.

Van Hollen, who said the Democrats will release their budget plan next week, told MSNBC that his plan takes a similar approach to bipartisan commission recommendations, such as Simpson-Bowles, and will include a combination of spending cuts and increased revenue.

"The question is not whether we should reduce the deficit, but how. Democrats want to take a balanced approach. We are focused on putting Americans back to work in the short term while also working to put in place right now a long-term plan to get our fiscal house in order," Van Hollen said in a statement Tuesday.

The Maryland congressman also suggested that the House Democrats' proposal will go further in terms of deficit reduction than President Obama's budget plan, which was sent to Congress last month.

"Ours will be slightly better in terms of deficit reduction than the president's — not a lot, but slightly," Van Hollen said.

He told MSNBC that the increased revenue will come in part from closing tax loopholes and "asking folks at the very high end of the income ladder to share in the responsibility of reducing the deficit."

When pressed on the specifics for the spending side of his plan, Van Hollen said it would include additional cuts to mandatory spending, such as reductions in agriculture subsidies.

He admitted that when it comes to reforming Social Security, the budget is "similar" to the current Republican plan.

"We believe that issue has to be dealt with on a bipartisan basis, so our current budget preserves Social Security intact," he said.

Van Hollen said in terms of Medicare and Medicaid, the Democrats have attempted to reform payment incentives and reduce overall medical costs, building off of the Affordable Care Act, Obama's signature and controversial healthcare legislation.