WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTAQ) - House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Janesville unveiled the GOP’s alternative today to President Obama’s 2013 federal budget. And one of the main items is the overhaul of Medicare that Ryan and Oregon Senate Democrat Ron Wyden offered a few months ago. Ryan says the GOP budget would quickly reduce the deficit to a manageable size in short order. But critics say it would cut Pell Grants, food stamps, Medicaid, and other programs that Obama vows to protect. Ryan says Obama’s ignoring the budget problem – and it hurts the poor-and-elderly the most. But White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer says the Republican budget quote, “fails the test of balance, fairness, and shared responsibility.” He said it would give tax cuts to the rich and protect tax breaks for hedge fund managers and oil companies. Obama’s budget includes tax hikes for the wealthy, and leaves Medicare alone. House Speaker John Boehner predicts quick passage of Ryan’s budget in his chamber, where Republicans control the votes. But another road-block is possible in the Democratic Senate. And it could set up an election-year battle similar to the one a year ago without a new budget getting passed. Under the GOP’s Medicare package, only those over 55 would keep getting the traditional Medicare “fee for service” coverage – and those under 55 would get government premium vouchers they could use to buy private insurance. Democrats say the idea cuts Medicaid funding too much – and it would result in fewer care options and higher costs for seniors. But Ryan and other Republicans say the plan would spur competition, cut prices, and create more options for care. Ryan says the changes are needed to “save Medicare and keep it from going bankrupt.”
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