On March 20, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Resolution, a blueprint for spending and tax policy. The release of the “Ryan budget” is the first Congressional step in what is sure to be a lengthy, partisan battle over appropriations levels, tax policy, and deficit reduction. This plan would cut nondefense spending by $5.3 trillion over 10 years, while cutting taxes for corporations and upper income individuals. It would be very harmful for people with disabilities as mandatory programs that people with disabilities rely on (Medicaid, Medicare) would be significantly cut and/or restructured, funding for critical discretionary programs (such as housing, education, employment, & transportation) would be slashed, and the health care reform law would be repealed. Specifically:
- Medicaid would be cut by $810 billion over 10 years (a 33% cut), converted to a block grant, and all “dual eligibles” would be placed entirely in the Medicare program.
- Medicare would be converted to a “premium support program” by offering vouchers to purchase private insurance or the traditional Medicare program starting in FY 2023 for new beneficiaries. This would end the Medicare guarantee and raise health care costs for people with disabilities and seniors.
- Non-Defense Discretionary programs would be cut by $800 billion below the amount of the automatic spending cuts from the Budget Control Act (an approximate cut of 9%).
- Social Security reforms to provide solvency over the next 75 years would be considered under an expedited Congressional process, as opposed to normal deliberation.
The following day, the House Budget Committee narrowly passed a fairly clean version of the Ryan Budget and the full House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on it this week. The Senate, however, is not likely to vote on a FY 2013 Budget as the Budget Control Act already set spending caps for FY 2012 to 2021.
It is doubtful that federal funding issues, including the automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January 2013, will be resolved before the November election. If not, then Congress could reconvene in a post-election “lame duck” session to try and resolve the issues and any other outstanding matters.