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House Republicans propose $4 trillion in cuts over decade

By Carl Hulse

New York Times News Service

Published: Sunday, April 3 2011 6:10 p.m. MDT

He also sought to clarify that any changes in Medicare, which would include requiring more affluent Americans to pay a larger share of their own Medicare costs, would not amount to a so-called voucher program — an approach that has been heavily criticized by Democrats in the past.

In the interview on the Fox program, Ryan said his plan was more equivalent to Medicare's prescription drug program and would allow Medicare patients to pick from a menu of insurance plans. The federal government would direct the subsidy to the plan, not the consumer.

"It doesn't go to the person, into the marketplace," Ryan said. "It goes to the plan. More for the poor, more for people who get sick, and we don't give as much money to people who are wealthy."

Americans who are now 55 or older would go into the current program to prevent a sudden change in their health insurance coverage, he said.

Democrats quickly took aim at Ryan's proposals, saying Republicans were trying to shrink the deficit at the expense of people who need government aid rather than wealthy business interests allied with Republicans.

"Paul Ryan made clear that the Republican budget will protect big oil companies' subsidies over seniors' health care," said Jesse Ferguson, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "It's already becoming clear who will be the priority in the House Republican budget — special interests, not middle class families."

The Ryan budget is not binding but serves as a manifesto and a set of instructions for the other committees in the House to follow in assembling legislation to implement the new policies. It would have to be reconciled with a budget in the Democratic-controlled Senate, where a bipartisan group of lawmakers had been quietly working on its own plans for long-term reductions in the federal deficit and debt.

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