Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum battle for votes in Illinois as Paul Ryan set to unveil new Republican tax and spending planA statement by communications director Dan Pfeiffer says the House economic plan "draws on the same wrong-headed theory that led to the worst recession of our lifetimes and contributed to the erosion of middle-class security over the last decade":The White House has responded to the 2013 Republican budget as outlined by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.
The House budget once again fails the test of balance, fairness, and shared responsibility. It would shower the wealthiest few Americans with an average tax cut of at least $150,000, while preserving taxpayer giveaways to oil companies and breaks for Wall Street hedge fund managers. What's worse is that all of these tax breaks would be paid for by undermining Medicare and the very things we need to grow our economy and the middle class ? things like education, basic research, and new sources of energy. And instead of strengthening Medicare, the House budget would end Medicare as we know it, turning the guarantee of retirement security into a voucher that will shift higher and higher costs to seniors over time.Ezra Klein weighs in with "the basic outline of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's 2013 budget in one sentence":
Ryan's budget funds trillions of dollars in tax cuts, defense spending and deficit reduction by cutting deeply into health-care programs and income supports for the poor.At the end of his initial release, Ryan posts a table comparing his budget to the president's budget. The single largest difference is in the tax section: Ryan raises $2 trillion less in revenue than the White House does. In the president's budget, those revenues come mostly from increasing taxes on the wealthy. So that's the first big gap between the two proposals: Under Ryan's budget, revenue would be lower, and the distribution of taxes more regressive, than under Obama's budget.On the spending side, Ryan's biggest cuts come from health-care programs. He eliminates the $1.5 trillion that the Affordable Care Act uses to purchase health insurance for 30 million Americans. Then he cuts Medicaid and related health programs by $770 billion ? which is to say, by about a third. Medicare takes $200 billion in cuts on top of that.
Full post here. Ryan is asked whether he sees the budget as the central issue in the presidential campaign."I expect the GOP nominee to offer the country the legitimate choice that they deserve. The president is ignoring this problem....We will be cutting indiscriminately like they do in Greece. We have a moral obligation to budget. So yes, I expect the nominee, whoever he is, to [address the budget.]"Hear that, Messrs. Romney and Santorum? When you speak tonight in Illinois, we'd like a few minutes on entitlement reform. Here's the budgetary needle Ryan seeks to thread: without raising taxes, his proposal claims to reduce deficits by $3.26 trillion from 2013 through 2022 relative to President Obama's budget, according to the Congressional Budget Office.The budget proposal makes up the difference with cuts to discretionary spending and new limits on Medicare spending. Suffice it to say that such entitlement cuts are politically tricky. The Republican candidates don't want to answer question about why their party is seeking to break promises to retirees.The Republican candidates, in fact, have plenty of reason to dread the Ryan budget proposal and the conversation it invites. Austerity is a great campaign theme, but detailed discussions of spending cuts are part of a conversation no candidate wants to have.Ryan takes a question about the presidential election ? how will his proposal affect the candidates?"Our nominee owes it to the country to give them a choice of two futures. We're helping them to do that." Rep. Paul Ryan is up on C-Span, in riveting footage they for some reason did not carry live. A phalanx of soberly dressed colleagues behind him, Paul is laying out goals for the new Republican budget proposal for FY 2013, which starts in October. He mentions repealing the president's health care law, preserving Medicare benefits while restraining entitlements spending, and tax reform.Ryan's new tax plan would create two new tax brackets, period. One bracket would pay 10 percent; the other would pay 25 percent. He does not stipulate what income levels would fall under which bracket.Now Paul has moved onto spending. He deploys a chart showing the GOP budget would save $5 trillion plus when compared with the president's budget over the next two decades. The chart says so. The Guardian's Gary Younge visited a Romney rally and a Santorum rally yesterday, and experienced two very different crowds. While the Romney folks seemed merely curious to see the candidate, Santorum's audience came to "get their rage on":
When it comes to national politics you get the sense that nothing much has played in Peoria for quite some time. The race doesn't usually go on this long or get this far and even when it does there isn't usually too much to play for. People showed up at the Romney event with no intention of either voting for him or heckling. It was just a chance to see a guy from the television in the flesh. He could as well have been Ray Barone or Betty White. One man said he wasn't sure whether Obama's health care legislation was a good thing or not. There was no such heresy at Rick Santorum's event later in the evening in East Peoria. Everyone who was there was there for a purpose: to get their rage on. Health care, along with the United Nations and moderates, all got booed at the very mention. Before a crowd of several hundred Santorum rallied the religious against the onward march of radical theocrats - in Iran that is.Having ridiculed Obama for using a teleprompter (a jibe I really don't understand - it's not as though Obama invented them. It's not cheating), Santorum rambled on for 20 minutes longer than he should have. Few seemed to mind. One man was episodically shout "Freedom" for no apparent reason at all. The odd thing was in the moment it didn't seem odd.My colleagues Gary Younge and Matt Seaton are in Illinois covering the candidates' final efforts to rally voters to the cause. Here's a snapshot of a Romney event last night at Bradley University in Peoria:
Mitt Romney, wearing blue jeans and white shirt, sleeves part rolled, looking tan, was introduced by a Republican Congressman as "the kind of CEO we want to hire to run the greatest country on earth" and "the best turnaround artist the country has ever seen".Where Schock was pithy and punchy, Romney was diffuse and rambling. He quickly gets into a long story where he's telling a crowd of students that you don't need a college education to be an entrepreneur. He did talk about the economic freedom of the next generation, not saddled by debt and taxes. And then a long digression about crony capitalism. "I love America." Lukewarm applause: even a patriotic bromide that cannot fail to get applause, Romney turns into a limp moment. "I'm going to restore America." Talking to some of these students beforehand, you know that there will be plenty of Ron Paul fans. So he's majoring on jobs and the economy, and no values stuff, but if he talked about constitutional freedoms, he'd have them eating out of his hand. Instead, they're just barely hanging around out of sheer good manners.Young female student: "You know what would make me happy: free birth control." [Some cheers, more boos.]Romney's answer: "If you're look for free stuff, vote for the other guy." [Cheers and applause.]That Republican 2013 budget proposal is now tantalizingly close. Come on ? who wants to wonk out on this?
Ryan;s chairman mark is out for those who really want to wonk out on this: 1.usa.gov/GACTF6? Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) March 20, 2012Oh dang. Mitt Romney + Eminem = "Will the Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up." Artfully done. Hats off to auteur Hugh Atkin. Hat tip to Molly Ball.
Do you think the USA is ready for a white first lady? Robert DeNiro wants to know.First lady Michelle Obama is out raising money for her husband's reelection campaign, an effort that found her last night in New York City at a fundraiser hosted by DeNiro at Locanda Verde, one of his restuarants.Exhorting his audience to support the president, the actor flashed his famous sense of humor, the Huffington Post reports."Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white First Lady?" DeNiro asked.The crowd "roared" in response, prompting DeNiro to go back for more: "Too soon, right?" It's Tuesday again, and if you don't know what that means, we cannot in good conscience recommend that you continue reading. Because you've stumbled onto our live blog coverage of today's presidential primary in Illinois, and in not too long here we're going to be neck deep in polls, talking points, delegate tallies and possibly more cute videos like this one about members of Congress and their dogs. Tom McCarthy here in New York. My colleague Ryan Devereaux has a roundup of where things stand this morning: ? It's hot in Illinois, where Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are fighting for 69 delegates. The pollsters are ready to give Romney the wreath. The conservative and evangelical voters in the south who'll vote for Rick Santorum won't outnumber Chicago-area moderates, they're saying. We'll find out tonight.? The Republican 2013 budget proposal will be announced at 10am ET ? just minutes away. [Update: We misremembered the C-SPAN schedule. They will carry the event live at 10:30 am.] Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis) will once again be doing the honors. We'll be following the proceedings closely to see how the GOP will frame its budget strategy in an election year, and to see whether Ryan's proposal gels with what the candidates are saying.? Rick Santorum went on Fox News last night to clean up a little mess he made yesterday when, trying to draw a contrast with his opponent, he said "I don't care what the unemployment rate is going to be." The contrast was successfully drawn, but not in a good way. Santorum explained on Fox that what he meant was we should address the underlying causes of job loss instead of focusing on the unemployment number.? The Santorum campaign has been outspent by Romney's team by a margin of 7-1 in Illinois. The difference was even more dramatic in Chicago, where Romney and his Super Pac outspent pro-Santorum dollars by a ration of 21 to 1, Politico reports.