WASHINGTON — House Republicans overwhelmingly passed a budget proposal Friday that would fundamentally overhaul and slash funding for Medicare — a vote that Democrats are predicting will come back to haunt the GOP in 2012.
The proposal, offered by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), would cut trillions from the federal debt over the next decade and transform Medicare from a government-run program into a voucher-like system where the government subsidizes purchases of private insurance plans. People aged 55 years and older would remain in the current system, but younger people would begin receiving subsidies that steadily lose value over time.
Democrats, who argue that the Ryan budget plan kills Medicare, predicted Republicans’ near-unanimous vote for the bill will have dire political consequences for them among older voters. It passed 235 to 193, with every Democrat voting “no” and only four GOP lawmakers opposing it: Reps. Ron Paul (Texas), Walter Jones (N.C.), David McKinley (W.Va.) and Denny Rehberg (Mont.), who is running for Senate in 2012.