House Democrats Unveil Budget Plan With Tax Hikes

ANDREW TAYLOR | Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – House Democrats unveiled their response to Paul Ryan's GOP budget on Monday, and it relies on a $1.5 trillion in higher taxes over the coming 10 years and the economic benefits of immigration reform to make the numbers work.

The plan by Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen counts on hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenues from an influx of immigrant workers to help reduce deficits to the $600 billion range by 2024. The measure also embraces President Barack Obama's call for additional infrastructure spending, early childhood education, and additional jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

"Where Republicans in Congress gut funding that would boost the economy and help our nation succeed in the 21st century economy, we invest in our kids' education, infrastructure, and life-saving research," said Van Hollen.

Ryan's plan manages to eke out a balanced budget by 2024 by repealing the Affordable Care Act's coverage provisions and cutting spending across a wide swath of the federal budget. Both plans face votes this week, with the Wisconsin Republican's budget on track to pass.

This spring's election-year budget debate, however, has more to do with appealing to the political bases voters of the respective sides than a genuine attempt to find compromise solutions to the government's fiscal problems. Instead, a deal between Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., has already set the parameters for the upcoming round of 2015 appropriations bills. It was enacted in December.

Van Hollen's plan leaves in place so-called Obamacare and leaves the current Medicare system in place, whereas Ryan would repeal the law's benefits and set in motion a dramatic overhaul of Medicare for future retirees who are presently 55 or younger. It calls for extending refundable tax breaks for the working poor and providing them to childless workers as Obama calls for.

The Democratic blueprint promises a deficit of $637 billion in 2024, or 2.3 percent of the size of the economy. That provides for relative stability in the national debt as measure against gross domestic product. Under the current path, the Congressional Budget Office sees a deficit of $1.1 trillion in 2024.

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