March 20, 2012 / 2:00 PM / 6 years ago

U.S. Republican budget targets tax reforms, Medicare

WASHINGTON, March 20 (Reuters) - U.S. House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled an ambitious plan to cut and simplify taxes, slash spending and make a new run at overhauling the Medicare health program in a bid to draw a stark election-year contrast between their vision and that of President Barack Obama.

While it has little chance of becoming law, Republicans in the House of Representatives are looking for the plan from Congressman Paul Ryan to provide a lift to their re-election fortunes in November.

The Republican budget plan would produce deficits totaling $3.13 trillion over the next 10 years - significantly below the $6.39 trillion in deficits that the Congressional Budget Office says Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget plan would produce.

The Republican plan claims to put the U.S. debt on a downward path, to 62 percent of U.S. economic output by 2022, versus Obama’s 76.3 percent, which is slightly above current levels.

The plan would cut taxes for individuals and have only two brackets - 10 percent and 25 percent - down from six now. It also would push through a corporate tax reform plan that would lower nominal tax rates to 25 percent from about 35 percent and largely eliminate taxes on U.S. companies’ overseas profits.

The Republican budget achieves much of its deficit reduction goals through savings gained by dismantling Obama’s 2010 healthcare reform law and by turning social safety net programs like food stamps and the Medicaid healthcare program for the poor into block grants for states.

After proposing last year to convert Medicare into a into a voucher-like program to allow seniors to purchase private insurance, Ryan has modified his reforms in an effort blunt criticism that it would shift too much cost on to the elderly.

The new plan offers so-called “premium support” to allow beneficiaries to purchase either traditional Medicare or competing plans through a government-run exchange.

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