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Democrats slam GOP budget on taxes, health care cuts – Orange County Register

By ANDREW TAYLOR

WASHINGTON — The Republican-led Senate rejected Democratic attempts to spare health programs for the poor and elderly from cuts, absorbing political hits as the price for advancing a $4 trillion budget plan that’s a crucial step in the GOP’s drive to rewrite the tax code later this year.

In rapid-fire party-line votes, Republicans defended cuts to Medicare of almost $500 billion over the coming decade as well as a provision to curb the Medicaid health program for the poor by twice as much.

“Do you want to cut Medicaid or not, yes or no? Do you want to cut Medicare or not, yes or no?” said top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York. “Do you want to vote for a $1.5 trillion deficit or not, yes or no?”

Republicans controlling the Senate, on track to pass the budget measure later this week, rejected the Democratic moves on back-to-back 51-47 votes. They appear to be on cruise control to pass the budget on Thursday or early Friday morning. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is the only Republican to come out against the measure, while more moderate Republicans who bucked the party on health care earlier this year such as Susan Collins of Maine are backing the effort.

At issue is a non-binding budget plan that proposes, in theory, a set of significant changes to the nation’s fiscal trajectory, including cuts to health care programs for the poor, a slew of unspecified cuts to other programs, and maintaining tight spending restraints on annual operating budgets for the Pentagon and domestic Cabinet departments. Republicans, however, have no plans to actually impose those cuts with follow-up legislation.

“Anything that we do here has to be completed in other committees in order to ever happen,” said Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. “But this budget does slow Medicare’s projected annual rate of growth by approximately 1 percent.”

Democrats both blasted Republicans for the cuts and, ironically, not doing enough about the growing…

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