Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) called Republican colleague Paul Ryan out on his proposed budget plan on the House floor on Wednesday, saying Ryan’s much-ballyhooed proposal was really just his way of declaring himself a candidate for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
“This bill is intended not to stir great debate in Congress that ultimately delivers fiercely-needed solutions for Americans,” McDermott said. “Instead, this bill is written for the 2016 Republican National Convention. When you listen to [Ryan] talk about this budget, what you’re really hearing is the inaugural address of a 45th president of the United States — a rousing address that asks not what you can do for your country, but proudly proclaims that your country refuses to do a thing for you.”
The non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that Ryan’s budget calls for cutting $4.8 trillion in non-defense spending through 2024, with 69 percent of that coming from social service programs like Medicare and Medicaid, while also advocating repealing the Medicaid expansion that was mandated by the Affordable Care Act. It also includes a proposed $137 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and $150 billion in unspecified cuts from programs serving low-budget Americans.
“Millions of seniors tossed off Medicare,” McDermott charged on the House floor. “The social safety net gutted to pay for billionaire tax cuts. Infrastructure projects left to rot. Denying millions of Americans health security. And Medicaid slashed to the bone. And that’s just gonna be the first 100 days.”
McDermott also told his colleagues that their vote on a budget represented their endorsement of practices within a society.
“Today’s vote is the first vote,” he said. “If that kind of people get elected, either in the Senate or in the presidency in 2016, this is what you’re gonna see. They’re putting it right out there for everybody in America to see. And that’s why you must vote no.”
The Washington Post reported that, despite introducing his plan this week, that Ryan himself has already negotiated a two-year budget agreement with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) that was approved by both houses of Congress in December 2013.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that a bloc of House Republicans, the Republican Study Committee, has introduced a separate proposal calling for $7.4 trillion in cuts, even more than Ryan’s.
For his part, Ryan failed to address McDermott’s specific charges, instead calling his speech “a doozy.”
“Look, we just think we should balance the budget, have government live within its means, and pay off our debt,” Ryan said. “If ‘those kind of people’ get elected, great.”
Watch McDermott’s remarks, as posted online on Wednesday, below.