WASHINGTON, March 20, 2012- Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., unveiled the “Path to Prosperity” budget proposal today, which instructs the House Committee on Agriculture to draft more than $33 billion in reductions over 10 years.
The proposal said the budget should “reflect the economic reality of record-high farm income by restructuring farm programs, saving taxpayers money and increasing farmer independence.”
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said the proposal demonstrates House leadership on tackling the nation’s debt, but that he doesn’t “support every detail and proposed cut.”
“I would caution people about reading too much into the numbers or policy proposals in either the President's budget or the Ryan budget,” he said. “They are only suggestions. “
Among those suggestions are two major reforms to farm policy, including reducing fixed payments that go to farmers despite price levels and to “reform the open-ended nature of the government’s support for crop insurance.”
President Obama’s budget proposal unveiled last month suggested $32 billion in budget reductions for USDA over 10 years, including approximately $8 billion in cuts to the federal crop insurance program as well as the elimination of direct payments.
“It will be interesting to see how ag groups that were obviously critical of the President’s budget react to Rep. Ryan’s proposal,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Hopefully there will be some consistency in the criticism.”
The House Agriculture Committee is one of six authorizing committees identified in the Ryan proposal to craft suggestions to replace next year’s across-the-board sequester mandated under the debt limit deal last fall. The Agriculture Committee would be expected to come up with $33.2 billion in reductions over the years 2012-2022.
“Path to Prosperity” also proposes reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), making aid contingent on work or job training. It would convert SNAP into a block grant tailored for each state’s low income populations, “indexed for inflation and eligibility beginning in 2016 after employment has recovered.”
The plan would also begin “devolving” other low income assistance programs to the states, because state governments “can better tailor assistance programs to their specific populations.”
Ryan said that by 2022, the plan would spend $5.3 trillion less than the Obama budget by, in large part, repealing “Obamacare” and block-granting Medicaid and other welfare programs to the states.
The Budget Control Act enacted last August set the FY 2013 discretionary spending level at $1.047 trillion, but the proposed House budget revealed today would reduce that by $19 billion.
Lucas said he hopes the House’s action today will compel the President and the Senate to “finally recognize that the $5 trillion that has been added to our debt since President Obama took office is not acceptable to the American people.”
He added that the House Agriculture Committee will continue its Farm Bill hearing process to craft policy that contributes to reducing the deficit.
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