Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said the plan calls for a complete overhaul of the tax code — stripping out numerous tax write-offs while lowering income tax rates — but would leave Social Security untouched. The tax reform idea would generate an overall revenue increase of about $1 trillion over the coming decade.
Republicans controlling the House have fashioned plans to slash the budget deficit by about $5 trillion over the upcoming decade, blending unprecedented spending cuts with a fundamental restructuring of taxpayer-financed health care for the elderly and the poor.
The No. 2 Republican in the House said that the chamber won't pass another short-term federal funding bill to avert a government shutdown if talks between the GOP and the White House fail to produce a 2011 spending agreement by an April 8 deadline.
Minnesota's health maintenance organizations are enjoying surging profits from managing three state health insurance programs, and that's attracted the attention of officials looking for ways to balance the state's budget.
Senate Republicans say they want to spend $34.3 billion in the next two years, about the same as in the current budget. Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton proposes a $37.4 billion budget. The current two-year budget, which ends June 30, is expected to hit the $34.6 billion mark.
While Congress has spent the past several weeks debating how much to cut government spending through September, a growing number of lawmakers say they also want to act on long-term concerns about benefit programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
State officials had plenty of warning. Over the past three decades, two national commissions and a series of government audits sounded alarms about the dwindling amount of money states were setting aside to pay unemployment insurance to laid-off workers.
Swelling crowds of protesters who have descended on Wisconsin's Capitol in hopes of halting a Republican effort to end a half-century of collective bargaining rights for public workers steeled themselves for a long fight, buoyed by Democrats' decision to flee to avoid the measure's near-certain passage.
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