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With compromise plan dead, Bass supports controversial Ryan budget

Senior Political Reporter

March 29. 2012 3:00PM

WASHINGTON -- After a compromise budget plan he backed lost 382-38 on the U.S. House floor on Wednesday night, U.S. Rep. Charles Bass Thursday voted for the controversial House Budget Committee plan put forward by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. The Ryan plan passed the House 228-191.

In a statement just after the vote, Bass said, 'I voted for Chairman Ryan's plan because it is a great statement of principle and recognizes that our nation's unsustainable fiscal path is putting us on a collision course for higher taxes, even more spending, and bigger government. But unfortunately it is going nowhere because the Senate Democratic Leadership won't bring it up for a vote or even a debate.

'I supported a bipartisan and balanced plan that would get our nation back on track by cutting spending and reforming the tax code to make it simpler, fairer, and more competitive. While I'm disappointed it failed to pass last night, it was an important debate to have and one that the American people deserve and expect from Congress.'

Bass continued, 'As I've said before, I didn't come back to Congress to avoid making tough decisions or difficult votes. With bigger issues looming in the near future like automatic across-the-board cuts and the expiration of the tax cuts, Congress can and must do better than partisan squabbling and posturing to solve these problems. I will continue seeking opportunities to find common ground and work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to solve these crises together.'

The compromise plan embodied the deficit-reduction recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles commission that never reached a vote on Capitol Hill last year.

Fellow New Hampshire Rep. Frank Guinta also supports the Ryan plan but voted against the bipartisan plan Bass supported. Both congressmen supported the Ryan plan last year as well.

Guinta, after today's vote, said, 'For the second year in a row, the House has fulfilled its responsibility by passing a federal budget. That stands in stark contrast to the Senate, which hasn't passed a budget for three consecutive years.

"This generation has the opportunity to make what could be its greatest decision. We can stay on the current course of more spending, more debt and deficits, and more decline. Or we can seize this opportunity to change direction and restore discipline to our country's finances. The Path to Prosperity (the official name of the Ryan plan) would cut spending by $5 trillion over a decade compared to the Obama Administration's budget proposal, would bring deficits below 3percent of GDP by 2015, and would reform our tax code to eliminate loopholes for special interests and consolidate the current six tax brackets into two.

"Plus," said Guinta, "it protects Medicare for the people who currently receive its benefits, and safeguards this important program for future generations as well. The Path to Prosperity is the best approach for reviving our stalled economy and for encouraging the return of good, middle class jobs.'

Both Republican congressmen are facing stiff Democratic opposition in their bids for reelection this year.

Bass' challenger both in 2010 and this year, Democrat Ann McLane Kuster, immediately sent out a fund-raising appeal based on Bass' vote.

She wrote that he "has once again chosen to protect the interests of millionaires and corporations at the expense of middle class families."

Guinta was attacked by a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who said he "has once again chosen to side with millionaires and billionaires and end the Medicare guarantee that New Hampshire seniors paid a lifetime to earn.'

Bass said the Ryan plan would reduce the deficit by $5.3 trillion over 10 years and bring total government spending as a percents of Gross Domestic Product to 19.8 percent.

He said the bipartisan plan he originally backed would have reduced the deficit by more than $4 trillion over thenext 10 years "by cutting spending and generating revenue through closing tax loopholes while at the same time reforming the tax code and preserving programs like Medicare and Social Security."

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