Capitol Hill returns to normal this week as lawmakers begin serious talks on the 2012 budget, raising the debt ceiling, spending cuts and entitlement programs like Medicare. House Speaker John Boehner appears to be committed to linking any increase in the debt ceiling to large-scale spending cuts. Rumors that started last week that any reform of Medicare was being shelved are false as even the White House prepares to invite lawmakers from both parties to meetings on the subject. President Barack Obama, while getting a bump in poll numbers from the Osama bin Laden death-raid, is still showing very weak numbers when voters are asked about his economic policies. With the 2012 presidential campaign in full swing now, let the posturing begin!

john boehner

Congressman Paul Ryan′s plan for the 2012 budget tackles Medicare by introducing a free-market, voucher program, where seniors can shop around for the best deal to suit them. The plan is very similar to that which members of Congress currently enjoy. During a speech last night to the New York Economic Club, Speaker Boehner was very vocal about introducing means-testing to Medicare. Wealthy people will have to pay more on their own when it comes to medical bills.

With the United States already some $14.3 Trillion dollars in debt, and that′s just the on-budget debt, Boehner and others in the GOP want a direct link between raising the debt ceiling, increasing how much the government may borrow, to spending cuts. Boehner suggests that spending cuts must exceed the amount of the increase to the debt ceiling. He also fired a shot across the bow of Obama′s plan, or I should say concept of a plan, to rely more on increases in tax rates to balance the nation′s budget. The Ryan plan would lower tax rates but close many loopholes, thereby increasing revenue flow.

So after last week′s focus on the Osama bin Laden death-raid, Capitol Hill and the White House return to the more mundane business of dealing with the country′s National Debt and budget woes. Serious talks about the 2012 budget, raising the debt ceiling, spending cuts and reforming Medicare have returned to the fore front. Speaker John Boehner intends to links any increase in the nation′s credit card, the debt ceiling, to massive spending cuts. Even Barack Obama is now willing to discuss reforming entitlement programs like Medicare with the 2012 presidential campaign season now underway.

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