The House has passed an aggressive 2012 budget plan that would slash the federal budget and eliminate Medicare and Medicaid as we know them. On a strict party-line vote on Friday—only four Republicans opposed the plan—the chamber sent the bill to the Senate, 235-193. Don’t get too excited, though: Majority Leader Harry Reid has pledged it will die there. The bill would cut the deficit by $5.3 trillion over the next decade and transform Medicare into a voucher program and Medicaid into a series of block grants to states. Even if it is doomed, the vote is the opening salvo for what promises to be a lengthy legislative maneuvering season as both parties position themselves for the 2012 election.
BUDGET BATTLE William B. Plowman / AP Photo, William B. Plowman