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Chris Van Hollen
Van Hollen

Van Hollen decries GOP direction on safety net programs

By Jessica Zigmond
Posted: April 16, 2012 - 5:30 pm ET

The ranking member of the House Budget Committee said a Tuesday hearing of that panel to examine the nation's safety net programs will defend a House Republican budget blueprint that “shreds the safety net.”

In a conference call with reporters Monday, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said chances are “very remote” that the budget plan unveiled last month by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will be approved by the Senate or signed by the president. But he acknowledged that the budget proposal is a clear signal of the direction that Republicans want to take in the future.

“As you know, Gov. Romney has embraced the House Republican budget,” Van Hollen said, referring to the former Massachusetts governor who is now the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination. “So there are very real negative consequences to the path they are going down.”

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The Maryland Democrat spoke a little about Medicaid, calling it a “50-state program,” in which he meant that states have the ability to experiment. Ryan's budget calls for shifting Medicaid into a block-grant program for states.

“Part of tomorrow's hearing is designed to talk about additional requirements for people who participate in various programs, whether Medicaid or food and nutrition” programs, Van Hollen said. “We'll get a better idea tomorrow, but they've been indicating that they want to apply some of these requirements to some means-tested programs going forward.”

Panelists at the Tuesday-morning hearing will include Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Ron Haskins, co-director for the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution; Casey Mulligan, professor of economics at the University of Chicago; and Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

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