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US credit rating: Congress has many debt plans, but will it heed warning?

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In fact, Washington is awash with plans to rein in deficits. Last week, President Obama called for $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 12 years. Republicans call for $4 trillion over 10 years. Although those figures may be close, the approaches are starkly different.

On Friday, the House voted on five budget plans for fiscal year 2012, each with dramatically different strategies to resolve the nation’s fiscal woes. Here are details of those five plans:

• The GOP leadership plan, developed by House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin, lowered both individual and corporate tax rates and capped government spending as a percentage of gross domestic product. It also significantly overhauled Medicare and Medicaid, shifting costs to individuals and the states. It passed with no Democrat votes, 235 to 193.

• Democrats on the House budget panel, led by Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, aimed to bring the budget back toward “primary balance” by fiscal year 2018 by freezing nondefense spending for five years, ending tax breaks to oil and gas industries, and not renewing the Bush-era tax cuts. It failed 166 to 259, with no Republican votes.

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