By Carl Hulse for the New York Times

House Republicans plan this week to propose more than $4 trillion in federal spending reductions over the next decade by reshaping popular programs like Medicare, the Budget Committee chairman said Sunday in opening a new front in the intensifying budget wars.

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” the chairman, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, also said Republicans would call for strict caps on all government spending that would require cuts to take effect whenever Congress exceeded those limits.

“We are going to put out a plan that gets our debt on a downward trajectory and gets us to a point of giving our next generation a debt-free nation,” Mr. Ryan said, even as he predicted that the politically charged initiatives he intended to lay out in the 2012 budget beginning Tuesday would give Democrats a “political weapon to go against us.”

“But they will have to lie and demagogue to make that a political weapon,” he said.

Republicans and Democrats remained divided over how to reach an agreement that would avert a government shutdown, which could come as early as Saturday, when a budget bill now financing the government is set to expire.

Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the chamber’s No. 3 Democrat, said progress was being made, but neither he nor other top lawmakers could guarantee that government agencies would be able to stay open after Friday.

Mr. Schumer said Democrats were urging Republicans to consider reducing some of the automatic annual spending in Agriculture, Treasury and Justice Department programs to reach a target of about $33 billion in cuts rather than insisting that it all come out of what is known in budget parlance as discretionary accounts.

A Democrat involved in the negotiations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said alternative spending cuts from the White House and Senate Democrats would range up to $8 billion. But to the Democrats’ dismay, not only were Republicans resisting those cuts, they were also proposing more spending than the Pentagon wants for military and homeland security programs.

“If you just cut from domestic discretionary, you’ll have to cut things like helping students go to college; you’ll have to cut scientific research, including cancer research,” Mr. Schumer said on the ABC News program “This Week.” “These things have created millions of jobs through the years.”

Continue reading…