(CNN) – Republican presidential contenders are responding to a budget that passed the GOP-controlled House on Thursday, but has little chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The plan, closely associated with House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan, bears some similarities to the budget proposals of the three major presidential hopefuls.
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In a statement e-mailed to reporters, Mitt Romney described the plan as "progress."
The House, he said, has "rejected President (Barack) Obama's vision of an America with higher taxes, unlimited spending and expansive government. Owing in no small part to the leadership of Paul Ryan, it has put conservative fiscal principles into action and passed a bold budget that directly addresses the drivers of our nation's spending crisis. The House budget and my own plan share the same path forward: pro-growth tax cuts, getting federal spending under control and strengthening entitlement programs for future generations."
The vote was almost entirely along party lines. No Democrats voted in favor of the bill, and 10 Republicans voted against it.
Rick Santorum raised the issue at a Wednesday evening event in Fairfield, California.
"I've been taking the message around this country that we need limited government, a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution," Santorum said. "We need to have a spending program, while Paul Ryan's is a great program and I heartily endorse it, it's 5 trillion dollars in cuts over 10 years."
"We need 5 trillion dollars in cuts over five years if we are going to balance this budget," he said. "And we need to balance this budget. "
Newt Gingrich once drew Republican ire for describing a Medicare voucher system as "right-wing social engineering." A previous Ryan budget in headlines at the time continued such a provision, and the current bill would create a new Medicare exchange for future seniors, allowing them to choose between the federal program or a private program, with a subsidy to use towards either. The proposal also calls for block granting Medicaid, the federal health care program for low income individuals.
"I really think it's dangerous for conservatives to think that we can impose that we're so smart we're going to impose things," Gingrich said Thursday evening in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He recalled discussing his concerns with Ryan, and said the Wisconsin representative "responded very positively."
"What he's introduced this year is dramatically better, very defendable" than the previous plan, Gingrich said. "I admire both his intelligence and his courage because he's doing a lot of things."
The White House, which proposed a very different budget earlier this year, was critical of the plan.
"House Republicans today banded together to shower millionaires and billionaires with a massive tax cut paid for by ending Medicare as we know it and making extremely deep cuts to critical programs needed to create jobs and strengthen the middle class," press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. "The Ryan Republican budget would give every millionaire an average tax cut of at least $150,000, while preserving taxpayer giveaways to oil companies and breaks for Wall Street hedge fund managers."
"The president has put forward a balanced plan that would reduce our deficit by over $4 trillion by asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share, enacting responsible spending cuts and achieving significant health savings while still investing in the programs we need to grow our economy and bring economic security back to the middle class and seniors," the statement said. "Any serious attempt at tackling our deficits must be balanced, fair and demand shared responsibility. The Ryan Republican budget clearly fails that test."
– CNN's Shannon Travis and Justin Lear contributed to this report.