Congressional Republicans have proposed a budget of sweeping spending cuts, tax reductions and reform to healthcare for the elderly that threatens to prove politically toxic for their party in an election year.

The chairman of the House of Representatives budget committee, Paul Ryan, launched the document by playing on fears of rising debt to propose the introduction of “competition” to Medicare in order to cut growing government spending on the program and balance the budget by 2040.

But the Republicans swiftly faced accusations of putting tax cuts for millionaires ahead of healthcare for skeptical seniors who forced Ryan to back away from a similar proposal last year after party leaders feared a backlash at the polls. Critics have also portrayed the Republican plan as seeking deep spending reductions in order to avoid mandatory cuts to the defense budget kicking in next year.