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Paul Ryan Aptly Releases GOP Budget on April Fool's Day

April 1, 2014

And now a few words of advice to Paul Ryan: for your own sake if not ours, stop unveiling your House Republican budget proposals on April Fool's Day. It only draws attention to the fact that from top to bottom, your supposed "Path to Prosperity" is a joke.
Here are just some of the reasons the American people are laughing at Paul Ryan, not with him.
For starters, the self-proclaimed anti-poverty champion has put forth a recipe certain to produce a lot more poor people. His $5 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade primarily targets the social safety net and reduces non-defense discretionary spending--already at 50 years lows as a percentage of the U.S. economy--much further still. Repealing Obamacare and slashing Medicaid spending by a third (and sending what's left as block grants to the states) would leave over 30 million more people without health insurance.
While leaving Social Security and Medicare off-limits for current retirees (and the GOP's most reliable current voters), those now 55 years old and younger are in Ryan's crosshairs. Social Security, he says, should be reformed, though he refused to say how. His Social Security plan in brief?

  • Require the President to submit a plan to shore up the Social Security Trust Fund.
  • Require Congress to submit a plan of its own.

Even more comically pathetic, Paul Ryan once again calls for converting Medicare into an underfunded voucher-scheme by giving future seniors "premium support" to buy health coverage from the government or private insurers. The result, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) repeatedly found, is a dramatic shift in health care costs to elderly. Adding insult to the injury that is his Medicare rationing gambit, Ryan is still planning to use the exact same $700 billion in cuts Republicans routinely decry to Medicare Advantage providers to offset the gargantuan cost of his upper0class tax cuts.
That's right. The rich are once again beneficiaries of Paul Ryan's massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy. His overhaul of the U.S. tax code to just two income brackets (10 and 25 percent) and reducing the corporate to 25 percent would fill the vaults of the gilded class while actually increasing taxes for lower income Americans.
Ryan's cynical giveaway would not necessarily come to pass if he the courage to name a single tax break he would close. But as he has since the introduction since his first roadmap five years ago, Ryan is silent on which of the tax expenditures now costing Uncle Sam $1.3 trillion he would limit or end. While speaking favorably of outgoing House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp's three-tiered proposal and highlighting Congressman Burgess' flat-tax plan and Congressman Woodall's consumption tax alternative, the courageous Mr. Ryan turned tail and ran from the tough choices:

This resolution calls on comprehensive tax reform and lays out some principles, but it does not embrace any particular plan. There are many good ideas on that front------growth-oriented tax plans that could strengthen the economy and support the nation's funding priorities.

(If that joke sounds familiar, it should. Elsewhere in his document, the champion of subsidiarity has delegated his anti-poverty plan to someone else. "Although this budget does not lay out a full welfare-reform plan," Ryan admits, "It takes steps toward reforming these programs to encourage work, to increase economic growth and jobs, and to preserve the safety net.")
The inevitable result of this latest April Fool's Day incarnation, as with every other Ryan budget blueprint, is surging inequality and exploding deficits as far as the eye can see.
The Treasury's hemorrhaging of red ink won't be as deadly, Ryan assures us, because his budget will produce positive "macroeconomic feedback." That is, tax revenue will be higher than it otherwise would have been because smaller spending and lower taxes will produce faster economic growth. But as the history of the Bush tax cuts has shown, the "macroeconomic fiscal impact" of massive supply-side tax cuts doesn't guarantee a ramped American economy, only more national debt.
Paul Ryan's vision for America--more debt, a tax cut bonanza for the mega-rich, Medicare rationing and millions more uninsured--is hardly the stuff of Republican talking points for November's midterms. Instead, his GOP allies will campaign on the same tried and untrue sound bites they've used for years. Democrats, they will claim, "made the economy worse" and are "cutting Medicare at the expense of seniors."
And that's the cruelest joke of all.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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