When innocent people suffer from a government’s mistakes, it is a sign of high moral character to accept responsibility, pay restitution, and make necessary changes to ensure the blameless never suffer again. There are, though, some groups who recognize their untoward behavior causes great harm and revel in the thought of repeating, over and over again, their intentionally bad deeds if they can profit financially and politically. Republicans are notorious for repeating policies they know inflict pain on the economy, but instead of changing their behavior, they intend on making the poor pay for their economic malfeasance.
On Tuesday, Representative Paul Ryan announced his budget proposal to rein in spending and reduce the nation’s deficit with a ringing endorsement from Republican presidential hopeful Willard Romney. Ryan’s Heritage Foundation proposal included the Republican’s requisite attempt to destroy Medicare and replace it with a privatization scam to reward the insurance industry while depriving seniors of their lifelong investment in retirement-age healthcare. It is apparent that Republicans failed to learn last year’s lesson when outraged senior citizens railed against privatizing the wildly popular and successful Medicare program, but their wanton desire to eliminate safety nets overrides any comprehension of the public’s indignation. Like every Republican, Ryan asserts that it takes boldness to make difficult choices to reduce the nation’s deficit they insist is President Obama’s fault.
It is important to recognize the nation’s deficit is, in great part, due to Bush-Republicans propensity for unfunded tax cuts for the wealthy, an unfunded Medicare prescription plan, and ill-advised wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Republicans fantasize that President Obama increased the deficit from his first day in office, and the media has done its best to perpetuate that fallacy. One conservative pundit, Mark Knoller, wrote on CBS’s Political Hotsheet that the national deficit “was $10.626 trillion on President Bush’s last day in office, which coincided with President Obama’s first day,” and he attributes the 2009 deficit to President Obama. He, like conservatives are wont to do, is lying. On the President’s first day, and indeed the first year of his term, the 2009 budget was put in place by George W. Bush and not Barack Obama. Knoller knows he is lying, but it makes his argument believable to morons who lack a basic understanding of the way the country’s budgets work.
In Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity,” he proposes reducing the deficit over the next decade, but according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Ryan’s plan will add more to the deficit than if Congress maintains the status quo. Ryan’s budget would add $3.127 trillion to the deficit between 2013 and 2022, but the CBO projected that if “current laws generally remain unchanged, the federal government would incur deficits totaling $2.887 trillion from 2013 to 2022.” One reason the Ryan plan adds to the deficit is reducing federal tax revenue by $4 trillion over the next decade. The plan also replaces six individual tax brackets with a top bracket of 25% and lower bracket of 10%. It is little wonder wealthy elitists like Romney support Ryan’s plan because they will get a 10% cut in their tax liability while middle and lower income earners will see a tax increase. Under President Obama, a family of four paid a tax rate of 4.68% in 2010, so at 10%, working families will see a tax increase of 5.32% while the wealthiest Americans get a 10% tax cut. It is important to remember that wealthy Americans like Romney are not taxed on all their income which is why Willard pays around 15% in income taxes even though his tax rate is 35%, so the Ryan plan may allow the wealthy like Romney to pay about 5% in taxes. If the wealthy who benefit from Republicans’ unfunded tax cuts that increase the deficit are not helping reduce the debt, then who will fund Ryan’s deficit reduction plan? The poor, children, and seniors will be burdened with drastic cuts to reduce the deficit.
Ryan’s largest cuts come from eliminating $1.5 trillion the Affordable Care Act uses to purchase health insurance for 30 million Americans, cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). The cuts to SNAP offer Republicans a two-for-one insult because besides sending 3.9 million Americans, including 1.7 million children, into poverty, it will cost over one million jobs in the food industry. In fiscal year 2011, SNAP provided food assistance to 45 million Americans that enabled 14,000 Americans to keep their jobs for every billion dollars spent by SNAP recipients, or about one million jobs that will be lost with Ryan’s deficit reduction plan.
Ryan claims he is willing to make the tough choices in reducing the nation’s deficit, but he chooses to give the wealthy a huge tax cut, increase defense spending, and inflict serious pain on the poor. Congress would do better by the American people, and the deficit, if they maintained the status quo instead of slashing programs for the majority of Americans. Ryan’s plan adds more to the nation’s debt and reduces much-needed revenue by $4 trillion that is just more Bush-era Republican economic malfeasance, and to top it off, he wants to repeal Frank-Dodd financial reforms so banks can drive the economy into another recession and leave taxpayers to bail out the banking industry again.
Republican economic policy is responsible for a large part of the nation’s deficit, and instead of taking responsibility and changing their entitlements-for-the-wealthy agenda, they are proposing making the poor responsible for deficit reduction by cutting programs like healthcare and food stamps. The wealthy that benefited from Bush-Republican tax cuts get a substantial reduction in their tax rate and low-to-middle income earners will pay a higher rate than under President Obama. It is true that the deficit needs to be brought under control, but nearly every economist who does not work for the Heritage Foundation agrees that the current fragile economic situation is not the time for austerity measures. If Ryan was serious about reducing the deficit, he would increase revenue by raising taxes on the wealthy instead of giving them a 10% tax cut.
Ryan cannot help himself from returning this year with a cut-and-paste rendition of last year’s Heritage Foundation Path to Prosperity, or repeating Bush-Republican mistakes that are still increasing the deficit with less revenue and unfunded tax cuts for the wealthy, two unnecessary wars, and a Medicare prescription plan. Ryan, like Willard Romney, considers deficit reduction a necessity for a robust economic recovery, but only if reductions come for programs that affect the poor while reducing taxes for the rich. It is little wonder Romney is so supportive of Ryan’s proposal because unlike children, seniors, and the working poor, he stands to increase his wealth at about the same rate as the deficit grows under Ryan’s plan. Perhaps the title of Ryan’s plan is apropos, because it is definitely a path to more prosperity for the wealthy that the poor will pay for. However, making the poor pay for Republicans’ painful economic policies and deficit reduction is nothing new, and like Ryan’s budget proposal, it is more Bush-Republican gifts to the wealthy that will lead to perpetual deficits the poor will pay for until they have been starved to death. It leads one to ponder; who will Republicans hold responsible in ten years when Ryan or Romney’s budget have increased the deficit to unsustainable levels after the poor have been eliminated from existence? Based on their current modus operandi, it will most certainly be President Obama.