On Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his latest budget proposal. His budget for fiscal year 2015, titled ‘The Path to Prosperity,’ is even more extreme than his previous budget proposals and follows down the path of the extremely conservative fiscal message that he pushed during the 2012 election. Basically, it adheres to a strict economic philosophy of austerity, with trillions of dollars cut in federal spending over the next decade, most of it at the expense of poor and middle class.
Obviously, with the 2014 midterms just months away, Ryan is trying to appeal to the far-right base as well as extremely rich conservative donors with this budget proposal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called out Ryan’s budget by calling it ‘Kochtopia’ on the Senate floor Tuesday morning.
“The person who ran for vice president last go-round on the Republican ticket … he’s coming out with a budget. It’s a blueprint for a modern Koch … how would we say it? Kochtopia.”
Reid later sent out a tweet reiterating that point.
The budget proposals drafted by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan have been a blueprint for a modern Kochtopia. It’s the Koch Budget.
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) April 1, 2014
Per Ryan’s proposal, federal spending will be gutted to the tune of $5.1 trillion over the next ten years. The biggest cut will be to the Affordable Care Act. Ryan proposes getting rid of all subsidies that allow lower-income Americans the ability to purchase affordable health coverage. At the same time, his budget also shrinks Medicaid dramatically, making it far more difficult for poor and working-class citizens to have any legitimate health coverage. Overall, the proposed cuts to both the ACA and Medicaid total around $3 trillion.
In essence, this is just another way for Republicans to repeal Obamacare. By getting rid of all of the subsidies and contracting Medicaid, it once again takes the option of affordable health care away from the the vast majority of lower-income Americans and forces them to go uninsured. Furthermore, Ryan’s budget keeps the tax increases that come along with the ACA, even though his proposal strips away all of the benefits that those tax increases provided. Therefore, he is able to ‘balance’ his budget easier.
Ryan also fulfills another fantasy in his budget by pushing for Medicare to be a voucher program. This is something that he proposed during the 2012 campaign and turned out to be troubling for him and Mitt Romney. Essentially, he is calling for the death of Medicare. Instead of Medicare being a government-run insurance program, it will in essence just be a subsidy that senior citizens get to buy insurance from private companies. If the insurance is more than the voucher, then the senior citizen will have to pay the remainder of their premium out of pocket. Of course, this doesn’t effect those who are senior citizens or approaching that age right now. (Can’t anger the biggest Republican voting bloc, after all!) No, only those who are currently 55 or younger will have to deal with this new system.
Now, Ryan isn’t just satisfied with making healthcare unaffordable for the vast majority of Americans with this new budget. No sir! He also makes sure to propose cuts of $125 billion to SNAP. On top of that, to make sure that poor students have less of an ability to pull themselves out of their current situation, his budget also cuts Pell Grants. Finally, just to twist the knife in a little more to working and middle class America, he recommends job cuts to several government departments while also slashing pensions for public sector workers.
Well, if Ryan is so worried about eating away at the national debt and cutting yearly budget deficits, is he proposing any tax increases? Not really. He does keep the recent tax increases related to the ACA in place, but as they are already built into the budget, they can’t be considered new revenue. As stated above, he wants to get rid of the programs that these taxes are for, but use the revenue to help further balance his budget. In typical conservative fashion, Ryan proposes to cut taxes across the board, especially for the wealthy and corporations. His proposal calls for the top individual tax rate to be 25%.
In the end, this budget is nothing more than a campaign tool for Republicans. There is no way this will ever get passed in the Senate. It is merely something for Republicans to tout on the campaign trail this summer and fall, stating that they have a plan for the future. As for Ryan, it is his attempt to show he is a man of ‘ideas’ ahead of a possible 2016 run. But, all it really shows is that Ryan and Republicans are willing to balance a budget on the backs of the least fortunate, while advocating for a greater wealth gap in this country.
This budget is a cruel joke. One would hope that it was all just one big April Fool’s Day prank. Sadly, it isn’t. This is Paul Ryan’s vision for America.