Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Ryan Budget is Cowardly, not "Courageous"

I have lost count of the number of times I have read today that Congressman Paul Ryan's budget plan is "courageous." I suppose people say that because he proposes draconian cuts in Medicare spending. But the budget is not courageous; it is cowardly, because it evades all of the real choices we have to make.

1) It does not raise taxes overall, and, in fact, it includes a big tax cut for rich people. This is not courageous, it is a shameless money grab by Ryan on behalf of himself and all of his rich friends. He (and everyone else making more than $150,00 a year) comes out really well in this budget. What is courageous about a plan that proposes pain for other people but only more goodies for yourself? I believe that we should start our budget fix by raising taxes back to where they were in 2000, and any plan that does not is a shill to Republican voters and rich businessmen, devoid of real courage.

2) It does not touch defense spending. So poor people will have to go without health care so we can have more missiles, bombers, Littoral Combat Ships, and what have you.

3) The numbers are cooked; among other things, Ryan's budget says we will save $1.4 trillion over 10 years by repealing Obamacare, but according to the CBO Obamacare will save the government money, so this is a farce. It also relies on Laffer Curve-style accounting, according to which lower tax rates will bring in more revenue, another farce. A courageous budget would use real numbers.

4) The centerpiece of the plan is the rigid caps on government medical spending; Medicare is to become an insurance voucher program with a restricted growth rate, and Medicaid will become block grants to the states with a similar growth cap. As I already explained, that doesn't fix our health care problem, it just punts the task of deciding what care we will pay for to someone else. All of the pain here will be born by poor and ordinary Americans who will no longer be able to afford health care, or by the states.

And over ten years, which I think is as far out as we can budget realistically, it actually increases the deficit, because the tax cuts Ryan proposes are bigger than his budget cuts. Where is the courage?

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