Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mitt Romney's Marvelous Budget

"Marvelous." That's the word that Mitt Romney used to describe Paul Ryan's latest budget. The new budget, entitled The Path to Prosperity, was passed along party lines by House Republicans last week. Many of you may know Paul Ryan from his 2011 fame as the serious, fiscally responsible budget-balancer. Or so the media deemed him. He even got a "fi$cy" award for fiscal responsibility. It becomes readily apparent when you actually look at the details of his latest budget proposal, that Paul Ryan's budget, is, in fact, not fiscally responsible, not serious, and definitely not marvelous.

So what's so bad about this budget? Well, let's start with what gets cut. The budget calls for $5.3 trillion in spending cuts. Where do these cuts fall, you might ask? Well, let's just start by saying that 62% ($3.3 trillion) of the cuts come from programs for the poor and needy. What kind of programs? Well, supplemental nutrition programs for young children (SNAP) gets a hefty $134 billion cut over 10 years. Medicaid, the program for poor, disabled, and elderly people who need extra care gets a whopping $2.4 trillion cut over 10 years. On top of that, $166 billion is cut from a wide range of programs, including job training programs and Pell Grants for lower income college students. As if all of this wasn't bad enough, this is what the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has to say about the budget plan:
"Since, as CBO notes, “spending for defense alone has not been lower than 3 percent of GDP in any year [since World War II]” and Ryan seeks a high level of defense spending — he increases defense funding by $228 billion over the next ten years above the pre-sequestration baseline — the rest of government would largely have to disappear. That includes everything from veterans’ programs to medical and scientific research, highways, education, nearly all programs for low-income families and individuals other than Medicaid, national parks, border patrols, protection of food safety and the water supply, law enforcement, and the like."
In other words, I hope you like the highways as they are, because there won't be any money to fix them. I hope you like paying for your own care, veterans, because Paul Ryan's plan thinks your service to America deserves no recompense. I hope you like tainted food, water, and air, because Paul Ryan doesn't think that's an important factor in determining the prosperity of our nation. And seniors, I hope you like paying for more and more of your health care, because Paul Ryan will give you a voucher that covers less and less of your insurance costs. I'm not exaggerating.

All of these things, according to the House GOP, must be done in the name of balancing our budget. All of these things, according to the House GOP, we simply can't afford anymore, so we all have to share in the sacrifice. You know, they might have one tiny shred, one iota of credibility when they say things like this, if it weren't for the tax cuts. Ohh, the tax cuts. Paul Ryan is proposing to eliminate all but two brackets--10% an 25%, and cutting the corporate tax rate down to 25%. How will these tax cuts affect people in different income levels, you might ask?


Shared sacrifice, says the GOP. Bullhonkery, says I. The middle class barely benefits from the tax cuts, while people making over $200,000 take the lion's share. This is more pronounced when you consider the large cuts to lower and middle-income programs that this budget makes, so that ultimately, poorer and middle class people are worse off under this budget, while the wealthy get a hefty tax break. The GOP's defense of this tax cut is that the wealthy are the so-called "job creators" of America, and by taxing them, we'll somehow have fewer jobs. The reality of this is that less than 2 percent small business owners are in the top two tax brackets

But wait, it gets worse! These tax breaks end up costing a total of $4.6 trillion dollars, to say nothing of the $5.4 trillion cost of extending the Bush tax cuts. Ryan claims that the revenue will be made up for by closing loopholes. Which ones, you might ask? Well, he hasn't named a single one. He has, however, explicitly stated his refusal to close loopholes on capital gains, the very same ones that allow Mitt Romney to pay 14% in income taxes. This isn't fiscal discipline. This isn't serious.

And what really scares me is that this budget isn't some fringe group's proposal. This has been endorsed by the Republican nominee for President. This was voted for by the entire House GOP. This is now their vision for America. In a speech last December, Mitt Romney said that he bought into Teddy Roosevelt's thinking "that government should level the playing field to create equal opportunities." In another speech, he argued that ordinary people's frustration with the greed of corporate CEOs was simply about envy and class warfare. If Mitt Romney really believed that the government should create equal opportunities, he wouldn't have endorsed a budget that would deprive millions of a chance at a college education. If Mitt Romney really wanted to speak out against class warfare, he wouldn't have endorsed a budget that leaves the poor and middle class out in the cold while giving millionaires a tax cut. This isn't the path to prosperity. This isn't even the path to deficit reduction. This is a raw deal, and it's being peddled by a pack of charlatans who've taken over a once-reasonable political party.