A brutal assessment of the GOP’s budget plan.
The new Ryan budget is a remarkable document — one that, for most of the past half-century, would have been outside the bounds of mainstream discussion due to its extreme nature. In essence, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse — on steroids. It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history). It also would stand a core principle of the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission’s report on its head — that policymakers should reduce the deficit in a way that does not increase poverty or widen inequality.Specifically, the Ryan budget would impose extraordinary cuts in programs that serve as a lifeline for our nation’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens, and over time would cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their health insurance or become underinsured. It would also impose severe cuts in non-defense discretionary programs—much deeper than the across-the-board cuts (“sequestration”) that are scheduled to take place starting in January — thereby putting core government functions at still greater risk. Indeed, a new Congressional Budget Office analysis that Chairman Ryan himself requested shows that, after several decades, the Ryan budget would shrink the federal government so dramatically that most of what it does outside of Social Security, health care, and defense would essentially disappear.
Yet alongside these extraordinary budget cuts, with their dismantling of key parts of the safety net, the budget features stunning new tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. These tax cuts would come on top of the average tax cut of more than $125,000 a year that the Tax Policy Center (TPC) estimates that people who make over $1 million a year will receive if — as the Ryan budget also proposes —policymakers make all of President Bush’s tax cuts permanent.
There’s a lot more — Greenstein calls this a “Scrooge-like, Gilded-Age” budget plan — but I think you get the gist. If I had to boil this assessment down to a single word, I think I’d choose “inhumane,” with “immoral” running a close second.
“It’s worth noting that Greenstein is not a wild-eyed ideologue or partisan bomb-thrower; he’s one of Washington’s most respected budget experts,” comments Steve Benen. “He’s not prone to hyperbole or rhetorical excesses, so when Greenstein uses language like this, it’s only because of the unusual extremism of the policy agenda itself.”
Seriously, if you’re not fabulously well-to-do and you support the Republican budget plan, then you’re a world class chump. There is no other way to put it.