by Randolph T. Holhut
Chief of AR Correspondents
April 18, 2014
PAUL RYAN'S BUDGET: OUT OF TOUCH WITH AMERICA
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- House Republicans gave their overwhelming approval last week to Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan.
The good news is that there were 14 Republicans not demonstrably mad, as 12 voted no and two abstained. No Democrats voted for the Ryan budget, with 193 no votes and six abstainers.
This is a budget that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid, and tell more than 9 million people who now have health insurance to get lost.
This is a budget that would turn Medicare into a voucher plan, and raise the eligibility age to 67.
This is a budget that would slash food stamps and the Low Income Energy Assistance Program.
This is a budget that would cut Pell Grants and student loan funding for college students.
In fact, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 69 percent of the cuts in the Ryan budget - in all, $3.3 trillion over 10 years - target programs for low- and moderate-income Americans.
This is also a budget that would increase military spending by $483 billion, gut funding for policing the financial sector, and (of course!) cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans.
On issue after issue, the Ryan budget runs counter to what a majority of Americans say they want.
How far out of touch is it?
According to recent polls, nearly three-quarters of Americans say that the federal deficit should be reduced by raising taxes on the wealthy and cutting tax credits and loopholes, rather than cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Roughly two-thirds say corporations and upper-income people pay too little in taxes. Some 54 percent favor raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations to expand programs for the poor.
Compare the Ryan budget with the "Better Off Budget" proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), and President Obama's budget, with what Americans say they want, and the gap is even wider.
About 74 percent say creating new jobs should be a priority. The CPC budget includes $1.3 trillion for job creation. Obama's budget has $143 billion for this. The Ryan budget has nothing.
And 74 percent support expanding Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act. The CPC budget also increases funding for Medicaid. The Obama budget makes no changes. The Ryan budget cuts Medicaid expansion and turns the program into a block grant, administered at the state level.
Seventy percent oppose cutting food stamps. The CPC budget restores the benefits that were cut by Republicans in the recent Farm Bill. The Obama budget proposes no changes. The Ryan budget makes deep cuts.
Some 69 percent say improving the U.S. education system should be a priority for Congress and the White House. Both the CPC and Obama budgets increase funding for education. The Ryan budget does not.
Thankfully, there is zero chance that the Ryan budget will even get a vote in the U.S. Senate. And if, by some improbable occurrence on a par with the sun rising in the west, the Senate voted for the Ryan budget, it would be quickly and decisively vetoed by President Obama.
But the Ryan budget does serve an important purpose. You get a clear illustration of what would happen if Republicans take over the Senate and keep their majority in the House of Representatives. You'd get a government that accelerates inequality - and locks it in for decades to come.
Let the voter beware in November.
AR's Chief of Correspondents, Randolph T. Holhut, holds an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and has been an award-winning journalist in New England for more than 30 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at email@example.com.