Ryan's Budget Is Little More Than a Budget for the 1 Percent
The only question is how bad the pain Ryan's budget causes will be
March 23, 2012
Last year, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" budget became an anvil around the neck of the Republican Party, wasting away its post-majority goodwill, hog-tying its presidential candidates, and ultimately costing the party a special congressional election it should have won.
The idea that a new edition of the budget won't hurt the party again is absurd.
Ryan unveiled the latest version of the GOP's "Path to Prosperity" Tuesday, and it was immediately clear that it was little more than a budget for the 1 percent. It contains roughly $2 trillion in tax breaks for the rich and $1 trillion in breaks for corporations, all while ensuring that vital programs the poor and middle class rely on—food stamps, Pell Grants, and, not least, Medicare and Medicaid—would face drastic cuts.
Worse yet, despite all his talk about a moral obligation to slash deficits and cut the national debt, the only reason the GOP's budget can claim to do so is because Ryan assumes future revenue and spending levels that are little more than pure fantasy. "Absurd and impossible," The Atlantic's Derek Thompson called it.
In the last year, the conversations Americans are having about politics have changed. The Occupy Wall Street movement focused the discussion on income inequality, absurd tax breaks for corporations and the rich, ballooning student loan debt, and the increasing plight of the poorest Americans.
By endorsing Ryan's budget, the GOP is assuring us all that they are sleeping through those conversations. Instead of helping students, they cut Pell Grants. Instead of focusing on income inequality, they cut programs the poor depend on the most. Instead of taking a nuanced approach to reforming entitlements, they slash and burn the most popular healthcare plan in the country. And instead of asking the rich to chip in to cut the deficit, they give them an even bigger handout. All that, and they still manage to make the debt worse!
Americans want to preserve Medicare. They want to reduce inequality. They want to help struggling homeowners, workers, and the unemployed. They want the rich to help pay down deficits they helped create. And most of all, they want to know that Washington is listening.
Unfortunately, Republicans just proved they weren't. This isn't a question of if Ryan's budget will hurt his party. It's a question of how bad the pain will be.