Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The GOP's alleged boy genius, Ayn Rand fanboy Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), is out today with his "Roadmap for America's Ruin" budget 3.0, which appears to be remarkably similar to the previous two iterations.
As Paul Krugman commented some time ago, The Flimflam Man – NYTimes.com:
[I]t’s the audacity of dopes. Mr. Ryan
isn’t offering fresh food for thought; he’s serving up leftovers from
the 1990s, drenched in flimflam sauce.
Well, there is something new in the Flimflam Man's plan this time: he is keeping the higher top marginal tax rates on the wealthy that President Obama got from Republicans in the fiscal cliff deal; he is, for the third time, keeping the $716 billion in future Medicare costs savings from "ObamaCare" — the very "cuts to Medicare" for which Republicans have twice run hypocritical "Mediscare" campaigns against Democrats; and he is keeping the means testing tax increases on higher income earners under "ObamaCare" while promising to repeal the health benefits provisions of "ObamaCare" for millions of Americans. Ryan Doesn’t Repeal Obamacare: Maintains Cuts And Taxes, Eliminates Benefits.
As FAUX News anchor Chris Wallace matter-of-factly told the Flimflam Man to his his face on Sunday, "that's not going to happen." Once again, this is not a serious budget from someone whom the Beltway media villagers wrongly deem to be serious — he is not.
Ezra Klein previewed Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Ruin" budget 3.0 on the Rachel Maddow Show on Monday. Transcript Monday, March 11.
Ezra Klein gives his quick take on Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Ruin" budget 3.0 today in Paul Ryan’s budget: Social engineering with a side of deficit reduction:
Here is Paul Ryan’s path to a balanced budget in three sentences: He
cuts deep into spending on health care for the poor and some combination
of education, infrastructure, research, public-safety, and low-income
programs. The Affordable Care Act’s Medicare cuts remain, but the
military is spared, as is Social Security. There’s a vague individual
tax reform plan that leaves only two tax brackets — 10 percent and 25
percent — and will require either huge, deficit-busting tax cuts or
increasing taxes on poor and middle-class households, as well as a vague
corporate tax reform plan that lowers the rate from 35 percent to 25
percent. [Making income taxes less progressive.]
But the real point of Ryan’s budget is its ambitious reforms, not its
savings. It turns Medicare into a voucher program, turns Medicaid, food
stamps, and a host of other programs for the poor into block grants
managed by the states, shrinks the federal role on priorities like
infrastructure and education to a tiny fraction of its current level,
and envisions an entirely new tax code that will do much less to
encourage home buying and health insurance.
Ryan’s budget is intended to do nothing less than fundamentally
transform the relationship between Americans and their government. That,
and not deficit reduction, is its real point, as it has been Ryan’s
real point throughout his career.
But it takes a while to get to all that. The opening paragraph is a
recitation of ills that Ryan’s budget does little to fix, and the first
chapter is an attempt to justify his cuts through a horror story that
doesn’t add up.
* * *
Ryan’s budget isn’t about most of these challenges. It won’t create
jobs this year, and will likely cost jobs in the years to come by
putting the economy on a steep austerity ramp. There’s no housing policy
for the millions of families in foreclosure and no way to read Ryan’s
budget without assuming massive cuts to student-loans programs. That may
mean fewer families watching student loans pile up, but only because
they didn’t get any in the first place.
As for medical costs, fully 59 percent of Ryan’s savings come from
new cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare or other health-care programs —
and that omits the $800 billion in Medicare cuts he keeps from
Obamacare. So there will be less health-care bureaucracy, sure, but also
less health care. The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that cuts on the order of what Ryan is proposing will mean around 35 million people lose their health-care coverage.
* * *
Ryan’s [debt] nightmare scenario isn’t likely even in the absence of new policy. A reasonable assumption of future debt is about 112 percent of GDP come 2037
— and that’s assuming the repeal of the sequester. That’s too high for
comfort, and there’s some evidence that debt at that level could harm
the economy. But there’s no evidence that it would create the kind of
Mad Max-style scenario Ryan paints.
That, however, gives this argument too much credit. The relevant
question isn’t Ryan or nothing. It’s Ryan or a more modest alternative
that includes fewer spending cuts, more tax increases, and a
significant, though slightly smaller, level of overall deficit
That more modest package that stabilizes and then slowly brings down our
debt-to-GDP ratio would be equally effective as Ryan’s plan in averting
the debtpocalypse that he fears — which is to say, the debtpocalypse,
with its financial collapse and its stalled economy and its unraveling
safety net, simply won’t happen under either scenario. And the more
modest plan also means much more modest cuts to programs for the poor.
The real justification for Ryan’s budget and the choices it makes is not fear of a debt crisis but fear of government.
* * *
Ryan’s budget is, at its core, a set of very distinct, very
ideological, and, over the course of Ryan’s career, very consistent
ideas about how to reform the relationship between the federal
government and its citizens. Ryan was pushing these ideas in the
late-’90s and early-2000s, too, when deficits were far less of a threat.
The only item he’s dropped is Social Security privatization — but it
was, remember, in the 2010 iteration of his budget. As I’ve written before, Ryan isn’t a deficit hawk so much as he’s a conservative reformer.
The problem is that these ideas are not, on their own, popular. In
fact, they’re deeply unpopular, and considered quite radical. That’s why
Newt Gingrich rejected Ryan’s initial budget as “right-wing social
engineering” — it is, in a very serious sense, an effort to use policy
reform re-engineer the relationship individuals have with their
governments, their communities, and their families. But presented on
their own, Ryan’s plans scare people.
* * *
But whether these are good or bad ideas, they are not, under any
reasonable definition of the term, necessary ideas. Compared to other
possible policies that will also forestall a debt crisis, they are much
more painful for the poor, much less painful for the rich, and much more
about social engineering than deficit reduction.
Other Washington Post pundits agree with Ezra Klein's blunt assessment.
Eugene Robinson – Paul Ryan in fantasyland
Jonathan Capehart – The Paul Ryan budget isn't serious
Jonathan Bernstein – Less is more? Less specificity, that is, for Ryan
Suzy Khimm – Paul Ryan punts on tax reform
Ezra Klein (again) – Five huge things we still don’t know about Paul Ryan’s budget
Jed Lewison catches House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) delivering a line today he probably wishes he could take back:
"This to us is something that we're not going to give up on, because
we're not going to give up on destroying the health care system for the