This is day two of the hearings on U.S. Rep Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) 2015 budget. We knew a big part of it was the repeal of Obamacare. All of it. We also knew that it took a meat ax to programs for the poor and the working poor. But the good folks at the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) show where the Ryan cuts come from and how stark they are.
According to the latest analysis of the Ryan plan by CBPP, “Cuts in low-income discretionary and entitlement programs likely account for at least $3.3 trillion — or 69 percent — of the $4.8 trillion in non-defense cuts.” Richard Kogan and Joel Friedman, who wrote the report, also pointed out, “Not much has changed on this front from Chairman Ryan’s budget plan of a year ago, or the year before that. Then, too, Chairman Ryan proposed very deep cuts, the bulk of which were in programs that serve low- and moderate-income Americans.”
So, where do the $3.3 trillion in cuts come from? Take a look at the CBPP table below.
Defense spending would go up by $400 billion. To be wonkily specific, $438 billion. And there are no revenue increases. None. But the budget would be balanced in 10 years through various “savings.” Repeal of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and subsidies for the health-care exchanges would “save” $2.1 trillion. Cuts to Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (a.k.a. food stamps) and then turning that food assistance program into a block grant to states would “save” $869 billion. Also, there are “savings” in non-defense discretionary spending that come to $900 billion.
“Meanwhile, the budget aims to cut the top individual tax rate and the corporate income tax rate to 25 percent, eliminate the alternative minimum tax, and repeal the Affordable Care Act’s revenue-raising provisions,” said Robert Greenstein, president of the CBPP, in a statement last week. “These tax cuts would cost about $5 trillion over 10 years, based on past analyses by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. Yet the Ryan plan doesn’t identify a single tax break to close or narrow . . . the lost $5 trillion, even though his budget assumes no revenue losses overall.” He went on to say, “The Ryan budget is thus an exercise in obfuscation — failing to specify trillions of dollars that it would need in tax savings and budget cuts to make its numbers add up. No one should take seriously its claim to balance the budget in ten years.”
But as your blood boils and you shake your fist at no one in particular about all of this, here’s another reason no one should take the Ryan 2015 “budget” seriously. There is already a 2015 budget agreement in place. The two-year deal was negotiated by Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairmen of the House and Senate Budget Committees, respectively, and passed Congress last December. President Obama signed it into law a week later. Therefore, the latest incarnation of Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” should be viewed strictly as political theater. And bad theater, at that.
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