A new report to be released in coming days by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds that an astonishing 69 percent of the budget cuts in Paul Ryan’s new fiscal blueprint would hit programs designed to “serve people of limited means.”
CBPP calculates that Ryan’s new budget would level $3.3 trillion in cuts to such programs over 10 years — even as Republicans have been working to recast the party as concerned about poverty.
Ryan’s plan, which purports to balance the budget in 10 years, has no chance of going anywhere. But it matters as a statement of continuing GOP priorities, as a blueprint for the GOP’s vision for the economy and of government’s role — or lack of one — in combatting poverty and inequality and boosting economic mobility. It will, and should, figure in the midterm elections as a point of contrast with the Democratic agenda — raising the minimum wage, pay equity, early childhood education, infrastructure spending to create jobs, unemployment insurance, and of course the continued implementation of Obamacare, including the Medicaid expansion wherever it is moving forward.
The CBPP, which is liberal-leaning, previewed the new report in a blog post. The report itself will spell out the methodology. But the short version is that CBPP assumes that cuts the Ryan plan makes to particular budget categories — but that aren’t distributed among specific programs — would be imposed equally across all programs in any given category, including those not designed to help low-income Americans.
Using this method, CBPP calculates that the Ryan budget would cut $2.7 trillion from Medicaid and subsidies to help people buy private insurance, leaving 40 million people uninsured by 2024. It would cut food stamps by $137 billion over 10 years; Pell Grants by up to $125 billion; $385 billion from mandatory programs helping poor and moderate income Americans such as SSI; and so on.
The overall 69 percent figure is comparable to CBPP’s calculation that Ryan’s 2013 budget would get 66 percent of its cuts from programs for people with low or moderate incomes, and its calculation that Ryan’s 2012 budget would get 62 percent of its cuts for such programs. And so deep and harmful cuts to the safety net remain every bit as central to the GOP’s chief economic blueprint, despite the rising volume of GOP rhetoric about crafting a poverty agenda. No problem there, however: Ryan explicitly sells this budget as a means to expand opportunity, and claims its deep cuts to the safety net would “empower” those benefiting from it.
Update: I’m told that it’s not accurate to characterize the percentage of cuts as rising from previous budgets, because of differing baselines, though they are comparable, so I’ve edited the above to correct. The broader point — that 47 percenter-ism has as much of a hold over the GOP as ever, despite promises of a poverty agenda — obviously stands.
* ANOTHER SO-SO JOBS REPORT: The latest jobs numbers are in:
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 192,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment grew in professional and business services, in health care, and in mining and logging.
There are upward revisions of previous months, but they are modest:
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised from +129,000 to +144,000, and the change for February was revised from +175,000 to +197,000. With these revisions, employment gains in January and February were 37,000 higher than previously reported.
Regular reminder: Republicans — who are already tweeting madly about today’s numbers — used to support federal infrastructure spending to create jobs, before Obama was president.
* TWEET OF THE DAY, JOBS REPORT EDITION: Courtesy of Steven Dennis: “The federal government has 85,000 fewer employees than a year ago, per BLS.” #Obummer Big Gummint…
* THE ECONOMY COULD MATTER MOST IN 2014: Politico’s Ben White commits true heresy here, suggesting the economy could be what really matters in 2014, even as some continue to insist the election will be all about Obamacare, Obamacare, and Obamacare. Will that help Dems mitigate the damage by focusing on their economic agenda? Not necessarily, say Republicans:
Republicans mostly laugh off the Democrats’ latest plan to hold a series of show votes on raising the minimum wage, “paycheck fairness” for women and other issues. They say the public, especially in critical Senate races in GOP-leaning states such as Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina, will see through the efforts and lay the blame for any continued economic malaise squarely on the party that has controlled the White House for the past six years.
I’ve long argued that the economy will matter more than Obamacare to the fall elections — indeed, some Dem pollsters think views of the health law actually reflect views of the economy — but it is true that if the recovery continues to sputter, that could work against Dems.
* CENTRIST REPUBLICANS REJECT MINIMUM WAGE COMPROMISE: This, from the Hill, will surprise exactly no one:
Senate Republican centrists are reacting coolly to Sen. Susan Collins’s effort to reach a compromise on the minimum wage, imperiling progress on President Obama’s top economic agenda item.
The Hill report quotes Senators such as Dean Heller and Mark Kirk — who did compromise on unemployment insurance — as saying No to even a lower minimum wage hike. As noted the other day, no “compromise” hike is going to get the support of Senate Republicans or House Republicans in any case, so there’s no percentage in Dem leaders agreeing to lower the threshold.
* WHAT SCOTUS CAMPAIGN FINANCE DECISION MEANS: Adam Liptak talks to legal experts about what the McCutcheon ruling means, and they mostly agree: Its reasoning suggests further rulings striking down more limits on campaign donations are inevitable.
The question now: Whether the current ban on corporate contributions to individual candidates, and the limits on individual contributions to them, are set to fall next.
* GOP EMBOLDENED BY SCOTUS DECISION: And right on cue, the Wall Street Journal reports on the GOP’s next target, an end to limits on all donations to candidates and parties:
GOP lawyers and conservative advocates are discussing whether to bring lawsuits that would seek to permit companies and labor unions to donate directly to candidates for Congress and the White House; allow the Republican and Democratic parties to accept unlimited donations; and raise the current $10,000 cap on yearly donations to state political parties.
RNC has called the ruling a big victory for itself, and rightly so.
* A BIG VICTORY FOR OBAMACARE: Paul Krugman says progressives are being too cautious about the law’s long term prospects, because the big picture is that the seven million enrollments shows that the Rube Goldberg contraption that is Obamacare can, and is, working as intended:
The nightmare scenario has always been that conservatives would seize on technical problems to discredit health reform as a whole. And last fall that nightmare seemed to be coming true. But the nightmare is over…This thing is going to work. And, yes, it’s also a big political victory for Democrats. They can point to a system that is already providing vital aid to millions of Americans, and Republicans — who were planning to run against a debacle — have nothing to offer in response.
Some GOP Senate candidates have already shown they know their stance is becoming untenable, by insisting that of course they will offer their own (unspecified) reforms that would do what Obamacare does or by declining to condemn the Medicaid expansion in their states.
* BUT STILL LOTS MORE WORK TO DO: The Post editorial board reminds us that a major impediment to the law’s efforts to expand coverage remains the refusal of GOP-controlled states to opt in to the Medicaid expansion:
Republicans have refused to expand Medicaid programs under the ACA, even though the federal government will pay almost the entire cost, in perpetuity, to cover more poor Americans through the state-federal insurance scheme. If Republican leaders don’t like traditional Medicaid, they can take the money and cover poor people some other way. But it makes no sense to turn it down.
A handful of states have opted for their own versions of the expansion (getting the money while achieving distance from Obamacare), but if many continue to opt out, it could leave millions uncovered while exacerbating racial disparities in health coverage. This really would constitute (GOP-inspired) failure at one of the ACA’s central missions.