Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ryan, part 2



It's time to remind ourselves of the drastic nature of the Paul Ryan-designed Republican budget. This is what Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said a few months ago about the Paul Ryan budget:

The new Ryan budget is a remarkable document — one that, for most of the past half-century, would have been outside the bounds of mainstream discussion due to its extreme nature. In essence, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse — on steroids.  It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history).  It also would stand a core principle of the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission’s report on its head — that policymakers should reduce the deficit in a way that does not increase poverty or widen inequality.
Specifically, the Ryan budget would impose extraordinary cuts in programs that serve as a lifeline for our nation’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens, and over time would cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their health insurance or become underinsured. It would also impose severe cuts in non-defense discretionary programs—much deeper than the across-the-board cuts ("sequestration") that are scheduled to take place starting in January — thereby putting core government functions at still greater risk.  Indeed, a new Congressional Budget Office analysis that Chairman Ryan himself requested shows that, after several decades, the Ryan budget would shrink the federal government so dramatically that most of what it does outside of Social Security, health care, and defense would essentially disappear.
It's important to remember that the main reason the Paul Ryan budget makes such draconian cuts is to offset huge new tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. It's also important to remember that this budget was endorsed by the entire Republican caucus in the House of Representatives. And now it has been effectively endorsed by the Republican presidential nominee. Although Romney might suggest that he doesn't support every aspect of the Ryan budget, in the past he has endorsed it, hook, line and sinker.

Here's what Romney said about the Ryan budget back in March:
I'm very supportive of the Ryan budget plan. It's a bold and exciting effort on his part and on the part of the Republicans and it's very much consistent with what I put out earlier. . . . .  I applaud it. It's an excellent piece of work and very much needed.
And Paul Ryan said  around the same time that he thought Romney would enact most elements of his budget.

Choosing Paul Ryan for VP is obviously the most ringing endorsement yet of the Ryan budget. You don't pick the author of the Ryan budget to run with you on a national ticket unless you think very highly of his work. The Ryan budget is Paul Ryan's main claim to fame. It's the only thing Paul Ryan is nationally known for. Paul Ryan was not chosen for his brilliant oratorical skills or foreign policy expertise or heartwarming personal story. He was chosen because he is the GOP budget mastermind. And Romney must run on his endorsement of Ryan's radical proposals. Polls show that when these proposals are explained in detail--beyond such platitudes as cutting wasteful spending and reducing taxes--people do not favor very much of the Ryan plan at all. People don't want to change the basic structure of Medicare. They want to increase, not decrease, the top marginal tax rates. Yet the Republican Party is now wholly committed to these and other unpopular features of the Ryan plan.

A friend of mine suggested that this election in some ways resembles 1996, when Bill Clinton's path to re-election was made a lot smoother by the Republicans' selection of a weak challenger like Bob Dole. It might be starting to resemble 1964 even more, when the Republicans chose a candidate so far outside the mainstream, that most people could not support his ideas. That is the path the Republicans seem headed down this year. I'm not saying that this year's election is going to be a 1964-like landslide. The economy is still too fragile, and the president not popular enough, to predict that. All I'm suggesting is that the Republicans are traveling in a direction that the majority is not likely to want to follow.


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