Thursday, April 07, 2011

Oh, Really?

Yesterday, I pointed out some of the fine print in Rep. Ryan's "courageous" plan to balance the budget. Today, Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times looks at some of that fine print.

McManus manages to talk out of both sides of his mouth, but at least he does recognize that Ryan's program is defective insofar as it proposes all sorts of deep cuts, especially when it comes to taxes. That's why it takes so long for Ryan's proposed plan to bring the budget into balance. In the mean time, however, Ryan's plan does accomplish what conservatives have long dreamed of: the end of Medicare.

Ryan has opted for low taxes. On that count, he's the most orthodox of conservative Republicans. He doesn't just want to keep George W. Bush's tax cuts for upper-income taxpayers forever; he also wants to cut the top individual tax rate from 35% to 25%, paid for by — well, he doesn't say. He'd repeal an upper-income surtax in Obama's healthcare law. And he'd lower the corporate tax rate (a goal Obama shares).

The one thing he doesn't propose is increasing any taxes to help close the deficit. (That's one reason his budget doesn't bring revenues and outlays into balance until at least 2030.) He believes in the supply-side article of faith: Lower taxes will solve every economic ill.

With no increases in tax revenue on the table, Ryan balances the budget with exactly one tool: deep cuts in domestic spending (though he spares the defense budget).

And, of course, one convenient source for those deep cuts is Medicare. The irony isn't lost on McManus:

...he also takes aim at Medicare, the health insurance program that covers everyone who reaches the age of 65. It's here that Ryan has been praised for his courage at taking on one of the third rails of American politics — although almost everyone who has ever looked at the federal budget (including Obama and Ryan) agreed long ago that the deficit can't be mastered without controlling the growth in Medicare costs.

This presents a potential dilemma for Ryan and his Republican colleagues, who spent much of last year denouncing Obama for trying to reduce future Medicare spending in his healthcare law. Now they have to explain why it's right for Republicans to squeeze Medicare when it was wrong for Democrats to do it. (Short answer: Obama did it to help pay for "Obamacare"; the GOP's doing it to cut the deficit, a nobler cause in its view.)

Hey! It's a conservative's wet dream: lower taxes for the wealthy and no safety net for the poor. It just has to be packaged right.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, Mr. Ryan and his cohort have the packaging part well in hand, thanks to a White House anxious to claim the right-of-center and Democrats who seem to enjoy being beaten and beaten up.

What a country.

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Blogger shrimplate said...

People will still get sick, but withour Medicare payments hospitals, doctors, nurses, and thousands of others will have to suffer vastly lower incomes.

So it's even betterer. This will help to destroy that part of the American middle class that provides healthcare.

6:09 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Excellent point, one which no doubt is being seen as a feature, not a bug.


1:11 PM  

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