Republican Budget Preview

As we wait with baited breath for Rep. Paul Ryan to release the Republican budget, it looks like it’ll be more of the same. Just yesterday, we pointed out that the Budget Committee Chairman told the Wall Street Journal: “I wouldn’t expect any big surprises.” And boy was he right! It’s clear that this budget will provide a good dose of more of the same fuzzy math and ambiguous - but DEEP - spending cuts. So here’s a sneak peak of what it looks like to balance the budget in 10 years solely focused on spending cuts:

The math doesn’t add up:

“[Rep. Paul Ryan has] promised House Republicans that his budget will balance itself in a decade — instead of three, as his earlier budgets did. But he's also promised that his plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system wouldn't effect anyone over the age of 55. Paul Ryan simply cannot do both of those things.” [The Atlantic, 3/5/13]

More gimmicks & broken promises:

“…if you look beyond the rhetoric and focus on the policy, House Republicans are proposing much harsher spending cuts this year than they did last year. On fiscal issues, the party has moved far to the right since the election.  They’re helped in that effort by the “fiscal cliff” deal, which added more than $600 billion in tax revenues to the bottom line. But that’s not nearly enough to get them to balance by 2024. And so they’re going to need to propose much deeper cuts than in their previous budgets. Ryan is reportedly considering breaking the GOP’s promise to keep Medicare unchanged for everyone over age 55.” [Washington Post, 3/5/13]

“Ryan declined to discuss policy changes under consideration, including accelerating measures that would end Medicare’s guarantee of open-ended coverage. Last year’s GOP budget delayed Medicare changes until 2023.  [Washington Post, 3/4/13]

Marc Goldwein, policy director at the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget: “Last year’s [Ryan] budget maintained the sequester almost in its entirety – the exception being a portion of the sequester for 2013 only. That partial repeal in 2013 would have almost no effect on whether the budget is balanced in 2022 or 2023 (only interest payments). Last year’s budget needed the sequester to hit its aggressive fiscal targets, and this one will as well.” [Washington Post, 3/6/13]

On the backs of seniors, women, children and the most vulnerable:

“To be sure, I expect Ryan’s new blueprint to be another exercise in faith-based budgeting, a duplicitous document that pretends once more that taxes don’t need to rise as the baby boomers retire and we double the number of people on Social Security and Medicare (though Ryan will quietly bank Obama’s recent tax hikes on top earners). It will thus rely on magic asterisks while ravaging government, save for programs serving seniors and defense.” [Matt Miller, The Washington Post, 3/6/13]

But to achieve that without tax increases or crimping national security, House Republicans would likely have to cut deeply into Medicare benefits, eviscerate discretionary spending, or rig their budget numbers in a way that undermines their credibility. Each choice could alienate voters—and refiguring Medicare has already sparked concerns a week ahead of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin unveiling the Republican budget plan for fiscal 2014.” [Fiscal Times 3/7/13]

“So, in assessing the budget that the chairman will release this week, the issue is not whether it's harsher than last year's proposal but whether it continues to adhere to the same extreme approach that he has embraced in prior budgets.”[Huffington Post, 3/5/13]

So again, there is absolutely no way to balance the budget in 10 years without deep cuts that will target seniors, place the burden on the middle class, our most vulnerable communities, and obstruct  our economic recovery. But that doesn’t seem to stop Rep. Ryan from holding to a  Republican right-wing deal to balance the budget by any means necessary except working with Democrats towards balanced and bipartisan solutions that put our nation back on a fiscally sustainable path through a combination of spending cuts and revenues.