Republican Budget Proposes Deficit Reduction At the Expense of Working Families and Seniors

This week, the House will consider the Republican budget proposal for fiscal year 2012. Budgets are about choices, and the Republican budget makes the wrong ones. Democrats believe we can reduce the deficit while also protecting investments that grow the economy and create jobs. It’s not a question of whether we should reduce the deficit, but how we reduce it. The Republican budget proposes we balance the budget on the backs of the working families and seniors by cutting important investments in our future, ending Medicare as we know it and dismantling Medicaid.

Editorial Boards across the country agree:

“[The Republican budget] ideas are not new. What [Ryan]offers is a steroidal version of the Republican playbook from the George W. Bush era: tax cuts for the rich, wink-and-nod regulation of Wall Street and a surrender of Americans' medical care to the insurance industry. We've been there, done that and ended up in the deepest hole since the 1930s.” [Lexington Herald, 4/10/11]

“Unfortunately, [the Republican] plan takes a hard whack at health care for the elderly -- shifting costs to individuals and the states… [Budget Committee Chairman Paul] Ryan says, ‘This isn't a budget. This is a cause.’ And his cause is an attack on the elderly.” [Mercury News, 4/10/11]

“[T]he changes in health care raise serious questions about the program's scope and fairness.... The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says, ‘A typical beneficiary would spend more for health care under the proposal.’ The news services say ‘considerably more.’ It takes no great leap of the imagination to see this as akin to a middle-class tax increase.” [Wichita Falls Times Record News, 04/09/11]

But instead of strengthening Medicare and Medicaid, the Republican budget shifts an ever-increasing percentage of health care costs onto seniors and puts at risk the coverage and the quality of care that millions of seniors receive in nursing homes. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office confirms that under the Republican proposal, seniors’ health care costs would significantly rise.

AARP agrees the proposal would hurt seniors: “[The Republican Budget] proposal, rather than tackling skyrocketing health care costs, would simply shift these costs onto the backs of people in Medicare.” [4/11/10]

And nearly 200 health economists and health care experts have called on Congress to reject the plan: “These cost shifts would burden all beneficiaries but they would most seriously injure the millions of elderly and disabled beneficiaries with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid but not much above official poverty thresholds. Shifting risks to vulnerable aged or disabled beneficiaries is ethically unacceptable.” [4/11/11]

Conservative economists agree the Republican budget does not address deficits and its economic predictions are unrealistic:

David Stockman, former Office of Management and Budget Director during the Reagan administration: "It doesn't address in any serious or courageous way the issue of the near and medium-term deficit… I think the biggest problem is revenues. It is simply unrealistic to say that raising revenue isn't part of the solution. It's a measure of how far off the deep end Republicans have gone with this religious catechism about taxes." [TPM, 4/11/11]

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Congressional Budget Office Director and economic advisor to John McCain and George W. Bush: “Ryan came under fire Tuesday for citing in his proposal a study by the conservative Heritage Foundation …The Heritage projections were rejected by numerous economists. Even Douglas Holtz-Eakin… who consulted with Ryan on the budget proposal, told The Huffington Post that the Heritage study was ‘implausibly optimistic.’” [Huffington Post, 4/11/11]

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