Reviews Are In On the GOP Budget

Reviews are in on the Republican budget introduced yesterday and they are not pretty.

Editorial boards agree the GOP budget will hurt our economic recovery and favors tax breaks for the wealthy at the expense of seniors, the middle class, working families, and the most vulnerable:

Washington Post:  Sleight-of-hand budgeting

“THERE IS NO credible path to deficit reduction without a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases. This is the fundamental conclusion of every responsible group that has examined the issue, most prominently the Simpson-Bowles commission, and it is the fundamental failure of the budget blueprint released Tuesday by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).”

“…No matter what deductions are curtailed, the benefit of the lower rates would flow overwhelmingly to the wealthiest Americans, while Mr. Ryan would take a machete to programs that help the least fortunate.”

“For make no mistake: Mr. Ryan’s plan envisions, though again does not spell out, draconian spending cuts.”

“…Mr. Ryan proposes a budget path that would leave government unable to fulfill essential functions. As the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis finds, by 2050 his budget would reduce federal spending for everything besides Social Security, health programs and interest payments to less than 4 percent of the gross domestic product, down from 12.5 percent in 2011. Since, as the CBO notes, ‘spending for defense alone has not been lower than 3 percent of GDP’ since World War II, and Mr. Ryan wants to increase defense spending, there would be essentially nothing left for the rest of government — nothing for education, for highways, for veterans, for low-income families, for the FBI.”

“Even in the short term, the Ryan cuts would be breathtaking. He would impose spending caps that would reduce domestic discretionary spending by $800 billion more over the next 10 years than the cuts agreed to as part of the debt-ceiling deal. Mr. Ryan argues that he would strengthen the safety net by transforming programs such as Medicaid and food stamps into block grants for the states. But the plan would cut Medicaid funding by one-fifth over the next decade, not to mention repealing the new health-care law’s expansion of Medicaid to those slightly above the poverty level.”

“Mr. Ryan is right about the risks posed by the nation’s mounting debt. But we think his lopsided approach is dangerously wrong for the country. The blank spaces in his plan suggest he knows that many Americans would think so too.”

NY Times: The Careless House Budget

“As he rolled out his 2013 budget on Tuesday, Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, correctly said that he and his fellow Republicans were offering the country a choice of two very clear futures. The one he outlined in his plan could hardly be more bleak.”

It is one where the rich pay less in taxes than the unfairly low rates they pay now, while programs for the poor — including Medicaid and food stamps — are slashed and thrown to the whims of individual states. Where older Americans no longer have a guarantee that Medicare will pay for their health needs. Where lack of health insurance is rampant, preschool is unaffordable, and environmental and financial regulation are severely weakened.”

“It vows to balance tax cuts for corporations and the rich by closing loopholes, but never lists the loopholes. It is, however, quite specific about cutting Medicaid by about 45 percent, leaving 19 million people without care, and eliminating plans to provide health insurance for 33 million who lack coverage now.”

“Worst of all, it undermines a hard-fought agreement Democrats and Republicans made last August to set spending targets for 2013. Under pressure from House conservatives, Mr. Ryan cut nearly $20 billion from spending levels set in the debt-ceiling pact, breaking faith with the Senate and potentially leading to a government shutdown this fall. Much of that reduction is likely to come from programs like Head Start, Pell grants for college students and state aid.”

“It also tries an end run around an agreement Republicans signed last year to reduce the deficit over 10 years with equal $55 billion annual cuts to military and domestic programs after the Congressional supercommittee failed to agree on a plan. Mr. Ryan wants to increase defense spending and shift all the cuts to domestic programs, which will probably include food stamps, the federal payroll and mortgage guarantees.”

“Over all, about half of Mr. Ryan’s $5 trillion in cuts over a decade would come from health care. His plan to convert Medicare to a ‘premium support’ system, though less damaging than last year’s proposal, still weakens a guarantee to the elderly and risks driving up costs for future beneficiaries.”

These extreme cuts and changes would greatly impede the nation’s economic recovery, and hurt those on the middle and lower economic rungs who suffered most from the recession. The contrast with President Obama’s budget, which raises taxes on the rich to protect vital programs while reducing the deficit, could not be more clear.”

USA Today: GOP budget hurts prospects for deficit deal

“But taken as a whole, the GOP plan reads less like a blueprint for action on deficit reduction than the latest marker thrown down in an endless game of posturing by both parties.”

The 2010 health care law would be repealed. Programs for the poor, such as Medicaid and food stamps, would suffer steep cuts. At the same time, the top individual and corporate tax rates would be cut from 35% to 25%, ostensibly funded by closing loopholes but with few details offered.”

What's most galling, however, is that the plan would violate the terms of the stopgap budget deal worked out last summer. It would breach the cap on defense spending and take money from other areas. It is hard to imagine a better way to undermine prospects for a broad long-term deficit deal than for one side to go back on its word.”

Baltimore Sun: Paul Ryan's song and dance

The $3.5 trillion spending plan the House budget chairman released Tuesday morning is a great deal like what Mr. Ryan and his tea-party-endorsed colleagues in the House offered last year...”

One could make a checklist: Tax cuts that favor the rich? Included. Drastic cuts to discretionary programs? Absolutely. Leave the Pentagon alone? Do you even have to ask?

“The congressman believes the nation can drastically lower tax rates — he would have just two income tax brackets of 10 percent and 25 percent — while slicing the deficit by $400 billion in the first year alone. How? Chiefly by closing some unstated tax loopholes and cutting heavily into spending in a way that he claims would juice the economy like some kind of experimental rocket fuel.”

“Sorry, but most Americans aren't buying into that con game. It would take closing a loophole like the mortgage interest rate deduction and a whole lot more big and beloved ones to achieve anything close to what Mr. Ryan is promising — along with truly brutal treatment of Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and other entitlement programs.”

“Mr. Ryan, on the other hand, holds onto the truly logic-defying belief that the nation can diet by eating the cake of tax cuts for the rich. That notion plays great in Republican strongholds, but others are bound to ask: Just who ends up footing the bill under the GOP budget plan? Clearly, it won't be the wealthiest among us.”

“…As the economy grows and the unemployment rate continues to fall, it's time the U.S. was put on a road to greater fiscal discipline. On that point, Republicans and Democrats ought to be able to agree. The problem is that the Ryan budget doesn't accomplish this. It's just another absolutist approach to the problem that only underscores his party's inflexibility and helps ensure that nothing of significance happens in 2012 and perhaps beyond.”