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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) latest budget proposal, which will be released on Tuesday, can be safely expected to follow his history of introducing legislation that includes steep cuts to safety-net programs to pay for increased defense funding and further tax cuts. But this year, his plan may be even more extreme.

In anticipation of Ryan’s upcoming budget – which will surely reflect his recent “War on Poverty” report – the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities offers a helpful preview of the 2012 vice-presidential nominee’s proposal, while examining the most serious flaws likely to plague the plan.

In his 2014 budget proposal, Ryan backed cuts to Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) – the program colloquially known as food stamps – and called for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s benefits. According to the CBPP, these cuts, which accounted for 72 percent of the budget’s total program cuts, would have “resulted in large increases in poverty and deprived many millions of affordable health insurance.”

And CBPP economists Sharon Parrott and Joel Friedman warn that Ryan’s new budget will be “as extreme as last year’s, if not more so,” even as they predict that the targeted programs might differ a bit from those included in the 2014 budget.

Assuming Ryan’s budget will maintain last year’s goal of balancing within the next decade, reversing sequestration cuts through increased defense funding, and maintaining current revenue levels, massive cuts to assistance programs are the only ways Ryan could partially achieve his goals.

Again: partially achieve. That is because the Congressional Budget Office deficit forecast, as CBPP points out, has worsened by an additional $1 trillion by 2024. If Ryan hopes to achieve any of his goals, he must first ensure that his proposed cuts meet the heightened inflation rates. Even the suggested cuts in his 2014 proposal cannot account for the projected inflation levels of 2024, which means that Ryan’s new budget must include additional hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts that are steeper than those in last year’s budget.

Imagining a budget, even one designed by Ryan, that includes more severe cuts to anti-poverty programs than those in the 2014 GOP-backed proposal is rather difficult. Considering that he avoids cuts to Medicare and Social Security altogether, it almost seems impossible.

That may explain why Ryan’s past budget proposals have been rather light on specifics, and why this year’s budget proposal will be similarly vague. He is going to have a tough time explaining politically palatable ways of actually achieving the cuts he calls for. After all, doing so would force him to address the consequences of the actual reductions.

As the CBPP notes, enacting Ryan’s 2014 budget would have resulted in increased rates of uninsured low- and middle-class Americans, 8 to 9 million more people forced off food stamp rolls, a $163 billion cut to civil service pensions and farm programs, and an additional $660 billion cut to other non-defense discretionary programs – many of which offer assistance to the poor and disabled. Expect more of the same in this week’s plan.

And while ordinary Americans suffer the wrath of Ryan’s budget proposal, wealthy Americans continue to prosper, due in no small part to his “dynamic scoring,” which posits that tax cuts for the wealthy will stimulate economic growth, which will then reduce the deficit. The primary problem with this idea is that no evidence exists to support a direct correlation between massive tax cuts and deficit reduction or economic growth.

If Ryan follows the basic outline of his 2014 plan, then his 2015 budget will surely be more severe. That is, of course, assuming that he accounts for the changing inflation rates. In the case that this budget disregards the CBO’s projections, however, his 2015 budget will represent little more than an outdated and unreasonable approach to maintaining current revenue levels and reversing sequestration cuts in defense funding. In either case, the American people lose.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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  • Lynda Groom

    After his last couple of efforts there is no where to go but further into fantasy. Fortunately the next two years of spending has already been reached by bi-partisan argeement. All these efforts at budget proposals are just for the bases to embrace and worry about.

  • stormkite

    It is good to be totally sociopathic.

  • Budjob

    Individuals such as this FREAK,won’t be happy until EVERYONE in this ONCE GREAT country,with the exception of the privileged one percent are living in abject poverty!!

  • Budjob

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank the electorate of Wisconsin for thrusting this imbecile on the American public! It would seem that every weirdo republican seeking office is deemed as electable by Wisconsin standards!

  • Grannysmovin

    Ryan has a degree in economics, but has he ever used that degree in a business environment. Why didn’t he become CFO of the family businessRyan Construction or of his wife’s family business.

  • jerseyana

    Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) is a two facer loser, who tramples on women’s rights at a minimum. He has no proven solutions from the real world and Ryan does not live in this real world!

  • paulyz

    I suppose the Liberal way would be to just keep Debt SPENDING for votes, ignoring the (eventual) interest on our National Debt, which will eat up all of our tax-revenue?

    • Lola Johnson

      The debt was caused by 2 unfunded wars, a huge tax cut, and an unfunded prescription program for seniors, all coming to you courtesy of the “conservatives”.. We cannot take Ryan seriously as long as he continues to push tax cuts for the wealthy, who are already gouging the public.

      • rothgar


        Remember the deficit is the difference between tax revenues and government expenses. Since lowering marginal tax rates to bare bones levels has not produced sustainable real growth (GDP increase minus Federal Deficit was not greater than zero through most of the last 34 years except it might be now given the austere non-DOD budgets). There were a couple years in the late 1990’s under Bill Clinton but otherwise no net growth.

        I suggest a shockingly conservative idea – let’s return to tax rates that we know kept money circulating and the US economy growing robustly. Let’s try Eisenhower policies.


        • dpaano

          Rothgar…..that would be just TOO logical for Paul to understand. They seem to forget that if people don’t have money to spend because they’ve pared it back to barebones…..they don’t buy consumer products. And, if they don’t buy consumer products, we don’t have money coming in from taxes. I guess that just makes no sense to them because they’re so lamebrained!

          • Paul Bass

            Paulyz NOT Paul. 🙂 But thanks for your comments!

    • dpaano

      Paulyz: If you don’t understand what you’re talking about, and you don’t, please don’t continue spouting your BS. I mean, seriously, you actually believe what FAUX News tells you? Actually, it’s the Republicans who are spending the most money…..but, hey, they’re getting it back from Adelson, the Koch’s, etc. And, you can also look at Issa, who’s spending our hard-earned tax money on his ridiculous committees researching things that have already been settled, and then there’s also Cruz, who cost us how many billions of dollars with his “government stoppage” to appease his tantrum. So, who’s spending all the money here……

    • Bill

      A National Debt created by the GOP, your the only one ignoring the facts.

    • ralphkr

      Well, paulyZ, since it was proven beyond all doubt that the best, if not the only, way to combat a poor economy is through heavy deficit spending by government. Roosevelt proved this in the 30s by doubling the GDP and halving unemployment by the end of 1939. We would have gotten their sooner except FDR listened to the Republican austerity morons and cut way back on deficit spending in 1937 at which point our economy nose-dived and unemployment sky-rocketed but, fortunately, FDR had the political power to reinstate deficit spending and the economy flourished. Also do not forget, paulyz, that all through WW2 deficit spending and the economy sky-rocketed.

  • latebloomingrandma

    Well, Mr. Ryan, that past decade of tax cuts for the wealthy did not stimulate economic growth, and only made the rich richer. Perhaps you have some ‘splaining to do.

  • dpaano

    Why does this idiot keep putting out unrealistic budgets that no one will EVER agree to? He keeps wasting his time on budgets that will go no further than the Senate. Even if the Senate were to accept them, the President certainly would veto them! I can’t believe he ACTUALLY thinks that austerity is the answer to our problems…’s actually the CAUSE of our problems. But, I guess that’s just too logical for him to consider!

    • JDavidS

      I think it’s just something the adults send him to do to keep him occupied. It keeps him from getting under foot.

      • Bill

        Are there adults in the GOP ?

  • ExRadioGuy15

    I call Mr. Ryan a Fascist psychopath…does anyone have an intelligent rebuttal to that sad fact? In fact, every Conservative Republican is a Fascist psychopath. They adhere all of the 14 defining characteristics of Fascism, via their actions, and their actions are also based in psychopathology….
    It’s well past time for GOP Progressives and Moderates to get over their fear, ignorance and cognitive dissonance and vote for the group of politicians who are now the GOP Progressives and Moderates of yesteryear—Democrats…

  • Pamby50

    Not only is his budget a piece of crap, it also wants to repeal the ACA. What a joke.