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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Over the past several months, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has attempted to rebrand himself from an austerity-obsessed weak link in Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign to the Republican Party’s foremost anti-poverty warrior (with limited success, at best).

But as Ryan’s latest “Path to Prosperity” budget plan makes clear, the House Budget Committee chairman’s priorities have not changed at all. Ryan is still committed to radically downsizing the government — and shafting the working Americans with whom he claims to empathize.

As in past years, Ryan’s plan is less of a budget and more of a “vision document.” (The Washington Post helpfully describes it as a “personal manifesto on government austerity from a man who has emerged as the GOP’s leading light on fiscal policy.”)

Among other proposals, the new Ryan plan once again suggests fully repealing the Affordable Care Act, converting Medicare into a block grant program for states (while aiming to privatize it in a decade), and slashing hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for food stamps, federal welfare programs, FEMA, Pell Grants, and federal pensions, among many other cuts (the details of which he largely leaves to Congress to sort out). Overall, the budget would shear more than $5 trillion in federal spending over the next decade (for a more detailed breakdown of the cuts, see Time’s helpful overview here).

While Ryan calls for steep cuts to programs that benefit working and middle-class Americans, he once again declines to ask the military or the wealthiest Americans to bear significant costs. In fact, he actually proposes cutting the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans, from 39.6 percent to 25 percent. Due to a combination of that unbalanced approach and the CBO’s revised deficit forecast, the former vice-presidential nominee failed to come up with enough cuts to balance the budget. Instead, Ryan promises that new revenue from “economic growth” will wipe out the deficit by 2024.

Like Ryan’s past plans, the 2015 budget displays a startlingly cruel worldview. It’s hard to justify, for example, stripping health insurance from millions of people in order to stave off an imminent debt crisis that — by Ryan’s own admission — doesn’t actually exist (indeed, we’re still waiting for budget scold Alan Simpson’s infamous debt bomb to detonate). Especially for a man who professes to view poverty as a genuine crisis.

It’s also politically unpalatable to an electorate that does not want to repeal Obamacare, and overwhelmingly opposes cuts to public education, Medicare, health insurance subsidies, and other programs that Ryan targets.

To be clear, Ryan’s budget has absolutely no chance of becoming law. Although House Republicans will be loath to vote for a bill containing such politically divisive measures — 10 members of the GOP majority voted against the 2014 Ryan plan (although, in fairness, at least four thought it was insufficiently extreme) — they will likely pass Ryan’s proposal for the fourth consecutive year. It will then die a swift death in the Senate.

Even though it will never be enacted, however, the plan from the GOP’s top budget expert provides a clear reminder of the Republican House majority’s priorities: Shrink the government (except for defense spending), refuse to raise even a penny of new revenue, and repeal Obamacare. Never mind the fact that the math doesn’t add up, and it will never actually be passed.

Ironically, just hours before Ryan announced his latest “vision document,” Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) — the last House Republican to offer a serious fiscal plan — announced his intention to retire at the end of this term. Weeks ago, Camp proposed a comprehensive tax reform plan that used actual numbers to propose actual changes to the system — and was instantly shunned by both parties for his trouble.

When Camp leaves Congress next year, his powerful position as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to go to — you guessed it — Paul Ryan.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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Copyright 2014 The National Memo
  • Lynda Groom

    Nothing new folks, lets move on to the next distraction. The Ryan plan is just pablum for the base voters, and maybe a little cash will roll into his campaign coffers.

  • Daniel Jones

    PAUL RYAN heading Ways and Means?

    God, that *is* a “taker”.

    • idamag

      Paul Ryan who went to school on Social Security Survivor Benefits. He got his, to h with the rest of the country.

  • latebloomingrandma

    I wonder how a meeting between Ryan and Pope Francis would go? Maybe the Pope would loose his cool and take the fool to the woodshed.

    • 1standlastword

      excommunication would suffice just fine

      • JSquercia

        Works for ME

  • Allan Richardson

    In the world of the “Simpsons” the Paul Ryan faction represents Mr. Burns.

    • Sand_Cat

      You’re much too kind.

  • jakenhyde

    Paul Ryan reminds me of a line from the song Henry The Eighth by Herman’s Hermits: Second verse, same as the first.

  • 1standlastword

    “When Camp leaves Congress next year, his powerful position as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to go to — you guessed it — Paul Ryan.”

    This means Paul Ryan gets to dictate taxation, tariffs, social security, unemployment benefits, Medicare, TANIF and foster care for the United States of America

    All these agencies are in his crosshairs!!!

    The future of poor and working class and middleclass American looks to become in serious jeopardy from this prediction

    • Independent1

      We can always hope that the voters wake up this coming election and bounce him out on the street.

  • JDavidS

    This lying little weasel is “the GOP’s leading light on fiscal policy”? Jesus, they’re in bigger trouble than I thought. This is a clown who’d have to take off his shoes to accurately count past ten. His “budgets” are filled with what I like to call “magic asterisks”…if something doesn’t add up, just insert a “magic asterisk” and add some gibberish like “to be determined at a later date” or my personal favourite “the numbers will work themselves out through proposed “savings””.
    I wouldn’t let this idiot run a church bingo.

  • dpaano

    This guy is one of the MOST useless guys EVER!!! Does he actually believe his budget will work? Does he not realize that we have to raise taxes in order to gain revenue. Our military, of which I’m a proud veteran, can be cut significantly without causing any problems…..there are fighter jets that we don’t need, ships that we don’t need, and an over abundance of other things in the wind that we could live without. As for cutting taxes on the wealthiest in this nation…..can ANYONE not see how stupid that is and how it would affect those of us who do the most spending? It’s just boggles my mind that he keeps getting re-elected. Let’s hope his State comes to their senses in the next election and kick his butt out!! He hasn’t had a good idea since…..well, never!

  • [email protected]

    the new Paul Ryan the same old idiot even worsat if he could get worst . he never fools me I know he can always get worse . just by opening his mouth

  • ChristoD

    When the hell are the non Kool-Aid drinkers going to accept the fact that the GOP, under the incredible ineptness called Dubya CREATED the Deficit problem by not paying for the Iraq war, and giving several tax breaks, primarily to the rich. Why should they be dictating solving the problem when THEY created it ! Screw them.

  • Charvi3

    First of all, Paul Ryan, is a socio psychopath…meaning…he was raised Catholic…then he wanted to find the real man within hisself…he started handing out novels written by a Russian born, woman…Ayn Rand, an Atheist of which he started teaching it to other when he taught classes…aside from what he was teaching on…he wants to only to please hisself and he has a disease called egoism…he is only looking for self-gratification…he doesn’t care about the middle class nor the poor or the needy…he is going to fail everytime…because first he wanted to take some of the Social Security monies that the American People both Republican and Democrats pay into it is only a “Trust Fund”…cannot touch it…when people are paying into the program…then he threaten the seniors which relate to both Republicans and Democrats with making cuts to Medicare….a program for Seniors or people that are handicapped paying for it….that is a no no…the is a real nut-case

  • Bob Williams

    I think that we need to compare Ryan’s budget to Obama’s budget. What? Obama has never prepared a budget? What about the last one? You mean “NEVER” like in “NEVER”? Oh, man – that is just wrong. Seriously wrong.

    But the good news is that Obama never missed a t-time or a fund-raising jaunt. That’s what is really important, anyway. Budgets? Who needs a steenkin’ budget. Just keep spending until China takes away our credit card.

    That’ll work.

    • latebloomingrandma

      Obama prepared his budgets. The do nothing Congress never passed it.

  • JSquercia

    Hey Paul you want to get new revenue from Economic GROWTH ;pass a JOBS program preferably One that will rebuild our crumbling Infrastructure .