The Ryan budget is a remarkable document: all of its budget cuts hammer working class families, seniors, and students — while all of its tax cuts go straight to millionaires. It does almost nothing to deal with the deficit, yet still manages to deal a death blow to virtually every member of the working middle class and everyone trying to work their way into it. It is especially hard on seniors and the most vulnerable in society in the midst of the toughest economic times since the Great Depression, doing serious economic damage to anyone who isn’t a millionaire, oil company, or Wall Street bank. The good news, for those who are millionaires? They get so many economic benefits it will be hard to keep track of them all.
Let’s start with the deficit itself. According to a new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report, the actual deficit reduction in the Ryan plan would be only an average of $15 billion a year over the next 10 years. If we end up at a consistent 2.8 percent unemployment rate in spite of all the economic devastation this budget would bring to the middle class (which would be the lowest unemployment since the peak years of the 1950s), get out of the wars we are in pretty quickly, start no new wars or humanitarian “police actions,” have the kind of income growth we haven’t seen since the 1960s, and have no big terrorist attacks or natural disasters we have to deal with, the Ryan budget theoretically gets us to a balanced budget by about 2040.
Great. I can get to a balanced budget a lot faster than that, and do it without dismantling Medicare and Medicaid, and without taking an axe to Pell Grants, Head Start, and meals for shut-in seniors and hungry children. Heck, Jan Schakowsky’s plan balances the entire budget except for interest payments on the national debt in five years. You can easily balance the budget in less than 10 years, even including those interest payments, simply by cutting the waste in military spending, reforming the government contracting procedures, ending tax loopholes for investment bankers and offshore companies, ending subsidies to oil companies and big agribusinesses, taxing speculative financial trades, and having millionaires pay taxes at the same rate they did under Ronald Reagan.
The Ryan budget has nothing — not a single frickin’ thing — to do with cutting the federal deficit. It is all about income redistribution, simple as that. If you take away the budget savings Ryan claims from projecting that the wars we are in will wind down soon, he has $4.3 trillion in budget cuts and $4.2 trillion in tax cuts. And I bet you can guess which fact comes next: the budget cuts are targeted almost 100 percent at programs that help low-income families and the working middle class, while the tax cuts are almost entirely directed toward the wealthiest 10 percent. In fact, that comment on taxes is an understatement: Citizens for Tax Justice has an analysis showing that 90 percent of Americans will see their taxes go up under the Ryan budget, because the tax breaks his bill calls for actually total more than $4.1 trillion. The bottom 80 percent would pay $1,700 more in taxes under Ryan’s plan, while the top 1 percent (those making more than $460,000 dollars per year) would pay more than $211,000 less on average. As the folks at CTJ say, “It is difficult to design a tax plan that will lose $2 trillion over a decade while requiring 90% of taxpayers to pay more. But Congressman Ryan has met that daunting challenge.”