This week, the GOP issued its annual budget proposal. It is a plan that flies directly in the face of all recommendations for responsible action. Unable to focus on what is needed to help the American economic system, a plan that includes both revenue generation and spending cuts, the republicans have returned to their wasteful program of looting public resources, raiding programs that help the poor and middle class, cutting taxes for the wealthy, and attacking solutions to current energy and climate problems.
Part #1: End Medicare, Affordable Health Care, Cut Medicaid
For years, the GOP has targeted Medicare. The program, which grants seniors a degree of security and medical assistance during old age, has been particularly critical in keeping many out of poverty during the recent great recession. But republicans seem to be happy to target any program within government that actually provides help to the less fortunate in order to transfer the largess to those who are already very well off. In the case of the Ryan Budget, the proposal again attempts to turn Medicare into a voucher program that would dump seniors into a predatory and privatized system.The result is that medical expenses for seniors would rise dramatically, increasing by as much as $6000 per year.
The GOP plan is also aimed directly at dismantling the Affordable Care Act. Demonizing the program from the beginning, primarily because it aids the uninsured and holds the insurance industry to a higher level of accountability, the GOP plan to remove the program would result in more than 30 million Americans being dropped from insurance roles. It would also continue the trend toward rapidly increasing medical expenses.
Finally, the Ryan plan intends to cut more than $800 billion from Medicaid over ten years. This would directly impact the most vulnerable members of society — the disabled. But it would also harm poor seniors who rely on Medicaid to supplement their support via Medicare.
Part #2: Cut Taxes for the Rich, Again
Following in the footsteps of the infamous Bush Tax Cuts, the Ryan plan pushes another 3 trillion dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy onto the backs of American citizens. This bid to increase the concentration of wealth at the top of the economic spectrum comes at the cost of harm to our seniors and requires wide-ranging cuts throughout the budget. On the chopping block include public roads and other infrastructure, science, alternative energy and education. These cuts are so deep that they endanger key infrastructure. For example, weather forecasting will likely be degraded and many of the nation’s bridges and roads will be at increasing risk of failure.
Part #3 Create a Requirement to Raise Taxes on the Poor and Middle Class
According to the Tax Policy Center, the Ryan Budget would reduce federal revenues by an additional $900 billion dollars per year (in addition to current deficits). Yet Ryan claims the budget is deficit neutral. So, in order to make up the gap, his budget would likely require closing a number of tax loopholes that benefit the poor and the middle class. Though Ryan has made no specific claims as to how this lost revenue would be made up, most rational analysts note that a rise in taxes on the poor and middle class is a likely result of the Ryan plan.
Part #5 Extend Subsidies to the Oil Industry While Cutting Alternative Energy
In addition to increasing unnecessary military spending, the Ryan budget extends more than $40 billion in subsidies to the oil industry. These subsidies come at a time when profits for the oil industry are at record levels. So Ryan’s proposal is simply to throw public money on top of private profits for his oil industry buddies. Meanwhile, as China prepares to eat the US solar energy industry for lunch and then jack the cost of solar panels worldwide, the Ryan budget slashes US public subsidies that provide a hope for a US future in solar manufacturing. The result, when combined with Chinese solar panel dumping, would be that the US solar industry will not exist within five years. Furthermore, the combination of republican budget cuts and Chinese dumping are likely to result in far less American innovation in this critical new technology.
Part #6 Sell off National Parks
The final insult inserted into the Ryan budget is a direct assault on the US park system. Ryan recommends selling public lands to private special interests who would, in turn, monetize these public treasures through the sale of their resources. Ryan’s plan flies in the face of Teddy Roosevelt’s vision for a national park system that husbanded the nation’s vast, but still limited, natural resources. It would also result in an America far less resilient to the impacts of resource depletion and climate change.
The Republican Moai Builders
Given all these myopic and decidedly unequal recommendations, one would not be surprised if the GOP recommended a new subsidized program to pay industry vast sums of money to construct enormous useless, yet self-gratifying, monoliths lining the coast so that future civilizations journeying to our shores could wonder at our stupidity, decadence, inequity, and wasteful use of resources.