Rep. Paul Ryan has figured out a way to balance the budget: Give corporations and wealthy people tax breaks they don’t need while aggressively cutting health and social programs that middle and lower-income Americans (who, according to this video on the appalling extent of wealth inequality in this country, comprise the majority) do.
The House GOP’s budget proposal, in a nutshell, offers more of what we’ve come to expect from Republicans and entirely ignores the fact that voters resoundingly rejected these ideas in last year’s election. Included in the plan are calls for lower tax rates, less spending and—of course—the repeal of most of Obamacare.
Basically, the budget works out great if you’re wealthy. But for the majority of Americans? Not so much.
Ryan has been releasing an annual plan to sledgehammer U.S. spending for years now, but this time, the mighty hammer falls with a bit of a tailwind. Our deficits are already going down, by a lot. First was the Budget Control Act of 2011, which scheduled $900 billion of cuts over the next ten years. Second was the Fiscal Cliff Deal, which raised taxes on family income over $450,000. Third was the sequester, which cuts another $1.2 trillion—half from defense, half from non-defense—over the next decade.
Ryan pockets all of those savings. And he goes further. Much further. He repeals Obamacare. He cuts federal support for Medicaid. He cuts another $1 trillion from “mandatory spending”, which is a deceptively anodyne catch-all for mostly (a) cash assistance to the unemployed, low-income, and veterans, and (b) retirement programs for vets and federal employees.
But this budget is as notable for what it cuts as for what it doesn’t cut. Social Security, defense, and Medicare—together making up about half of the federal budget—would scarcely be cut at all. After all, it’s hard to win a Republican election if you abandon old voters and the defense industry. As for health care and cash support for the poor? That’s where the hammer hits.