Ryan Budget Slashes Safety Net on ‘Path to Prosperity’

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House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., holds up a copy of his budget plan entitled "The Path to Prosperity," Tuesday, March 20, 2012, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Rep. Paul Ryan holds up a copy of his budget plan entitled "The Path to Prosperity," during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Remember the controversy last year over Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) 2011 budget that many believed would signal the end of Medicare? Earlier this week, the House Budget Committee chairman released his new budget plan, entitled “The Path to Prosperity.” Over the next 10 years, Ryan’s plan would cut spending by $5.3 trillion more than Obama’s proposed plan and overhaul the tax code by replacing the six current brackets with two — a top bracket of 25 percent (as opposed to today’s 35 percent) and a lower bracket of 10 percent. While Medicare and Medicaid get a trim, it’s not mainly about Medicare this time. This time it’s about cutting programs for the poor.

The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein broke down the proposed spending cuts in a WonkBook blog post.

Over the next decade, Ryan plans to spend about 16 percent less than the White House on “income security” programs for the poor — that’s everything from food stamps to housing assistance to the earned-income tax credit. (Ryan’s budget would authorize $4.8 trillion between 2013 and 2022; the White House’s would spend $5.7 trillion.) Compared with Obama, Ryan would spend 25 percent less on transportation and 13 percent less on veterans. He’d spend 6 percent less on “General science, space, and basic technology.” And, compared with the White House’s proposal, he’d shell out 33 percent less for “Education, training, employment, and social services.”

Still, the spending cuts don’t go far enough for some. Tea Party Republicans said that they weren’t sure they would vote for it and the conservative Club for Growth rejected the budget yesterday, saying it takes too long to balance the budget (by 2040) and violates the Budget Control Act by ending automatic spending cuts. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum told Glenn Beck that although he thought it was a “great blueprint,” he would prefer a plan that cut spending more quickly. Mitt Romney called it “a bold and exciting effort.”

Some call Ryan’s plan a kind of reverse Robin Hood — slashing the safety net and passing on the savings to the rich. New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait writes:

Poor people, or people who have a family member with a serious medical condition, come in for special abuse here. The Republican budget would repeal the Affordable Care Act, which provides health insurance coverage to 30 million people, and replace it with nothing. On top of that, it would absolutely slash Medicaid and the childrens’ health insurance plan, eliminating coverage from 14-27 million more people…

The Post‘s Dana Millbank says it’s not just about saving money. He says Ryan believes that hurting the poor is really the best way to help them in the long run. He writes:

“Ryan’s justification was straight out of Dickens. He wants to improve the moral fiber of the poor. There is, he told the audience at the conservative American Enterprise Institute later Tuesday, an ‘insidious moral tipping point, and I think the president is accelerating this.’ Too many Americans, he said, are receiving more from the government than they pay in taxes.

After recalling his family’s immigration from Ireland generations ago, and his belief in the virtue of people who ‘pull themselves up by the bootstraps,’ Ryan warned that a generous safety net ‘lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency, which drains them of their very will and incentive to make the most of their lives. It’s demeaning.’

This view, that there is a culture of poverty, is certainly not a new idea. But it’s not clear that it will resonate with Americans in this election year. A Gallup poll released in November indicates a growing share of people have lost faith in the American Dream. The New York Times reports that 41 percent said that there was not much opportunity in America, up from 17 percent in 1998.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1423224144 Susan MacDonnell

    OMG is all I can say to Ryan’s desire to build the moral fiber of the poor. He and so so many of his buddies truly believe that the playing field for African Americans over the past 150 years has been the same playing field that white immigrants have played on? What la la land American have you been living in Ryan? It’s very possible that African American families, in general, have a stronger moral fiber and more resiliency and determination to survive and to make progress, than most white American families. If they didn’t, one of two things would be true– even MORE African American families would be in desperate straits then is the case now, or they would have risen up against white American is widespread violence. It’s time for right wing to read up on what life has really been like for blacks over the past century and a half… start with Slavery By Another Name and The New Jim Crow.

  • Wally

    The Ryan budget is the product of a peculiar form of mental illness.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Deborah-M-Budd/1690978840 Deborah M. Budd

    As many great thinkers have said (including Samuel Johnson, Pearl S. Buck, Mahatma Gandhi and Hubert H. Humphrey, to name just a few), a society’s greatness is measured by how it treats or serves its weakest and most vulnerable members. While we may have created a “culture of poverty,” it’s difficult to perform wholesale cuts without harming those who truly need assistance. So many “working poor” families struggle NOT to go on welfare; slicing children’s health insurance alone would be horribly damaging to these families. The reason I switched to the Democratic party is because of the escalating rhetoric on the right against compassionate government. Everyone in Congress needs to live for a month on the income of a family on the edge of poverty. Maybe then we’d get some practical AND compassionate legislation. 

  • canyonman

    Incredible!! This jerk is so out of touch with the reality of what it means to be poor that he should be made to spend a year living with one of the millions of American families who live in extreme poverty. Ryan and his reactionary counterparts in Congress obviously believe that the poor deserve to be poor and should be punished for it. No one promoting this austerity for the poor has the least concept of what it means to live in poverty.

  • canyonman

    Nor does he he have a clue about the political and economic system which has caused the widespread and rapidly increasing poverty in this, the most wealthy nation in the world.

  • http://profiles.google.com/brad.madison Brad Spencer

    The Republicans do everything they can to allow the rich to underpay labor, do everything they can to let the rich ship jobs overseas,  do everything they can to remove protections for workers from harm, and then have the audacity to claim, after making work scarcely remunerative  and potentially destructive, that the workers are at fault.  But the rich?  Oh, the rich need to have incentives.  Ever more and more incentives.  Which means the rich are to get a greater share of the fruits of the labor of those who work and are to pay a lesser share of the costs of government. 

    The first three words of the US Constitution are “We the people.”   Then (when it was written) and now “we the people” do the work.  The Republicans are flat-out against those who do the work.  When will it be recognized that the Republicans are enemies: domestic?

    This has been going on since Reagan, at least (and the attitude was there before the 20th century began.)  Look at how the position of the US relative to the rest of the world has declined since Reagan.  This is “because of,” not “in spite of.”  Reduce the wealth and well-being of the majority of the country and you reduce the wealth and well-being of the country.  Even as those who do it get richer they destroy the foundations of us all – including of themselves.  For their own good TAX THEM MORE.  And for the rest of us, too.

  • Mirendy

     Well put!!!

  • Annie Leineweber

    Prov. 29:7. The righteous is concerned for the rights
    of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern.

  • Schindlingeric

    Ryan offers this pile of rubbish and then denies that there is class warfare !!! This guy should live on  $7.50 a hour for just 6 months…then he can rewrite his budget !

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Linda-Rolf/100000571423135 Linda Rolf

    Ryan is advocating even more prosperity for the elites while running roughshod on the backs of ordinary Americans!  Say no to Republicans!

  • Unsanitorial

    The Republicans have Democrat accomplices.
    The duopoly is one party in pleasing Oligarchy.
    To believe voting a straight Democratic Party ticket will solve injustices caused by inequality is self-deception. Repeating that mantra is crude partisanship.
    Oligarchy picks the candidates and aids the ones they like best.
    Only a People’s movement of fervent activism can temper these tyrannies.
    Power concedes nothing without strong resistance.
    Voting alone is inadequate.
    Campaign Finance Reform alone will always be circumvented as long as wealth and income remain polarized.

  • Unsanitorial

    Ryan knows better. His are nihilist talking  points. His masters are going to the store in a few minutes and he’s wagging his tail hoping they’ll bring him back a treat. I’ve seen Democrat pooches do the same thing with much more allure. One Congress united in graft: Thank you ‘invisible hands.” 

  • Unsanitorial

    Ryan’s Insidious Moral Tipping Point: The best waitresses get 10% max.

  • Jae

    He has been supported by govt funding (SS survivor’s benefits) when he was younger. He has left those days behind him. He’s got his. He has no concept of paying it forward. It is sooooo sad.

  • Lindi

    Yes. let’s tax the rich for they are in strong need of moral fiber (as are the politicians)! Charles Dickens would be so very proud!

  • Lindi

    Perhaps we need an outside agency to create and administer campaign finance reform since the recipients of all the “contributions” are unable and unwilling to police themselves. We need an enforcer who is incorruptible. While we are at it let’s get rid of the lobbyists since they are not working in the American people’s best interests. We have to remind them from time to time that it is OUR government and they are working for us. Lastly, let’s put the kibosh on insider trading since this is ILLEGAL for the rest of us. Maybe, when all this has passed, we will get a higher caliber of elected official who will work for the good of this country and it’s people.

  • Lindi

    Not mental illness but moral depravity.

  • Lindi

    He worked in his dad’s construction business. He wasn’t an economist. His ignorance and arrogance area dangerous combination.

  • Lindi

    There should be demonstrations and poor people should go and testify to congress on the quality (or lack of) of their lives. It seems like the only demographic Ryan forgot to burden in his immodest proposal were the wealthy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sunny.pacalolo Sunny Pacalolo

    To the Ryans of this world, it would be so much easier if the entire herd of working poor and just outright poor would evaporate into thin air. The problem is not the cost of wars and bank bailouts, foreign aid aka bribes to heads of govt. in far away places rich with minerals, but rather the jobless, homeless and hungry. Once thriving and contributing members of society, they had the audacity to lose their jobs or get sick. ” We’ll have none of that ” Now if these folks were banks, they would receive sympathy and pity and trillions in taxpayers bailouts. After all, corporations are people, too, right Mr. Ryan ?