You’ve got to hand it to Mitt Romney and fellow Republicans. They’re bold, in-your-face, and generally honest about their vision for America. Their agenda was made ever more clear in Romney’s vice-presidential pick, Congressman Paul Ryan. Ryan is the conservative Republican economic go-to guy, responsible for the Republican-controlled House of Representative’s budget plan. He’s powerful, articulate, and charismatic. Romney endorsed Ryan’s budget just days after its passage along party lines. Ryan’s budget is spot-on the clearest insight into Republicans’ priorities and values, and what we should expect under a “President Romney.” It’s been heralded as “bold” and “courageous” by Republican leaders, millionaires, and conservative think tankers. But for the average Bitterrooter… well, judge for yourself.
For starters, take taxes. Under Ryan’s budget plan, Romney would have paid less than 1% in taxes last year! If you’re a millionaire you should be licking your chops ’cause most of the $4 trillion in tax cuts will go to the rich and corporations. It eliminates pesky taxes on capital gains, dividends, and interest. And as Romney will remind you, “Corporations are people too!”. So corporations, just like Charles Schwab, Warren Buffet, Bill Clinton, and Mitt Romney, will pay much, much less. So much less that the Tax Policy Center estimates the Ryan budget would add $4.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years. So much for conservative fiscal sanity.
Ryan and Romney propose to “pay” for these tax cuts by eliminating tax loopholes and deductions, yet won’t state specifics. Why? Because the deduction culprits would be biggies like the home mortgage interest deduction and charitable contributions. Thus mum’s the word. You get the picture on taxes. You and I once again hold the bag, hoping for “trickle down economic fairy dust.”
Now for a Ryan budget brouhaha: Medicare. Actually it’s Medicare madness. Make no mistake, it ends Medicare as we know it. It simply ends Medicare as a guaranteed coverage benefit. If you’re 56 or older it won’t directly affect you. It raises the eligibility age gradually to 67. That’s fair to me. Unfortunately it turns Medicare into a voucher program and leaves seniors on their own if the “voucher” doesn’t cover their healthcare costs. There’d be no limits on out-of-pocket costs seniors would pay in voucherized Medicare. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates it may leave seniors on average with over $6000 in extra costs per year! Just imagine you’re 55 and will be voucherized. If you hope to live to 85 (about 20 years in Medicare) you’d need an extra $120,000 in retirement savings to cover Ryan’s/Romney’s added healthcare costs! Good luck and start saving.
Ryan’s budget takes a broad ax, not a scalpel, to transportation, infrastructure, education, technology, space, job training, and social services. His cuts would demolish our chances of updating and repairing an aging infrastructure, like water systems, bridges, electrical grids, and transportation networks. It would damage a healing economy, stifle job growth, and likely result in higher taxes at state and local levels as they try to offset the $100s of billions in federal cuts.
Guess who loses the most in Ryan’s budget so that millionaires like Romney can pay 1% in taxes under the Republican “dream budget”? Yep, the low income folks. Those with small voices in Congress, and even smaller bank accounts. Over 60% of the proposed cuts by Ryan come from programs helping the poor. These cuts are so draconian that the Catholic bishops protested Ryan’s budget plan, saying it “will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors.” Ouch.
Speaking of low income, seniors, and health insurance, did you know that Medicaid is the primary health coverage for nursing home residents requiring long term care? That the elderly and disabled account for about 2/3 of Medicaid spending? These folks are good people, often in dire health condition, living respectable lives with amazing life histories. I work with them and I love it. They’re often not physically powerful, certainly not politically powerful. Too often vulnerable to the budget cutting swords of politicians. And what does Ryan propose to cut by 20% over 10 years in his budget? Medicaid. Shameless, but open about Republican priorities and values.
Are these the bold and courageous spending and tax proposals we need? The Ryan budget plan, endorsed by the Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, speaks volumes about the values and priorities that today’s Republicans stand for. Paul Ryan is the perfect VP pick for Romney for he crystallizes the conservative vision, in great specificity and detail, in the Republicans’ budget plan, dubbed the “Path to Prosperity.” We’ve been on that path before under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. It didn’t work. It was just trickle down fairy dust. If we were to get on that path again, let’s hope for a fork in the trail, and… Make a run for it!
Van P. Keele