House and Senate conferees are negotiating differences in their respective budget resolutions with the hope of a compromise by Dec. 13. They didn’t specify which year. House Republicans are advancing the latest iteration of what’s known as the Ryan Budget after its author, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.//, the losing 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee. One reason he lost is because his budget plan, which relies solely on spending cuts to reduce deficits by gutting a century of progressive social and economic advances, scares the hell out of people. The Democratic compromise includes a mix of spending cuts along with revenue increases. Ryan begins by cutting corporate taxes and the top marginal individual rate to 25 percent. You know when the top rate was last 25 percent? From 1925 to 1931, during the run-up to the Great Depression. So much for the con that low taxes create jobs.
Incongruously titled “The Path to Prosperity: A Responsible, Balanced Budget,” it extends the $1.2 trillion mandatory sequestration cuts for domestic spending but unwinds it for defense spending. It anticipates reductions of $5.7 trillion over 10 years in domestic spending and entitlements. Medicaid, housing, food stamps and other programs are ravaged, many becoming capped block grant programs with unwarrantedly harsh new eligibility constraints and work requirements. Medicare devolves into a voucher payment fiddle in which future seniors will fend for themselves in the private insurance market and according to the Congressional Budget Office pay $6,400 more annually out-of-pocket for health care. The Affordable Care Act and its Medicaid expansion are repealed. Ryan is too fearful of public reaction to propose converting Social Security into a private pension boondoggle for his Wall Street peeps but we all know that’s what Republicans have been salivating over for years. So, let see who benefits from this “Responsible, Balanced Budget.” The top 20 percent: Check. Corporations: Check. Defense contractors: Check. The poor, middle class and seniors: Ah, well, not exactly. Ryan talks about common sacrifice to alleviate deficits but there is no sacrifice for those at the top of the pile, just plenty for the middle and bottom. To add perspective, here are some countries with top individual tax rates of 25 percent: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh and Botswana. And here are some countries whose percentage of tax revenue to GDP is similar to the 19 percent Ryan projects for the U.S.: Djibouti, Ghana and Uzbekistan. Wait! Now I get it! Ryan’s budget makes perfect sense. Once the drown-the-government-in-a-bathtub lunkheads get their way, if we’re going to tax ourselves like Third World countries we certainly can’t expect first world amenities. So go ahead, repeal “Obamacare,” slash Medicaid, Head Start, student loans, job training and social services; gut Medicare; ignore infrastructure, clean energy, education, research and the environment. And so much for those job-destroying, profit-killing federal regulations on food, drug, product and workplace safety and clean air and water. I bet they don’t have to worry about all that stuff in Uzbekistan. Marty Moore is a freelance writer living in Port Richey.