In a March 22 column, Cleveland Plain Dealer editor Kevin O'Brien commenced a pedantic cheerleading session in support of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) controversial new budget plan. After glibly comparing Senate Democrats to preteen children, O'Brien argued that Ryan's infamously austere cuts "would not cut government far enough fast enough." Unfortunately, O'Brien's slash and burn philosophy of congressional budgeting ignores the real-world impact those cuts would have on fellow Ohioans.
If [Democrats] admit that entitlements are devouring revenues at an alarming and ever-increasing rate, they won't be able to demagogue Social Security and Medicare anymore.
If they admit that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that they passed all by themselves isn't going to do the main things they promised -- save money and insure the uninsured -- they open themselves to accusations that they knew all along that it was a scam. And the accusations would be true.
If they admit that they fully intend to just keep packing the nation's bedroom closet with debt until it explodes, the voters might punish them.
So, no honesty, no discussion, no vote, no budget.
Of course, O'Brien ignores the realities of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's (PPACA) successes and the harsh human element of Ryan's plan. The PPACA is two years old, and according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, plenty of previously uninsured Ohioans are now covered as a result of the law. More than 2,000 Ohioans with pre-existing conditions are now covered, and more than 80,000 young adults in the state have gained coverage. The health care security of more than four million residents is no longer threatened by lifetime caps on their coverage.
And as for entitlements, O'Brien doesn't tell his readers that under Ryan's budget (which again, he doesn't think goes far enough), more than 1.8 million vulnerable Ohioans will be at risk of losing food stamp benefits and slipping into hunger. This is according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which yesterday released a detailed look at how Ryan's budget would devastate children, seniors and people with disabilities. From the CBPP:
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's budget plan includes cuts in SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) of $133.5 billion -- more than 17 percent -- over the next ten years (2013-2022). [...]
The overwhelming majority of SNAP households are families with children, seniors, or people with disabilities. Almost three-quarters of SNAP participants are in families with children; more than one-quarter are in households that include senior citizens or people with disabilities.
By ignoring this grim picture, O'Brien hasn't simply missed the significance of the cuts. He's revealed volumes about where his priorities lie. As he noted:
[A] budget isn't just a statement of spending and income expectations. It's also a statement of beliefs -- a numerical representation of what is important.
A true statement, to be sure; and Mr. O'Brien's budget proposals reveal just what -- and who -- is important to him.