"Mr. Budget": Right-Wing Media Praise Paul Ryan's Harmful, Gimmicky Budget
Research ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT
Right-wing media figures are heaping praise on Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget plan, with one Fox host calling Ryan "Mr. Budget." In fact, Ryan's budget plan would harm many Americans: It increases taxes on the poor while cutting them for the wealthy, drastically cuts Medicaid and other needed safety net programs, and would cost millions of jobs by reducing federal spending during a still-weak economy.
Fox's Cavuto Calls Ryan "Mr. Budget," Suggests He Should Receive "A Medal For Trying" To Solve Budget Problems. Fox News host Neil Cavuto referred to Congressman Paul Ryan as "Mr. Budget" and praised him for his work on his budget proposals, saying: "You'd think we'd give him a medal for trying." [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 8/13/12]
HotAir: "Ryan's Budget Actually Works." Citing an Investors Business Daily article defending Ryan from claims that his budget is radical and extreme, conservative blogger Ed Morrissey claimed:
Ryan's budget actually works, and it plays in the arena of the possible, at least in today's political and media climate. One only needs to look at the hysterical reaction to Ryan's plan to return to what had been the pre-2000 norm of spending and revenue to understand just how difficult it has been to even get this common-sense plan passed through a Republican-controlled House.
Elections are choices. This one's really not to difficult to make. [HotAir, 8/4/12]
National Review's Lowry: Ryan Budget Vision "Deserves A Serious, Honest Debate." In a National Review Online post, editor Rich Lowry defended the Ryan budget's changes to Medicare and concluded:
What the Ryan plan offers, most fundamentally, is a vision of a reformed entitlement state that won't require massive new tax increases or debt to fund. For all the talk of the "radicalism" of his budget, it keeps taxes at a slightly higher level of GDP than they have averaged over the past several decades. Ten years from now, federal spending still would be at a higher level of GDP than it was at the end of the Clinton years.
This vision -- now at the center of the campaign - deserves a serious, honest debate, and will assuredly not get it. [National Review Online, 8/14/12]
Romney On Ryan Budget: "We're On The Same Page." Responding to reporters' questions about the differences between his budget plans and that of his running mate Congressman Ryan, Mitt Romney described himself as "on the same page" as Ryan concerning their budget plans:
"I'm sure there are places that my budget is different than his, but we're on the same page," Mr. Romney told reporters on an airport tarmac here Monday evening.
Pressed further to cite a couple areas where their plans would diverge, Mr. Romney said differences may exist, but he passed on naming any. "There may be, we'll take a look at the differences," Mr. Romney said. [The Wall Street Journal, 8/13/12]
Nobel Laureate Economist Paul Krugman: "Over The Medium Term ... It's A Plan To Savage The Poor While Giving Big Tax Breaks To The Rich." In a March 21 post on his New York Times blog, Paul Krugman noted that Ryan's plan would "savage the poor while giving big tax breaks to the rich:
[Ryan's] latest budget proposal has received some harsh critiques. It calls for huge tax cuts, supposedly offset by closing loopholes and ending tax expenditures - except that in a long report he fails to name a single tax expenditure that he would cut. It assumes drastic cuts in discretionary spending, basically eliminating everything except defense. And over the medium term, of course, it's a plan to savage the poor while giving big tax breaks to the rich. [The New York Times, Conscience of a Liberal, 3/21/12]
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich: "Guiding Principle" Of Ryan Plan Is To "Reward The Rich And Cut Off The Help To Anyone Who Needs It." In a March 21 Huffington Post blog post, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote that Paul Ryan's latest budget plan is based on the "guiding principle" to "reward the rich and cut off the help to anyone who needs it":
The real contrast is over what the plan does for the rich and what it does to everyone else. It reduces the top individual and corporate tax rates to 25 percent. This would give the wealthiest Americans an average tax cut of at least $150,000 a year.
The money would come out of programs for the elderly, lower-middle families, and the poor.
Seniors would get subsidies to buy private health insurance or Medicare - but the subsidies would be capped. So as medical costs increased, seniors would fall further and further behind.
Other cuts would come out of food stamps, Pell grants to offset the college tuition of kids from poor families, and scores of other programs that now help middle-income and the poor.
Not surprisingly, the Pentagon would be spared.
So what's the guiding principle here? Pure Social Darwinism. Reward the rich and cut off the help to anyone who needs it. [The Huffington Post, 3/21/12]
CBPP: Ryan Budget "Would Likely Produce The Largest Redistribution Of Income From The Bottom To The Top In Modern U.S. History." Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), found that Ryan's budget plan would "likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history":
The new Ryan budget is a remarkable document -- one that, for most of the past half-century, would have been outside the bounds of mainstream discussion due to its extreme nature. In essence, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse -- on steroids. It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation's history). [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/21/12]
CBPP: Ryan Budget Hikes Taxes For The Neediest, Cuts Them Deeply For The Rich. The CBPP reported that a Tax Policy Center analysis found that the Ryan plan's tax cuts disproportionately benefit those at the top, while the poor would see a tax increase. Indeed, people making less than $30,000 would all see an increase in taxes. The effect of Ryan's plan on after-tax income is demonstrated in the following graph:
[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/12/12]
CBPP: "Millionaires Would Receive More Than One-Third" Of New Tax Cuts In Ryan Budget. The CBPP said that the Tax Policy Center's analysis "show that people making more than $1 million a year would receive 39 percent of the new Ryan tax cuts even though they constitute less than one-half of 1 percent of U.S. households."
[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/12/12]
Congressional Joint Economic Committee: "Most Households Making Less Than $200,000 Will See Their Taxes Increase Under The Ryan Plan." A report by Sen. Bob Casey's (D-PA) Joint Economic Committee staff noted that while Ryan's budget cuts taxes for the richest Americans, it eliminates deductions for state and local taxes, mortgage interest, employer-provided health insurance, and 401(k) contributions, all of which hurt middle class Americans. The report concludes that "a typical household earning between $50,000 and $100,000 and filing jointly will face a tax increase under the Ryan plan of $1,358." [Joint Economic Committee, 6/20/12]
Ryan's Budget Funds Tax Cuts For The Richest Americans Through Cuts To Programs For Working Americans
CBPP: Nearly Two-Thirds Of Cuts In Ryan Plan Come From Programs For Low-Income Americans. A CBPP analysis of Ryan's budget blueprint stated that it "violates basic principles of fairness" because it "would get at least 62 percent of its $5.3 trillion in nondefense budget cuts over ten years (relative to a continuation of current policies) from programs that serve people of limited means."
[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/23/12]
Ryan Budget Drastically Cuts Food Stamps
CBPP: Ryan's Proposed Reductions In Food Stamp Spending Could Cut 8 Million Needy People From The Program. The CBPP examined the Ryan budget plan's $133.5 billion cuts to the food stamp program and found that "policymakers couldn't possibly achieve cuts of this magnitude without substantially scaling back SNAP eligibility or reducing benefits deeply." The CBPP stated that "[i]f the cuts were to come solely from eliminating eligibility" for "currently eligible households," "more than 8 million people would need to be cut from the program" if cuts began right away. [Center on Budget and Policy priorities, 4/18/12]
Ryan Budget Sharply Cuts Aid For College Students
CBPP: Ryan Budget May Cut Up To $166 Billion In Pell Grants For Low-Income Students. A CBPP report titled, "Chairman Ryan gets 62 Percent of His Huge Budget Cuts from Programs for Lower-Income Americans" found that Ryan's plan could cut up to $166 billion in Pell Grants for low-income students:
The Ryan documents show that $758 billion in cuts would come from mandatory programs just in the income security portion of the budget (function 600), and the bulk of the mandatory spending in that category goes for low-income programs. The documents also show $166 billion in mandatory cuts in the education, training, employment, and social services portion of the budget (function 500), which, based on the discussion in the Ryan budget documents, would likely come mainly from the mandatory portion of the Pell Grant program for low-income students. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/23/12]
Education Trust: Ryan Budget Targets College Students For Cuts. The Huffington Post reported that an analysis from "the national reform organization Education Trust" shows that the Ryan budget targets Pell Grants and subsidized student loans that help poorer students attend college:
The plan proposed by Ryan (R-Wis.), who chairs the House Budget Committee, would chop away at Pell grant eligibility, thereby reducing total Pell grants by about $170 billion over the next decade; allow the interest rate for federally subsidized Stafford loans to double; end student loan interest subsidies for those still in school; and make Pell spending discretionary -- instead of mandatory -- allowing further cuts down the line. Pell grants, the largest source of federal financial aid, currently help more than 9 million students to afford college. Following last year's budget standoffs, next year's maximum Pell grant of $5,645 will cover just one-third of the average cost of college -- the smallest share ever.
The budget would cut Pell grant eligibility for students who attend classes on a less-than-halftime schedule -- which usually means low-income students who need to work their way through college. [The Huffington Post, 4/5/12]
CBPP: Ryan Budget Would Slash Discretionary Spending Aid To State And Local Governments By Half Of Historical Average. In an analysis of the Ryan budget's cutting measures, the CBPP stated that the cuts "likely would bring funding for state and local services far below historical levels." The report included the following graph:
[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 8/8/12]
Jonathan Cohn: "Ryan Really Believes In Ending Medicare As We Know It." New Republic blogger and health care journalist Jonathan Cohn wrote that Ryan's plan would end Medicare as we know it by eliminating the program's guarantee of comprehensive medical benefits while raising the eligibility age and producing vouchers that will quickly prove inadequate to allow seniors to purchase the care they need. [The New Republic, 8/11/12]
CBPP: Ryan Would Divide Health System Into "Two Tiers: Those Who Could Afford The Care They Need Would Get It" And Many Others Who Would Not. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities vice president Edwin Park wrote that the "Ryan budget would divide our health system into a distinct two tiers: those who could afford the care they need would get it; many others would not." [NYTimes.com, 5/7/12]
Ryan's Plan Would Detrimentally Affect Today's Seniors. Conservative media have argued that Ryan's plan has no effect on people 55 or over. In fact, Ryan's budget would raise the cost of health care for today's seniors by forcing them to pay thousands of dollars more for prescription drugs, creating a voucher system that would drive health care costs higher, and sharply cutting Medicaid, a program heavily utilized by seniors. [Media Matters, 8/13/12]
Krugman: "14 Million Is The Minimum Number Of People Who Would Lose Health Insurance" From Ryan's Medicaid Cuts. In his New York Times blog, economist Paul Krugman wrote that Ryan budget's cuts to Medicaid would cause millions to lose health insurance:
14 million is the minimum number of people who would lose health insurance due to Medicaid cuts -- the Urban Institute, working off the very similar plan Ryan unveiled last year, puts it at between 14 and 27 million people losing Medicaid.
That's a lot of people -- and a lot of suffering. [The New York Times, The Conscience of a Liberal, 4/6/12]
CBPP: Ryan's Plan To Convert Medicaid To Block Grants Would Cut The Program By 22 Percent In 10 Years. A post on CBPP's Off the Charts blog stated that the Ryan budget's proposal to restructure Medicaid into block grants "would add tens of millions of Americans to the ranks of the uninsured." The post also said that Ryan's plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion "means that 17 million" more people would not receive health insurance. The post continued:
The block grant would cut federal Medicaid spending by $810 billion over the next ten years (2013-2022). That would be a cut of about 22 percent compared to current law. (This doesn't count the loss of the large additional funding that states would receive to expand Medicaid under health reform.)
[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Off the Charts, 3/20/12]
EPI: Spending Cuts In Ryan Budget Would Reduce Employment Millions Of Jobs by 2014. The Economic Policy Institute estimated that the budget cuts included in the Ryan plan would reduce Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 3.5 percent and reduce employment by millions of jobs within 2 years:
The Ryan budget calls for immediate reductions in primary budget deficits (i.e., revenue less non-interest spending). Relative to current policies, EPI estimated that primary spending cuts of $125 billion in fiscal 2013 would reduce GDP by 1.1 percent, and primary cuts of $279 billion in fiscal 2014 would reduce GDP by 2.4 percent. These cuts would again appreciably slow economic recovery. Net of a very small, albeit costly, boost to demand from tax cuts (which are about 75 percent less efficient per dollar in generating jobs and growth), these deep government spending cuts would reduce employment by 1.3 million jobs in fiscal 2013 and 2.8 million jobs in fiscal 2014, relative to current budget policies. [Economic Policy Institute, 8/13/12]
EPI: Ryan's Medicaid Cuts Would Cost Nearly 5 Million Jobs In 4 Years. EPI estimated that the Medicaid cuts called for in the Ryan budget would "immediately reduce employment and impede recovery":
[W]ould immediately reduce employment and impede recovery. Consider Ryan's proposed Medicaid cuts, which total $544 billion over the next five years (a period in which the economy is expected to remain below potential). Using standard macroeconomic modeling consistent with private- and public-sector projections, we estimate that these cuts would cost the economy roughly 862,000 jobs in 2014 and that annual job loss would rise to nearly 1.5 million in 2017.
The EPI report included the following table:
[Economic Policy Institute, 4/10/12]
Krugman: Ryan Budget Is "Surely The Most Fraudulent Budget In American History." Economist Paul Krugman wrote in his New York Times column that the Ryan budget which passed in the House of Representatives is "the most fraudulent budget in American history" because its deficit reduction claims based on a "completely unsupported assertion":
[O]n Thursday Republicans in the House of Representatives passed what was surely the most fraudulent budget in American history.
And when I say fraudulent, I mean just that. The trouble with the budget devised by Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, isn't just its almost inconceivably cruel priorities, the way it slashes taxes for corporations and the rich while drastically cutting food and medical aid to the needy. Even aside from all that, the Ryan budget purports to reduce the deficit -- but the alleged deficit reduction depends on the completely unsupported assertion that trillions of dollars in revenue can be found by closing tax loopholes.
So which specific loopholes has Mr. Ryan, who issued a 98-page manifesto on behalf of his budget, said he would close?
None. Not one. He has, however, categorically ruled out any move to close the major loophole that benefits the rich, namely the ultra-low tax rates on income from capital. (That's the loophole that lets Mitt Romney pay only 14 percent of his income in taxes, a lower tax rate than that faced by many middle-class families.)
So what are we to make of this proposal? Mr. Gleckman calls it a "mystery meat budget," but he's being unfair to mystery meat. The truth is that the filler modern food manufacturers add to their products may be disgusting -- think pink slime -- but it nonetheless has nutritional value. Mr. Ryan's empty promises don't. [The New York Times, 4/1/12]
Tax Policy Center: Ryan Budget Is "Mystery Meat." On the Tax Policy Center's TaxVox blog, Urban Institute fellow Howard Gleckman explained that the latest Ryan budget is "mystery meat," because it "airily promises both trillions of dollars in tax cuts and a nearly balanced budget within a decade, but never says how he'd get there." [Tax Policy Center, TaxVox, 3/20/12]
EPI: Ryan Budget "Screams Fiscal Charlatan." In a post on the EPI's blog Working Economics, EPI budget expert Andrew Fieldhouse explained that Congressman Ryan's revenue assumptions to pay for his tax cuts are "dishonest." He concluded:
Nothing screams fiscal charlatan like trillions of dollars worth of tax cuts skewed toward the affluent but financed by gimmicks and abdication of longstanding commitments to seniors, children, and the disabled. [Economic Policy Institute, Working Economics, 4/3/12]
CEPR's Dean Baker: "The Ryan Budget's Savings Come From Shutting Down The Federal Government." Reacting to a Washington Post report on the Ryan budget, Dean Baker, economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, noted that due to the Ryan budget's huge cuts to discretionary spending, its savings come "from essentially shutting down the federal government":
[I]n percentage terms by far the biggest savings in the Ryan budget comes from essentially shutting down the federal government, except for Social Security, health care programs and the military. The CBO analysis of his budget [Table 2] shows that all other areas of federal spending falls to 4.75 percent of GDP by 2040 and 3.75 percent of GDP by 2050.
Military spending is currently more than 4.0 percent of GDP and Representative Ryan has indicated that he wants to keep spending at its current levels or raise it. This means that under the Ryan Budget, by 2040 there will be almost no money left for national parks, education, the State Department, the Food and Drug Administration, federal courts and all the other activities currently supported by the federal government. By 2050 there will be no money left for these activities. [Center for Economic and Policy Research, Beat the Press, 8/12/12]