The Ryan Budget Is a Broken Record of Failed Trickle-Down Economics

By Anna Chu and Harry Stein

For the past three years, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been trotting out the same conservative, top-down policies that have failed the nation’s middle- and working-class families, seniors, and the economy. The House Republican budget is built around the tenet that nearly everyone else must sacrifice in order to continue to give billions of dollars in tax breaks to millionaires, big corporations, and Big Oil. At every turn, the House Republican budget reveals its vision of an economy and government that only works for the wealthiest individuals and special corporate interests at the cost of everyone else.

Now for the fourth consecutive year, the House Republican budget proposes dismantling traditional Medicare and slashing investments that drive our economy, all while cutting taxes for the rich and protecting taxpayer subsidies for big businesses and oil companies. The American people have seen this before, and we know how it ends—with millionaires, big corporations, and Big Oil as the only ones who are better off. Everyone else gets left behind, and our economy only gets weaker. Read more.

RADICAL REPUBLICAN BUDGET: ROBIN HOOD IN REVERSE

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee today is continuing the drumbeat against House Republicans who voted for the radical Republican budget, releasing a new web video to highlight the chasm between mainstream Americans’ priorities and House Republicans’ radical approach. In the video – “Radical Republican Budget: Robin Hood in Reverse” – Republicans describe the budget as the best way to communicate their “governing philosophy.” The video goes on to show the GOP Doctrine for Governance in clear terms: higher taxes for the middle class, bigger medical bills for seniors on Medicare, more expensive student loans and a tax break for millionaires.

Under the Republican doctrine for governance, the Ryan budget, middle class Americans could pay $3,000 more in taxes and the Medicare guarantee, paid for with deductions from every dollar earned by working Americans ….  will END. Thus, their governance philosophy will take that money to fund other things like a $245,000 tax for millionaires, and  force seniors to pay more for their care — if they can find an insurance company to cover it and if they can find a doctor to provide it.  And, while the middle class would be paying more in taxes, folks like Mitt Romney, whose tax liability is imposed primarily by capital gains taxes, would see their tax liabilities plummet with Ryan’s slash to capital gains taxes.  Valuing making money off the fruits of others’ labors, without having to exert an ounce of labor yourself, is not an “American” value.

Radical Republican Budget: Robin Hood in Reverse

 

“Republicans themselves tell us that their budget is the best way to communicate their ‘governing philosophy’ and that’s exactly what they did – more for millionaires and corporate special interests, less for the middle class and seniors,” said Emily Bittner of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Americans rejected the philosophy of this radical Republican budget in the last election because it ends the Medicare guarantee for seniors and asks the middle class to pay more – all while cutting taxes for millionaires and corporate special interests. It might be the Republicans’ governing philosophy but it isn’t the right philosophy for America’s middle class.”

Ryan’s Path to Poverty budget is the third in a series, all espousing their out of touch governance doctrine.  The GOP hasn’t learned that their “philosophy” isn’t what Americans want.  Instead, thick-headed GOP members of the House  are continuing to push philosophies the American people don’t want.  Bound to their millionaire donors and determined to implement their demands, the GOP intends — to impose their revolutionary doctrine — to convert America into a Plutocracy ruled over by the uber-rich — using budgets — without firing a single bullet.

Here’s their “philosophy”  documents introduced since 2008 along with their platform.  Read/compare a few to see what you think — and if you’d like you can compare the actual budget numbers here.

 

2012-GOP-Platform GOP Growth Opportunity Rpt 2009-GOP-Road-to-Recovery 2010-GOP-Better-Solutions
GOP 2012 Platform GOP Growth Opportunities 2009 Road to Recovery 2010-Better Solutions
2010-Pledge-to-America Path to Poverty v1.0 Path to Poverty v2.0 Path to Poverty v3.0
2010-Pledge to America P2P v1.0 P2P v2.0 P2P v3.0

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10 Terrible Amendments Offered by Republican Senators

Mar 22, 2013 | By ThinkProgress War Room

The Senate has been debating the Democratic budget for the past few days. One of the quirks of Senate rules means that the amendment process on the budget is completely open, allowing senators to file and request a vote on an unlimited number of amendments. They don’t even have to say what their amendments are in advance, but many still choose to file them in advance. Since the process is so open, a rarity in the gridlocked Senate, senators often use this opportunity to file highly political message amendments. We sifted through the more than 400 amendments filed and found dozens that are terrible, ridiculous, nonsensical, damaging, or just plain crazy. Here’s a look at ten of those proposals.

  1. BOSS IN YOUR BEDROOM: Sens. Fischer (R-NE), Cruz (R-TX), Johanns (R-NE), and Enzi (R-WY) introduced an amendment to put your boss in your bedroom by allowing them to deny you birth control coverage based on their beliefs, not yours. This is just one of numerous anti-Obamacare amendments offered by Republicans. Incidentally, the law turns three tomorrow. 42 GOP senators and 2 Democrats voted for this amendment.
  2. NRA-FUELED CONSPIRACY THEORIES: Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) offered an amendment that would prevent the U.S. from signing on to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. The NRA and other right-wing groups falsely claim that this is some backdoor gun grab, which led the Senate to fail to ratify the treaty last year. The NRA is currently making a full court press to kill or at least gut the treaty. Sen. Vitter (R-LA) offered a similar amendment that would prohibit the U.N. from registering or taxing Americans’ guns, something the organization obviously has no plans to do.
  3. HOUSE GOP BUDGET: While Republicans found time to cook up hundreds of other amendments, it seems no Republican senator wanted to vote on the House GOP budget as a substitute for the Senate Democratic plan. When Democrats offered the draconian Ryan plan that ends Medicare and raises taxes on the middle class in order to slash them on the wealthy, a measly 40 GOP senators voted for the plan from their counterparts in the House. Three GOP senators, however, voted against it because it wasn’t extreme enough.
  4. GIVEAWAY TENS OF BILLIONS TO WALL STREET BANKS: In the same so-called “reconciliation” bill that was necessary to finish passing Obamacare was a provision that stopped routing federal student loans through the big banks. Previously, the banks acted as a middleman between the federal government and borrowers, reaping billions in fees each year even though they bore no risk because the government was the one guaranteeing the loans. The banks role was eliminated in 2010 and the money was shifted to Pell grants. Earlier today, Republicans put forward an amendment to repeal all of the Obamacare bill, including the student loan reforms. This would literally take money away from students and hand it over to the Wall Street banks. 45 Republicans backed this proposal, which also was the third time this week that GOP senators forced a vote on repealing Obamacare.
  5. OBAMAPHONE: One of the more racially-charged moments in last year’s presidential campaign came when Republican groups promoted a video of an African-American woman proclaiming her support for Obama because, she said, the government was giving out free cell phones, among other things. The Drudge Report and other right-wing media immediately dubbed this the “Obamaphone” controversy. As it turned out, the FCC’s Lifeline program offering free cell phones to low-income Americans began under President George W. Bush and is based on a Reagan-era program to provide low-income Americans with subsidized telephone service. Sen. Coburn (R-OK) offered an amendment to “reform” or, more likely, eliminate, this otherwise obscure program that is important to low-income Americans.
  6. MITT ROMNEY’S TAX PLAN: The Democratic plan raises close to $1 TRILLION in revenue just by closing loopholes that benefit the wealthy and corporate special interests like Big Oil. Republicans wanted to replace this with revenue-neutral tax reform that used the money to pay for huge new tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations instead of using it to reduce the deficit. This is almost identical to the Romney-Ryan tax plan that raised middle class taxes and which voters soundly rejected last year. All 45 GOP senators voted for this recycled Romney plan, which Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) also included in this year’s House GOP budget.
  7. KILL WIND JOBS, SEND CLEAN ENERGY INDUSTRY TO CHINA: Sen. Alexander (R-TN) wants to repeal the vital tax credits for wind power, just as Mitt Romney proposed last year. This would kill 37,000 jobs more or less immediately and effectively cede the clean energy industry to China and our other foreign competitors.
  8. LEAVE THE UN: Sen. Paul (R-KY) proposed one measure to save a very small amount of money: withdraw from the United Nations.
  9. RACE-BAITING WELFARE LIES: You may remember that Mitt Romney and other Republicans advanced the outright lie that President Obama “removed the work requirement from welfare.” This was categorically untrue, but that didn’t stop Republicans from airing millions of dollars in ads about it. In any case, the GOP campaign of distortion around the amendment has resulted in no states taking advantage of the flexibility requested by some Republican governors that the Obama administration offered to grant. Nevertheless, Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) is still so concerned that he offered an amendment to address the non-existent problem of the work requirement having been removed from welfare. For good measure, he offered a second mean-spirited amendment that mandates drug testing for welfare recipients.
  10. CREATE A PERMANENT IMMIGRANT UNDERCLASS: Sen. Sessions (R-AR), who has faced charges of racial prejudice in the past and was once denied a seat on the federal bench as a result, put forward a proposal to bar even those immigrants who receive legal status from receiving numerous tax breaks directed at the working poor. This would even prevent immigrants from receiving tax breaks that they are claiming on behalf of their American citizen children.

These are just a few of the dozens of terrible proposals put forward today by Republican senators.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Painful …

— by Steven Horsford

Today, the House Republicans jammed the Ryan Republican Budget through Congress. They call it a “path to prosperity,” but really it is just a “path to pain.”

That’s right, this budget will be painful for America’s middle class families. It will hurt our children. It will devastate our seniors. It is not a solution.

I came to Washington to work with Democrats and Republicans to create common sense solutions to our nation’s budget problems. But balancing our budget, without cutting our deficit, on the back of our families is not common sense. It is harmful, painful and irresponsible.

We cannot afford the cuts that Paul Ryan and the Republicans are pushing. The Ryan Republican Budget will cut nearly two million jobs in the next year alone. It will end Medicare as we know it for the next generation of Nevada seniors and it will stall our nation’s economic growth by 1.7 percent.

Nevada is on the path to recovery, but cutting jobs and slowing growth will only set us back.

What ‘Grand Bargainers’ Simpson and Bowles Really Stand For

By  | November 28, 2012 | Originally Published on Campaign for America’s Future Blog

There has been a lot of discussion about Congress enacting a “grand bargain” during the lame duck session of Congress.  Many members of Congress have talked about using the plan put forward by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles as an outline for a “balanced” approach to deficit reduction.

Let me take this opportunity to tell you a little about Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles and what their plan would do.

As many of you know, Alan Simpson is a former conservative Republican Senator from Wyoming who has wanted to cut Social Security benefits for decades.

Here are just a few of the rude, inaccurate, and derogatory statements that Alan Simpson has made about Social Security:

  • On August 24, 2010, Alan Simpson wrote in an e-mail to the head of the Older Women’s League: “And yes, I’ve made some plenty smart cracks about people on Social Security who milk it to the last degree. You know ‘em too. It’s the same with any system in America. We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits!  Call when you get honest work!”
  • On Friday, May 6, 2011, Alan Simpson told the Investment Company Institute, that Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme”, “not a retirement program.”  Simpson went on to say that Social Security “was never intended as a retirement program. It was set up in ‘37 and ‘38 to take care of people who were in distress — ditch diggers, wage earners — it was to give them 43 percent of the replacement rate of their wages. The [life expectancy] was 63. That’s why they set retirement age at 65.”
  • On June 19, 2010, Alan Simpson said: “Social Security was never a retirement. It was set up to take care of poor guys in the depression who lost their butts who were getting butchered.”

Erskine Bowles has been a board member of Morgan Stanley since 2005 and made a fortune as a Wall Street investment banker as many of you know.

However, you may not know that Erskine Bowles made the following statement in 2011 at the University of North Carolina: “Paul Ryan is honest, he is straightforward, he is sincere. And the budget that he came forward with is just like Paul Ryan. It is a sensible, straightforward, honest, serious budget and it cut the budget deficit just like we did, by $4 trillion.”

You may also be unaware that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson endorsed Congressman Charles Bass (R-NH) against progressive Democrat Ann McClane Kuster.

In their endorsement of Rep. Bass, Bowles and Simpson wrote: “Charlie supported a plan that demonstrated it is possible to raise revenues for deficit reduction through pro-growth tax reforms that reduce tax rates for individuals and businesses.  Likewise, it is possible to reform entitlement programs … He is a brave leader who deserves the thanks of everyone who really cares about our nation’s future.”

Rep. Bass voted for the Paul Ryan budget that every Democrat in the Senate has voted against.  In contrast, Kuster, who went on to defeat Rep. Bass, has said: “Let me be clear: I will never cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. My Tea Party opponent will.”

Even more distressing, in my opinion, is the belief that the Simpson-Bowles plan is a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction that we should be using as a model.

Here are the major elements of the Simpson-Bowles plan that I believe the Democratic Caucus should strongly oppose:

  1. Cutting Social Security benefits for current retirees.  The Simpson-Bowles plan would reduce Social Security benefits for current retirees by using a “chained-CPI” to determine cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs).  According to the Social Security Administration, enacting a chained CPI would cut Social Security benefits by $112 billion over 10 years meaning that the average Social Security recipient who retires at age 65 would get $560 less a year at age 75 and would get $1,000 less a year at age 85 than under current law.

    Two-thirds of senior citizens rely on Social Security for more than half of their income, and the average Social Security benefit today is about $1,200 a month.  At a time when seniors haven’t received a Social Security COLA in two out of the last three years as the price of prescription drugs and healthcare have gone up, the Simpson-Bowles plan would make it harder for today’s average senior citizen to make ends meet.

  2. Cutting veterans’ benefits.   Not only would enacting a chained-CPI be harmful to senior citizens, it would also make substantial cuts to the VA benefits of more than 3 million veterans.  The largest cuts in benefits would impact young, permanently disabled veterans who were seriously wounded in combat.  According to the Social Security Administration, permanently disabled veterans who started receiving VA disability benefits at age 30 would see their benefits cut by more than $1,300 a year at age 45; $1,800 a year at age 55; and $2,260 a year at age 65.  That would be simply unacceptable.
  3. Raising the retirement age to 69 years.  Increasing the retirement age to 69 would reduce lifetime Social Security benefits for workers by about 13 percent.  This would be particularly harmful to construction workers, nurses, factory workers and other labor intensive jobs.  According to the Center for Economic Policy and Research, 45 percent of workers who are 58 years of age and older work in physically demanding jobs or jobs with difficult working conditions.  Moreover, older Americans have a higher rate of long-term unemployment than any other age group.
  4. Cutting Social Security benefits for middle class workers.  According to the Social Security Administration, all of the Social Security policy changes in Bowles-Simpson would cut average annual Social Security benefits for middle-income workers (with average annual lifetime earnings of between $43,000 and $69,000) by up to 35 percent.
  5. Reducing tax rates for the wealthy and large corporations.  The Simpson-Bowles plan would significantly reduce income tax rates for the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations to between 23 and 29 percent — even lower than the top rate of 35% under the Bush tax cuts.    Simpson and Bowles claim that some $1.2 trillion in revenue would be increased under their proposal by eliminating or reducing tax expenditures, such as the mortgage interest deduction, and the tax exclusion on employer health insurance and pension plans.  However, a March 22, 2012 Congressional Research Service report has suggested that federal income tax rates could be reduced by no more than two percentage points under a realistic scenario of reducing tax expenditures in order to be deficit neutral, and could not reduce the deficit.

    The President and almost all Democrats have supported repealing the Bush tax breaks for the top two percent.  That means that the top individual income tax rate would be increased from 35 percent to 39.6 percent – the same level under President Clinton when over 22 million new jobs were created.  We should eliminate corporate tax loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthy — and use this revenue to reduce the deficit and create jobs, not to lower tax rates.

Other harmful provisions in the Simpson-Bowles plan include:

  • Increasing the regressive gas tax by 15 cents starting next year;
  • Increasing premiums for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program;
  • Increasing interest rates on student loans;
  • Increasing co-payments for middle class veterans receiving health care through the VA;
  • Cutting 450,000 jobs in the federal workforce and private companies under contract with the federal government;
  • Eliminating or limiting the exclusion of taxation on employer provided health insurance and pensions;
  • Encouraging companies to ship jobs to China and other low wage countries by adopting a “territorial” tax system allowing corporations to evade U.S. income taxes by establishing subsidiaries overseas;
  • Increasing taxes on low-income workers making between $10,000 to $20,000 a year by 14.5% in 2021 by moving to a chained-CPI; and
  • Reducing the number of Americans eligible for Medicaid, SSI, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, WIC, Head Start, LIHEAP, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Refundable Child Credit, and the Savers’ credit by shifting to a chained-CPI.

Those are the major elements of the Simpson-Bowles plan.  If enacted, they will cause major economic pain to virtually every American, while lowering tax rates for millionaires, billionaires and large corporations even more than President Bush.

For all of these reasons, I hope you will join me in opposing the Simpson-Bowles approach to deficit reduction.


Bernie Sanders is an independent U.S. senator from Vermont. This was written as a “Dear Colleague” letter to members of the U.S. Senate and was published on the Campaign for America’s Future Blog