The rest of the Ryan budget
A series this
week by Jonathan Cohn takes this point as its premise:
Discussion of the House Republican budget has focused
mostly on the privatization of Medicare, the block-granting of Medicaid, and
the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. And that's appropriate, given the
magnitude of the changes and widespread impact they would have. But those
proposals are obscuring some other proposed shifts that, in any other context,
would be plenty troubling for their own sake.
discussion hasn't been quite that narrow, at least not among those critical of the GOP
budget for 2012: there's been much talk (including here) about not
just the budget's health-insurance program reforms but also the cuts that come
with them, the tax breaks for high earners and corporations and the plan's
highly imaginative math.
Cohn's right: there are plenty of other provisions in the bill that deserve a
dose of public outrage of their own. He's posted on four so far:
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food
stamps, gets the Medicaid treatment: it's converted to a state-administered
block grant, and its funding is cut. SNAP spending would no longer grow
automatically during an economic downturn, a shame given its stellar
performance as economic stimulus--to say nothing of all the hungry people who
can't find a job.
- Along with replacing Medicare
with an underfunded voucher system, the budget raises the program's eligibility age from 65 to 67. Add to this the repeal of
health-care reform--actually just some of it, since the Republicans decided they like a lot of it as long as it has
their names on it instead of the president's--and you're left with uninsured
and underinsured 65- and 66-year-olds and higher health-insurance costs for
- The budget eliminates an important element of the 2010 financial
reform bill: the
federal government's power to take over failing financial mega-firms and
dissolve them in an orderly way, as it does with traditional banks that are
failing. Republicans have long attacked this provision as "permanent bailout
authority" for the government, a powerful line but an odd way to defend a
position shared by Wall Street. The real point is to prevent the need for a bailout.
- According to an analysis
by Adam Hersh and Sarah Ayres, the budget's deep cuts to public investment
include a 37
percent cut from transportation infrastructure--even though our roads,
bridges, transit networks and air traffic control systems are already in
week, House Speaker John Boehner distanced himself from the GOP budget, an odd thing to do
after he successfully pushed it through the House. Meanwhile, the Congressional
Progressive Caucus released a detailed rival plan that includes some serious tax hikes.
It'll never pass, but that's not the point: the budget negotiations will involve
à la carte solutions and much
compromise. The Progressive Caucus's menu of ideas will help counteract the bad
ones detailed above--and its existence will make it harder for the Republicans
to take Obama's moderate, pre-compromised approach, paint it as insanely and
dangerously liberal and then get him to compromise even further.