Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Why Is Anyone Taking This Proposal Seriously?


There's not a chance Paul Ryan's 2012 budget gets close to becoming law, unless the GOP pulls off some political wizardry complemented with a heavy dose of lies to trick the American public into supporting it. That would be entirely possible seeing as the Democrats have some of the worst messaging known to man. In poll after poll, cutting Medicare is shown to be the least popular way to reduce the deficit, while increasing taxes on the rich is the most popular. Ryan completely flips these priorities. I realize that the debt is a significant problem and that Medicare and Medicaid need to be reformed to rein it in, but these further tax cuts for the rich are egregious. They will make it take much longer to actually reduce the debt. Does Ryan think we need a more unequal society than we already have? Or does he think that these cuts are going to keep on trickling down like they did so well with the Bush tax cuts?

Also, don't you just love that shit-eating grin he's got here. It's like, "Hey, I'm a nice guy from the midwest." But in reality he's saying, "I'm going to take healthcare away from the poor and elderly and give the savings to rich people."

13 comments:

jwhitney said...

HOW DO YOU DO IT PBM??? You post with such unbiased fervor and passion that I would almost think you didn't like Republicans.

PBM said...

I am biased, but the facts about the polling are not.

TJE said...

1. There just aren't enough rich people to put dent in deficit.

2. Medicare is the primary source of debt bomb.

Ian Thresher said...

DISCLAIMER: I do not agree with his budget. With that said, at least a Republican has put together some sort of budget. It is encouraging to see the Republicans attempt to come up with solutions to pressing problems. So I give him credit for that. Additionally, I do like the fact that he is taking on Medicade reform. I think such action is vital to long term budgetary health. Finally, I applaud his attempts to not take into account polling in making his decision. I do not think we should bridge the deficit in the way he proposes, but I think that it is great that a politician is willing to make unpopular choices in (what he sees as) the best interests of the country.

PBM said...

I agree with both of those statements, TJE, but that sidesteps the point I'm trying to make. Ryan wants to lower taxes on the rich, making the deficit even larger. I do support raising taxes on the rich, but that was not the overarching thesis of this post. I was just trying to point out that Ryan's plan flies in the face of popular opinion on deficit reduction.

Medicare does need some reform, but I think that reform should come in the form of precise cuts and added efficiency (I really don't know health policy very well, but I'm sure the 10,000 or so wonks in DC could figure something out), not in abolishing the program 10 years out.

PBM said...

Ian, I agree that the Ryan plan is bold. I think you misunderstood my points about polling though. I didn't mean that politicians should do everything according to polls. Rather, I meant to emphasize the fact that Ryan and the GOP are going to go through great lengths to sell this to the American people without necessarily telling them the truth about how dramatic these cuts and tax cuts for the rich are. I'm all for politicians going against polls, but if they are going to do that, they should do it in a honest way by explaining their plan to the public truthfully, and explaining why such a dramatic plan is needed. In the introduction video, Ryan doesn't mention tax cuts for the rich. If he wants to give more tax cuts to the rich, he should sell that to the American people, not just talk about "America's path to prosperity," our "overbearing debt," and how the Dems "aren't willing to solve our most pressing problems."

Ian Thresher said...

Yep, I would agree with that.

PBM said...

Also, to TJE, Megan, and anyone else sympathetic to Ryan's plan, a major reason I am skeptical about this is that I was in the room when a conservative Republican governor basically said that Ryan's planned cuts to Medicaid were ludicrous and outrageous.

jwhitney said...

credit where credit is deserved

http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/05/paul-ryan-and-the-triumph-of-policy/?scp=2&sq=paul%20ryan's%20budget%20proposal&st=cse

jwhitney said...

I think that article answers the big question that titles this blog post

PBM said...

I agree with the main focus of that article, but the author doesn't mention the tax cuts for the rich. I think this is something we will continue to see not only with conservative politicians, but also with conservative talking heads/media outlets to help Republicans sell their plan.

Patrick_L said...

Some quick thoughts:

1) “There just aren't enough rich people to put dent in deficit.” The term is debt, not deficit. Raising revenues, including ending the Bush tax breaks for the wealthy, is essential for controlling deficits in the initial decades. This is the most pressing concern for most economists concerned about the country, since if you don’t control the deficits quickly then the debt-to-gdp ratio will continue to rise and investors may lose confidence in the United States’ government. Raising taxes on rich people is essential if you believe a debt crisis is imminent or possible in several years. It would be at least a decade before Ryan’s Medicare reforms start equaling the annual impact of just returning the tax rates for the wealthiest families to pre-Bush deficit-financed tax break levels, while it would take Social Security reform DECADES to match the impact. Ryan’s budget, even with its massive cuts that disproportionately fall on programs assisting the poor, elderly, disabled, etc., would leave the debt-to-GDP ratio worse off in a decade than it is now. Why? Because he ignores revenues. Now that’s what I call fiscal responsibility.

2) “Medicare is the primary source of the debt bomb.” Once again, this statement should be qualified with the caveat that Medicare’s structuring itself is doing quite fine compared to private insurance- rising health care costs systemwide combined with an aging population are causing Medicare’s costs to rise just like the rest of the system. Moving people off of traditional Medicare won’t change this country’s overall costs- it will just shift the costs to the elderly (at the time, Ryan locks in current beneficiaries).

Patrick_L said...

3) Ryan’s entitlement savings depend heavily on repealing PPACA, which he claims would net him $1.4 trillion. He block grants Medicaid, and he privatizes Medicare (the last of which CBO has already come out and concluded will actually INCREASE the costs of insuring these people). He extracts far greater relative savings (i.e. % of savings from what it would be otherwise) from Medicaid than Medicare, which largely spends its money on the elderly and disabled, with children and poor people thrown into the mix. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/cutting-medicaid-means-cutting-care-for-the-poor-sick-and-elderly/2011/03/28/AFXlFeiC_blog.html ) Like Peter said, the Medicaid cuts are ridiculous- allowing states run by governors like Haley Barbour (whose record on these matters is unpleasant to say the least) to cut benefits, cut access, cut beneficiaries, and increase cost-sharing on the most economically disadvantaged when that has been proven to lead these groups of individuals in particular to make worse medical decisions.

He does nothing to address this nation’s uninsured problem (repealing all of the advances PPACA made). He does nothing to control health care costs systemwide- he essentially just shoves the elderly, disabled, poor, etc. off the government’s books and hopes they can make up for all the increased costs they will be facing.

Even super serious (i.e. not leaning in one direction or the other) deficit hawks like the Concord Coalition are asking: Are Ryan’s proposed cuts in Medicare and Medicaid even sustainable for patients, providers and state governments?

4) This is in addition to a variety of other massive cuts he proposes to the nation’s safety net, including drastic cuts to programs like SNAP (i.e. food stamps). Shockingly, he has minimal details about how exactly he’s going to find these massive savings in the non-security discretionary and other mandatory (not Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security) sides of the budget.
5) Nor has he provided sufficient details on his tax policy ideas- all that’s clear now is that there is a further massive shift in taxation from the wealthiest Americans onto middle- and low-income families. These tax cuts will more than offset the impacts of his spending cuts on government programs like Social Security that provide some benefits to nearly all Americans.

What does this mean? Paul Ryan is achieving deficit reduction by entirely placing the burden on these least able to afford it (luckily they overwhelmingly vote Democratic…oops, meant “coincidentally.”) Is it better to follow your voting bloc’s interests and financial contributor’s interests than it is to follow polls?