Republicans Have a Roadmap to Another Economic Disaster

There are plenty of reasons for not being a Conservative. I for one could never keep a straight face, or steady hand on the keyboard and write crap like this from the right-wing media watchdog site Newsbusters, Paul Ryan Schools Chris Matthews on Tax Hikes, Budgets and Economics 101, By Noel Sheppard.

MATTHEWS: I just don`t see — I just don`t see any program cuts. You`re talking in general terms, but let me tell you this: the major Republicans that come on television will not cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They won`t cut the military. They can`t cut debt servicing. They won`t — they won`t get rid of a major cost of government.

They`ll talk about, you know, let`s freeze discretionary spending or discretionary and domestic in some sort of generalized way. But they won`t get rid of government. They seem to like government. In fact, they love to talk against it.

RYAN: Go to Americanroadmap.org and you will see a very comprehensive piece of legislation that the CBO has scored that`s actually paying off the debt –

Indeed, this Roadmap was released last week, but I digress:

MATTHEWS: OK.

RYAN: — with specific reforms to the entitlements you mentioned.

MATTHEWS: Name a major piece of the 1.4 trillion to 1.7 trillion. No, just take –

RYAN: OK.

MATTHEWS: — just take a chunk out that 1.4 trillion by getting rid of a big program or good expenditure that people now watching can understand.

Straightforward question. Now watch Ryan give a straightforward answer that Matthews will summarily brush aside like a fly in front of the camera:

RYAN: I would rescind the unspent stimulus funds. I would rescind all the TARP funds that aren`t spent. I would do a federal hiring freeze and pay freeze for the rest of the year. And I would go back and cut discretionary spending back to `08 levels and freeze that spending going forward.

Now, you and I can get into a debate about Keynesian economics, whether it worked or didn`t. I don`t think it did. We increased domestic discretionary last year by 84 percent. I don`t think we should continue to build that kind of a base. Let`s go back and cut discretionary spending back to `08 levels.

MATTHEWS: OK.

RYAN: Rescind stimulus, rescind TARP and do a federal hiring and pay freeze. Those are just a few ideas that add up to $1.3 trillion right there. (all italics are Newsbusters commentary)

Newsbusters loves that Ryan Roadmap. It was even scored by the CBO(Congressional Budget Office). The conversation with Tweety doesn’t mean much. That Newsbusters thought they heard, saw or imagined some big take down is typical of the sheeple mentality conservatives wear like a plastic flag pin made in China. When do right-wingers love the CBO? Not a trick question. They love the CBO when it scores a spending proposal or program the way they want it to and says the CBO is infiltrated with Marxists when the score doesn’t go their way. One way to get a favorable score for your proposal is to put a perfect scenario into your budget proposal and leave out any inconvenient numbers and consequences  - CTJ Shows Tax Proposals in Rep. Ryan’s ‘Roadmap’ Lead to Disaster

In a report released yesterday, Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) critically examined the tax policies proposed recently in Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget alternative, titled conventionally, “A Roadmap for America’s Future.” Claims of the proposal “balancing the budget” and “reforming entitlements” have already been thoroughly debunked, but CTJ has contributed a valuable analysis of the young Republican’s tax policies, which will actually cost the government “$2 trillion over a decade even while requiring 90 percent of taxpayers to pay more” than they already do in taxes.

This is where I’m supposed to have a gotcha on Newsbusters, but having read Newsbusters for a few years and having become familiar with their obvious aversion to actual research, there is reason to believe they didn’t even read Ryan’s Roadmap. Either way they are guilty of having the same high journalistic standards as Andrew Breitbart and Fox News. There is no bullsh*t they will not print to advance their agenda.

How does Ryan, the ranking member on the House Budget Committee, accomplish this stunning feat? Steve Wamhoff, the report’s author, argues that Ryan’s proposal reduces federal receipts and outlays to recklessly low levels, while pumping money into the pockets’ of the nation’s wealthiest citizens. Ryan, according to Wamhoff, structures this disaster of a budget proposal around four main tax policies: extension of all Bush Tax Cuts; introduction of a “simplified” tax as an alternative to the personal income tax; elimination of the estate tax; and replacement of the corporate tax with a value-added tax (VAT).

None of us have to be tax experts or economists or statistical wizards to understand the results of the Bush tax cuts.

“You cut taxes and the tax revenues increase.”  —  President Bush, February 8, 2006

“You have to pay for these tax cuts twice under these pay-go rules if you apply them, because these tax cuts pay for themselves.”  — Senator Judd Gregg, then Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, March 9, 2006

From 2001 to 2007 the tax cuts did not pay for themselves. The economy did not grow, but corporate profits did increase. Remember that Republican Math says tax cuts stimulate the economy, create jobs, increase revenue and pay for themselves. Ryan has been in Congress since 1998 and voted for the Bush tax cuts. At no time during his tenure during the Bush years did he provide any kind of map much less one that would balance the budget. If the Roadmap is so great why did he wait for now to release a plan that balances revenue with expenditures. And why, if tax cuts pay for themselves is he for a VAT on  business.

Replacement of the corporate tax with a consumption or VAT for business would create a regressive tax that would overwhelmingly hurt the poor and middle class, as businesses would be able to shift what was once a tax on them onto consumers.

Critics have been beating up on Rep. Ryan’s budget proposal since he released it back in February, but, as Matt Yglesias noted earlier today, it’s important to consider that in the not-too-distant future, Ryan could be writing budgets for a GOP majority, “presumably animated by the same moral principles that led him to this idea.” That is a scary thing.

As much as conservatives like Newsbusters and their darling Congressman Ryan like to flip-flop on CBO scores they play a similar game with Medicare. If they can scare people to support their agenda by portraying President Obama’s health-care reform as a way to kill grandma, then that becomes the useful lie of the week. If crippling or doing away with Medicare or Social Security or whatever safety net will make them look like deficit hawks peacocks they’ll use that too.

The proposal would shift risk from the federal government to seniors themselves. The money seniors would get to buy their own policies would grow more slowly than their health-care costs, and more slowly than their expected Medicare benefits, which means that they’d need to either cut back on how comprehensive their insurance is or how much health-care they purchase. Exacerbating the situation — and this is important — Medicare currently pays providers less and works more efficiently than private insurers, so seniors trying to purchase a plan equivalent to Medicare would pay more for it on the private market.

It’s hard, given the constraints of our current debate, to call something “rationing” without being accused of slurring it. But this is rationing, and that’s not a slur. This is the government capping its payments and moderating their growth in such a way that many seniors will not get the care they need. This is, in its simplest form, a way to limit the use of a finite resource…

[  ]…You can argue whether this cost control is better or worse than other forms of cost control. But it’s a blunt object of a proposal, swung with incredible force at a vulnerable target. Consider the fury that Republicans turned on Democrats for the insignificant cuts to Medicare that were contained in the health-care reform bill, or the way Bill Clinton gutted Newt Gingrich for proposing far smaller cuts to the program’s spending. This proposal would take Medicare from costing an expected 14.3 percent of GDP in 2080 to less than 4 percent. That’s trillions of dollars that’s not going to health care for seniors. The audacity is breathtaking.

If Democrats had proposed Ryan’s plan we’d be hearing the shrill screams of death panels and rationing one again, but since a conservative is planning to throw grandma out into the fend for yourself on the private market roasting pit, it’s all just good old capitalism at work. I don’t think Ryan wants to kill grandma, I don’t think he’s given the possibility much thought one way or the other. But hey according to the geniuses at Newsbusters he sure schooled Chris Matthews. If Paul Ryan’s Roadmap Is the Republican Way, Why Aren’t Republicans Driving On it?

– Because deficit reduction is so intimately linked to health reform, Ryan would focus on reducing long-term burden of Medicare and Medicaid; the programs would be significantly revamped, and eventually significantly reduced, and while the level of benefits could remain the same, the way the benefits are delivered would change — vouchers would be used to incentivize private insurance plan purchasing. They would be linked to income, which will save money, but premiums tend to rise more quickly than incomes.

–Ryan endorses a version of President Bush’s partial privitization of Social Security, giving younger Americans the option of investing as much as a third of their money, and filling the multi-trillion dollar transition gap that would result by using general revenue. In other words, the rest of the government budget might have to be significantly cut in order to allow Social Security to be saved. (Ryan says this isn’t necessarily true.) The CBO concluded that “traditional retirement benefits would be reduced below those scheduled under current law for many workers who are age 55 or younger in 2011.” Benefits for current retirees would stay the same.

Ryan’s plan does not have costs controls. Unless you call a cap on payments a cost control. That is what scare mongers like Sarah Palin and Newsbusters said health-care reform would do – cap payments so when grandma or whoever reached a certain point they’d let them die. Ryan is not proposing that per se, though he is proposing to leave seniors, the disabled and the poor to hang out to dry when their medical costs exceed a predetermined limit. And of course it would save money if you cannot enroll in Social Security or Medicare until you’re 69. That adds another four years where the free market decides whether you eat or get medical care, in other words live or die. Ryan accused, as his acolytes are also sure to, the  CBPP’s Analysis of “A Roadmap for America’s Future” of “partisan demagoguery”. In Republican Math name calling apparently changes the way numbers add up. Ryan’s rebuttal didn’t hold up to scrutiny either,

Cost of Medicare

Ryan’s Assertion : Ryan challenges our statement that his “plan imposes no requirement that private insurers actually offer health coverage to Medicare beneficiaries at an affordable price.”

Our Response : Although Ryan cites this as an example of an error or misleading statement on our part, he then fails to dispute it. He merely cites a section of his plan that directs the Department of Health and Human Services to publish a list of Medicare-approved health plans; he glosses over the issue of affordability, which was the heart of our statement. The simple fact is, as we wrote, that under the Ryan plan there is no requirement that private insurers offer coverage to Medicare beneficiaries at an affordable price. We believe that many frail seniors and people with disabilities would find adequate health insurance coverage priced out of reach.

Standards for Medicare Benefits

Ryan’s Assertion : Ryan takes issue with our statement that his plan “establishes no specific standards for Medicare benefits.”

Our Response : Here, as well, Rep. Ryan is incorrect. He notes that section 301 of his bill (H.R. 4529) defines “qualified health coverage” under Medicare. But neither section 301 nor any other provision in the bill establishes any standards for Medicare benefits, which was our point.

Ryan  and Newsbusters have a Roadmap. It’s chock-full of all the economic goodness Bush/Cheney and the Republican party had for economic prosperity back in 2001. The plan the man with the Roadmap voted for.

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