Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Green Eagle Looks at the Ryan "Budget"

Well, here we go again: another year and another cynical, phony "budget" produced by Paul Ryan for the Republicans.  I am going to list in some detail the provisions of this deeply dishonest document; it is going to make for a relatively long post, so I want to summarize it first.

The two chief features of the Ryan budget are the reduction of the top tax rate from 39% to 25%, and the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%.  It is vitally important to notice that this is nothing but a massive giveaway to the rich, beyond anything we have seen proposed before, even by corrupt Republicans.  You would have to be a fool to think that this has anything to do with decreasing the budget deficit.

Now, for the feature that is nowhere to be found in the budget:  As has been Republican practice for the last several years, this document claims to balance the Federal budget by resorting to Republican promises about "closing loopholes" and "eliminating fraud and waste."  But in fact, nowhere will Ryan (or any other Republican) identify which "loopholes" they want to close, nor provide evidence of fraud and waste that is anything but a miniscule fraction of what would be needed to cover current deficits, let alone the massive new giveaways that they are proposing to provide to the rich.  We all know that what Republicans are talking about when they cite loopholes are the mortgage interest deduction and health care deductions- which would massively punish middle class taxpayers in order to subsidize the lowering of tax rates on the rich- the only thing this document is really about.

Finally, you will see repeated malicious claims that regulation has to be done away with and the right of ordinary people to hold corporations responsible for the damage they do be curtailed; again, the same lying cant we have heard from Republicans for decades.

In fact, this "budget" is nothing but a rich person's wish list, which could have been written any year since the fifties.  It has absolutely nothing to do with dealing with the deficit, which Republicans do not care about in any way, and everything to do with further enriching the wealthy backers who pay to keep Republicans in office, at the expense of everyone else.  That is all Republicans ever care about, because they have sold themselves into slavery to the rich.  This has been true for a hundred years, and shows no sign of ever changing, no matter how much damage their behavior does to the rest of the country, and no matter how they fare in elections.

Well, on we go.  As usual, the passages in red are from the Republican budget report and those in black are my translation:

A budget as serious as Paul's phony dishwashing during the election

Higher education and job-training in brief:

• Encourage policies that promote innovation.

i.e. promote the privatization of our school system, through vouchers and charter schools, thus completing the transformation of our education system into a source of profit rather than a benefit to students- the same sort of change that Republicans have managed to make to our medical care system, with disastrous consequences for everyone but the owners of HMO's and insurance companies..

• Adopt a sustainable maximum-award level for Pell.

i.e. cut government support for students who want to go to college

• Ensure aid for higher education is targeted to the truly needy.

i.e. cut government support for students who want to go to college

• Update accounting rules to reflect the true cost of federal loan programs.

i.e. cut government support for students who want to go to college.  Is this sounding familiar?

• Eliminate ineffective and duplicative federal education programs.

i.e. cut government support for students who want to go to college.  Less for students equals more for rich people.

Tax reform in brief:

• Simplify the tax code to make it fairer to American families and businesses.

As you shall see, this "simplification" involves cutting taxes on the rich, and nothing else.

• Reduce the amount of time and resources necessary to comply with tax laws.

i.e. meaningless babble

• Substantially lower tax rates for individuals, with a goal of achieving a top individual rate of 25 percent.

• Consolidate the current seven individual-income-tax brackets into two brackets with a first bracket of 10 percent.

i.e. cutting tax rates on the rich from 36% to 25%

• Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax.

"Enacted by Congress in 1969, the alternative minimum tax (AMT) attempts to ensure that individuals and corporations that benefit from certain exclusions, deductions, or credits pay at least a minimum amount of tax."

Repealing this is another massive tax cut for the rich.

• Reduce the corporate tax rate to 25 percent.

From its current top rate of 35%- i.e. another massive giveaway to the rich

• Transition the tax code to a more competitive system of international taxation.

I.e. seek out whatever is the lowest top tax rate anywhere in the world, and award that to the rich in this country, no matter how it guts government functions.

• Provide states flexibility on Medicaid.

i.e. switch to a block grant system which guarantees that millions now covered will lose their health coverage.

• Repeal the health-care law’s expansion of Medicaid.

i.e. cut millions off of their health care- largely elderly people in nursing homes and the disabled, all of whom can rot in hell as far as Republicans are concerned.

• Repeal the health-care law’s exchange subsidies.

Try to destroy the very thing that makes Obamacare work financially, so Republicans can scream that it is a failure.

Welfare reform in brief

• Allow states to customize SNAP to address the needs unique to their citizens.

i.e. to allow Republican controlled States to continue taking Federal money while destroying the ability of their citizens to benefit.

• Address barriers to upward mobility.

This sentence means nothing.  It is a mere repetition of the standard Republican cant that giving rich people more money will generate jobs- a notion with no more reality behind it than the tooth fairy, as we all well know.

• Reinstitute welfare’s work requirements.

Of course, there aren't any jobs for these people to have, so maybe we can send them to plantations to pick cotton, or perhaps have them work on the levees.  "Work requirements" for welfare recipients in the absence of any real jobs- a principal feature of fascism, Mussolini style  (that is to say, literal fascism, as practiced in Italy in the 1920's and 1930's.)

• Preserve Medicare for those in or near retirement.

Except for changing the indexing so it pays less every year.

• Reform Medicare for younger generations.

i.e. destroy it by turning it into a block grant system which will guarantee ever less coverage.

• Repeal the health-care rationing board.

There is no such thing.  What this refers to is a provision in the new law to attempt to control rising health care costs through gathering information about where the money is being spent. Information- always an enemy of Republicans. Republicans are against that, of course, as such a thing would only benefit the American people, not medical companies.

• Reform the medical-liability system.

i.e. make it impossible to sue pharmaceutical companies and health care corporations for negligence.

• End the raid on the Medicare Trust Fund.

Something which is not happening, but it sounds scary.

• Means-test premiums for high-income seniors.

i.e. turning Medicare from something earned by a lifetime of work into a welfare program- a giant step toward making it unpopular enough to eliminate it entirely.  That, of course, is and always has been the Republican goal.

Social Security in brief

• Require the President to submit a plan to shore up the Social Security Trust Fund.
• Require Congress to submit a plan of its own.

Meaningless, of course.  And let me remind you that Social Security has absolutely nothing to do with the Federal budget.

Federal-workforce retirement in brief

• Reform civil-service pensions.

i.e. cut pensions.  Government workers spent their entire working lives earning these pensions.  It is the Republican plan to steal these earned benefits from them, to pay for tax cuts for the rich and corporations

• Reform the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Another way to say that Republicans intend to stab workers in the back, by walking away from Federal pension guarantees.

Energy in brief

• Restore competition to the energy sector with the goal of energy independence.

No regulations on oil and coal companies; damn the health costs- that's your own problem.

• Stop the government from buying up unnecessary land.

Don't spend a dime on anyone but the rich, no matter what it's for.

Housing in brief

• Wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.This budget will end corporate welfare in the housing sector. It seeks to drastically decrease the market dominance of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by gradually ending their government guarantees and taxpayer subsidies.

Do away with institutions which, for decades, have helped millions of middle class families buy houses, but which have done nothing for the rich; and incidentally, despite Republican lies to the contrary, institutions which had essentially nothing to do with the 2008 economic collapse.

• Reform the Federal Credit Reform Act.

Make mortgages for ordinary families harder to get and more expensive.

Financial services in brief

• Revisit flawed financial regulations.

Less regulation- always popular with Republicans

Health care in brief

• Repeal the President’s health-care law.

Of course- they wouldn't leave this out, even though it will cost hundreds of billions of dollars every year for Republicans to have this tantrum.

• Move toward patient-centered reform.

Make it harder to sue medical organizations; prevent States from regulating insurance companies; change from guaranteed health care programs to block grants that will not cover medical expenses.  That really is "patient centered," huh?

Cutting spending in brief

• Cap spending.

Fire government workers and cut the pay of the ones that are left.

• Eliminate waste.

Absolutely nothing of any consequence- just the usual Republican blather about unidentified waste.

Defense in brief

• Provide $560.2 billion for defense spending in fiscal year 2014, an amount consistent with America’s military goals and strategies.

More money spent on military contractors, despite our grotesquely bloated military budget.

• Fully fund our nation’s commitment to veterans.

A proposal without details, representing nothing but the usual Republican posturing about "the troops;" it will be totally ignored by Republicans.

                              Paul Ryan- Tackling the tough issues as usual

Well, there you go.  Just one more cynical demonstration by Republicans that they don't give a God damn for anyone but the rich, and one more attempt to shove a deceitful, criminal theft of the nation's resources down the throats of the American people.  Nevertheless, it will be hailed by the mainstream press as a bold, serious attempt to deal with our nation's financial situation, massively increasing the chances that the country will slit its own throat by enacting any of this disingenuous, vicious nonsense.

Note: in case you want to torture yourself further, you can read this sickening document here.


Magpie said...

GE, why do they put out something that is so transparent?

Is this just to keep Ryan in front of the public so that some version of him seeps into their consciousness, like a slow leak from a septic tank, in preparation for something later on?

Or do they want these ‘ideas’ on intermittent replay in the hope that repetition somehow makes something sound less stupid?

Green Eagle said...

They put out these ideas because that is what they get paid to do. The assumption is that, if they just keep demanding more for the rich year after year after year, they will eventually wear down their opponents and they will get what they want.

So far, it's worked out pretty well for them.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Holy Mackerel, Son of Cthulhu and the Almighty Cod, the Green Eagle hath put a lot of work into this fine post. Awesome!

It gives me renewed respect for the irony of your handle – our national bird bedecked in the color of our national obsession: Money!