Budgetary Insanity

Turn Medicare into voucher-care. Instead of expanding Medicaid to cover the working poor increasingly unable to obtain employer-sponsored or market-rate health insurance, cut it by half of current levels and turn it into a bloc grant for states to do whatever they please with. Rob the middle class of a marketplace to compare and buy private insurance at an affordable rate. Cut food stamps for needy children and families by 20%. Let Defense spending balloon by a half a trillion dollars. Don't ask the multinationals and the super rich to pay a penny more - in fact in some instances, cut their taxes.

If that sounds insane, it is. But if that also sounds familiar, it should. It is Paul Ryan's Path to Poverty - also known as the House Republican budget. Ryan was defiant in the face of the verdict of the American people, who not only rejected his ticket but even more overwhelmingly rejected the ideas he and his party offered in the last election - the same ideas put on steroid in this budget:
At a news conference on Tuesday morning in the Capitol, Mr. Ryan was asked why his plan included so many elements that voters appeared to reject in November when they elected Mr. Obama over the Romney-Ryan ticket.

“So the question is,” Mr. Ryan responded, “the election didn’t go our way — believe me I, I know what that feels like — that means we surrender our principles? That means we stop believing in what we believe in?”
Actually, Mr. Ryan, no one gives a damn what you believe in. You are an employee of the people, and you need to care about what we believe in. Elections are the way democracies decide which policies we like, and which ones we don't. What you believe in has been rejected by the American people - so you don't have to stop believing in it, but you do have to stop trying to enact the ideas that have been rejected soundly by the American people at the ballot box. You can go on believing that when the most profitable industry in history collects federal taxpayer subsidies, it is "job creation" but that when a family accepts food stamps for their children, they are being "takers"; no one gives a damn. But the American people have spoken, and we have said that you can no longer use that belief as a basis for national policymaking.

I could spend a bunch of time describing why the Ryan budget is bad for country, why it expands the Republican on-your-own government philosophy for the poor and a cushy embrace of the wealthy, and why it shouldn't see the light of day. But I think that we all get it. We all get that the Republican dogmatism and their makers-vs-takers philosophy has not changed even a little bit since the election. We all get that they still see anyone trying to work their way onto the middle class and demanding a fair shot as moocher.

I will follow this up during the rest of the week with a blow-by-blow analysis of Ryan's budget, but right now, let me just say that the Republican attempt to "sound" nicer and have better "messaging" just fell apart with the release of this document. If the Republican party still believes that it was their rhetoric, rather than their policies, that caused their electoral defeat in 2012, they are dumber than I thought. It is the Ryan budget - not what people thought it said, but what it actually said - that was responsible in large part for the Republicans' electoral failures.

Paul Ryan and his party may want to hang onto their supply side beliefs, and that the way to prosperity is to rob the poor of opportunities and lifelines, but the country does not believe that anymore. The demographic shift is more than shift in the skin-tone makeup of America. It is a shift in values: more young people, more women, more people of color believe in a stronger social safety net, a more active and effective government to help the needy and provide ladders of opportunity for all, and a more equitable system that asks those who most benefit from society's riches to contribute fairly to strengthen the Constitutional promise of general welfare.

The new, emerging voting majority did not simply vote against the Republican party because of nasty comments, but because of what lurked under those nasty comments: a nasty, repugnant philosophy of preserving the privileged few at the cost of the great many. That emerging majority believes in fiscal discipline and shared sacrifice, but we believe the sacrifice has to be shared fairly by the super rich, and we believe that government exists to help those who need it and to level the playing field for all. We do not believe that spending is the solution to all of society's ills, but we will not stand for divesting from our future.

So, if we are talking about beliefs, Mr. Ryan, there you have it. We do not believe what you believe. And until your party changes its beliefs, we will not be changing our disdain for it.


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