Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Why Bother Making Paul Ryan Budget Chair-- Just Let Wall Street Write The Budget Directly


Feel the bipartisan disdain for non-Insiders and non-wealthy Americans! Ryan, who has been tasked by Wall Street-- who have paid him incredibly well for the job-- with dismantling Social Security and Medicare (thanks, Wisconsin; this could be more harmful to America than what you elected to the U.S. Senate in 1946). After Ryan gets the bipartisan camaraderie flowing with an unheartfelt paean to a conservative Democrat who was defeated last month, he launches into his Wall Street script: "I believe this commission has been a success. Those who refuse to confront the challenges facing us [and by this he means the vast, vast majority of the American people who see the challenges facing us differently from the Insiders], they have no where else to hide. If they label various proposals too draconian or austere, well, they're going to have to come up with their own right now." I guess he slept though the serious and reasonable proposals that fellow commissioner Jan Schakowsky made a month ago. You can watch Ryan's entire disingenuous statement about being adult here:

In the end, the GOP strategy was to have Ryan and his two House cronies vote against the proposals because Ryan hopes he can just destroy the social safety net without making rich people pay their fair share of taxes. In his world, the dreadful Catfood Commission proposals were too balanced. He has since announced he intends to take all the draconian parts out of it and weave them into next year's budgetary process, the Republicans' plan to gut healthcare reform. Meanwhile, though, a progressive Think Tank, the Center for American Progress, has heard Ryan's clarion call for progressives to come up with their own proposal if they don't like the Catfood Commissions, and they did. They're confident that though addressing the long-term federal budget deficit is a daunting challenge, it's not an insurmountable one and their proposal to bring total government revenues into balance with total government spending-- with the exception of interest payments on the national debt-- "is achievable and would pave the way for a federal budget on a sustainable, responsible, path." And, unlike Ryan, they realistically address the revenue side of the problem. "In this report we offer revenue-generating plans that will hit four deficit-reduction targets: 33 percent of the way to primary balance in 2015, then 50 percent, 67 percent, and 100 percent. The most far-reaching of the revenue plans, the 100 percent tax revenue option, relies on seven distinct tax increases. This plan would generate $255 billion in new revenue by: Implementing a graduated surtax on adjusted gross income for households making more than half a million dollars per year" as well as
* Imposing a $10 per barrel fee on imported oil

* Returning the estate tax to pre-Bush tax cut levels—a $1 million exemption and a 55-percent rate

* Removing the cap on the employer side of the Social Security payroll tax

* Indexing the entire tax code to a better measure of inflation

* Increasing the top rate on capital gains and dividends

* Increasing the ordinary income tax rates on tax brackets between $140,000 and $380,000

These tax revenue plans are the complements to those spending cut plans outlined in our previous report. Taken together, these are five separate tax and spending plans that would put the federal budget into primary balance in 2015. The major difference between them, of course, is the varying ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases. In the abstract, some might prefer a solution that is completely, or mostly, spending cuts. With the details laid out, however, such a course seems foolish and politically impossible. The other extreme, getting to primary balance solely with new revenue, is also a highly unlikely outcome.

...Any deficit reduction plan is a balancing act between spending cuts, tax increases, the needs of the nation, and the wide range of views on which of these are most important. This report offers five different balances for getting to the 2015 target of primary balance. We believe the 50-50 plan, accompanied by a crusade to deliver government services more efficiently and effectively, offers the best option.

Meanwhile, anyone interested in helping to make sure Ryan's stink as Chairman of the House Budget Committee doesn't go beyond two years, can do so here. You can be sure the DCCC isn't going to change their stripes and start helping-- and someone has to.

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