Ryan Budget Would Crush the American Dream

Robert Borosage

The Republican budget – released by House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan – is a remarkably revealing document. The budget document says it is time for America to choose. And with this document, Republicans choose to be the tribunes of the 1 percent, willing to destroy basic elements of the American dream in service of that cause.

Consider:

  • At a time of extreme inequality – with the top 1 percent capturing a staggering 93 percent of all income gains in 2010 – Republicans would dramatically lower taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and by definition raise them on working families.They don’t actually admit to that, of course. But they lower top income tax rates and sustain lower rates on wealth (capital gains, dividends) while claiming their reforms will raise as much money (be revenue neutral) by eliminating unspecified loopholes and tax breaks. That means they must go after the biggest deductions – either limit the mortgage deduction for middle class homeowners or cut the tax benefits for employer provided health care, both reforms that would directly hit working families.
  • With health care costs soaring and employers cutting back on health insurance benefits, the Republican budget would add millions to the rolls of the uninsured by eliminating the health care reforms, with no program in its place.
  • With boomers headed into retirement and soaring Medicare and Medicaid the essential cause of projected deficits, Republicans address the problem not by limiting health care costs, but by requiring seniors to pay more. They would turn Medicare into a voucher or “premium support” program that would not keep up with health care costs, forcing seniors to pay thousands more out of their own pockets. Worse, they would cut Medicaid support drastically for the most vulnerable – the impoverished, the disabled, and the terminally ill.
  • With the U.S. spending almost as much on its military as the rest of the world combined, Republicans demand that we raise, not pare, Pentagon spending.
  • With our basic infrastructure – from roads to schools to sewage systems – in dangerous decline, the construction industry flat on its back, and interest rates near record lows, Republicans call for spending less, not more on rebuilding America, rendering our economy less competitive and our streets less safe.
  • With global corporations growing ever more adept at using transfer pricing and overseas tax havens to avoid taxes here at home, Republicans would make the entire world outside the U.S. a corporate tax haven, encouraging companies to move jobs and book profits abroad.
  • With college tuition soaring and more and more being priced out of the education they have earned and need, Republicans solve the problem by cutting back on student loan programs.

Today every element of the American dream – a secure job with American wages and benefits, an affordable home, a good education and affordable college for the kids, a secure retirement, health care for the family – is growing out of reach for more and more Americans. If adopted, the Republican budget plan would not save the dream, it would crush it.

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