March 21, 2010
In January of this year Representative Paul Ryan, Republican, released his idea for the future of America. Since then several organizations and reporting agencies have studied the document and come to some very revealing, although not surprising, conclusions. If Ryan’s plan was adopted and put into action the working class would be devastated within a decade, and the wealthy would once again reap huge rewards.
Ryan calls his plan The Roadmap for America’s Future (PDF). Unfortunately the future wouldn’t be too bright for anyone below the top five percent of incomers. Earlier this month Talking Points Memo published “Experts: Ryan Roadmap Balloons Deficit While Taxing Middle Class, Slashing Entitlements”. In Ryan’s Roadmap he claimed the deficits would be eliminated my mid-century. But TPM says that “not even close to true”. The Congressional Budget Office graded Ryan’s plan based on projections provided by Ryan himself, which they took at face value. But there are huge flaws in his numbers.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities tells us much more on Ryan’s plan in “The Ryan Budget’s Radical Priorities”. They point out that it provides the largest tax cuts in history for the wealthy; raises middle class taxes; ends guaranteed Medicare; privatizes Social Security and erodes health care.
People earning $633,000 would have their taxes cut in half. People making more than $1 million would have their taxes cut by $502,000. And those who earn $2.9 million each year would get a tax cut worth $1.7 million.
On the opposite side of that income group, people with income between $20,000 and $200,000 would get to see their taxes increase. Hooray, hooray! If you’re one of those making between $50,000 and $75,000 you’d get to pay an extra $900 each year in taxes.
The study by the Center says “the plan would shift tax burdens so substantially from the wealthy to the middle class that people with incomes over $1 million would face much lower effective tax rates than middle-income families would. That is, they would pay much smaller percentages of their income in federal taxes”. Hey — what more could you ask for if you’re in the top 5 percent of incomers? It couldn’t get much better. Ryan is their current BFF. (PDF of the Centers report.)
Of course Ryan responded to the Center’s report defending his plan. But the Center shot right back saying his response is off base. If you’re like me you’ll read all the reports, including Ryan’s roadmap and his response to the Center, rather than taking someone’s word for it. But if you do, be prepared to admit in the end that the Center is right, even if you only admit it privately to your self.
The fact is that Ryan’s plan is more than typical of a Republican’s idea of how America should operate — screw the hell out of the working class and give it all to the wealthy. In fact, Ryan’s plan is so far out there that several members of the Republican party won’t publicly support his plan. That’s understandable — many of them are up for re-election this year too. But they’d love to have at least one of Ryan’s ideas implemented — privatizing Social Security. They, along with Bush II, were desperately trying to do that in 2004. But when the financial crisis hit in 2008, the advocates ran for the hills. The crisis showed exactly what would happen to Social Security money if privatized. Slate.com gave us a step by step rundown on what would have happened had the deal went through before 2008. But there are too many trillions to steal to give up on it completely. It’s just that Ryan started pushing his idea a bit too soon. He should have waited another year or so at which time we common folks will be so re-programmed we’ll think the crisis was our fault.
Never underestimate the difficulty of changing false beliefs [with] facts.
Economist Henry Rosovsky