A budget proposal purporting to be from Paul Ryan, and which was overly-draconian in its cuts to the poor, elderly and needy, was released on April 1 and largely perceived to be an April Fools Day joke. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the real thing.
The suggested budget is now basically the official Republican proposal. Like all budgets, this one is convoluted in its minutiae, so the simplest way to summarize it is -- envision any service to the poor and eliminate it. Then, envision any benefits to the wealthy, and increase it. Okay, you now understand the Ryan budget.
I'm not being all that facetious.
It repeals the Affordable Care Act. That eliminates $2 trillion.
It privatizes Medicare. Another huge "savings."
It restructures Medicaid and lessens block grants, cutting $732 billion.
It cuts $125 billion over a decade from SNAP food stamps.
It cuts spending on housing subsidies, anti-poverty programs, child tax credits, income assistance to families in need, and cuts in education to Pell Grants, eliminating another almost-$1 trillion.
There are, however, some increases, like $43 billion to defense spending, even though the Pentagon hasn't requested any increase.
And there's good news for lovers of tax cuts -- albeit for the top income brackets and corporate rates.
Again, I'm serious about this. It was not an April Fools Day joke.
Mind you, the good thing about this proposal is that Paul Ryan has at least clarified for the American public with specifics the reasons his former running mate Mitt Romney said that 47% was never going to vote for them.
The only remaining question though, after seeing this budget proposal, is why 52 of the remaining 53% would now vote for them either. This does assume they care about the needy, elderly, children, and those sick. Yes, yes, I know that one presumes conservatives do not, although that's an unfair assumption -- after all, so many of the far right overlap with the religious right, so you have to figure that they actually do believe in the precepts of Jesus Christ as they so often proclaim.
You also have to figure that far more people are negatively impacted by these spending cuts than those who benefit from the high-end tax cuts, corporate tax cuts and defense increases. But then, one of the inexplicable miracles of the past half-century has been how the GOP has convinced so many people to vote against their own self-interests.
Still, this budget is pretty easy to follow and makes awfully clear what Republican policies truly are, despite the lip service they pay to people in need. It's all there in black and white.
Though mostly in white.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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