Beyond Ryan: More Budget Maneuvers in the House

Although you’ll mostly hear about the plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan and Republican leadership, there are a number of budget proposals floating around in the U.S. House. We’ve already told you about the Progressive Caucus Budget for All. Meanwhile, tonight an Ohio Republican and a Tennessee Democrat will get a vote on a budget proposal that, while not as awful as Ryan’s, leaves a lot to be desired.

Based roughly on the Simpson-Bowles commission plan from 2010, the Cooper-LaTourette budget proposal would include some provisions that would force deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare, as well as other vital programs. It also falls short on looking for new revenue from the very wealthiest. As Joan McCarter notes, the Cooper-LaTourette plan predictably caters to D.C. conventional wisdom, asking for a lot more sacrifice from middle-class and working-class people than the very wealthy.

The Budget for All, on the other hand, is a much more ambitious and challenging document, because it asks the wealthy and powerful to bear more of the burden—a policy broadly favored by the public. What’s more, it offers some actual relief for the ongoing jobs crisis. It also includes a public option for health care and negotiating power in Medicare for prescription drugs, two policies that will help families control health-care costs. The Progressive Caucus has released full details of their budget, and we’ll be giving it a close look.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, has also released a budget proposal that protects the guarantee of Medicare, ends Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy and closes numerous loopholes that let millionaires get away with paying less than their fair share.

Let’s remember, though, that the official budget proposal of the Republicans who lead the U.S. House is Paul Ryan’s. It’s sure to get a vote soon, and it’s worth looking at some of its key provisions, just to be clear on what a mistake Representatives would be making if they voted for it. Highlights from Ryan’s parade of bad policy:

  • Millionaires, who make up considerably less than 1% of taxpayers, get 37% of the tax cuts from Ryan’s plan.

  • The 2011 financial reform bill had a provision called “resolution authority,” which allows too-big-to-fail-but-failing-anyway institutions to get dismantled rather than just bailed out. Ryan’s budget would throw that out the window.
  • Its spending cuts would be devastating to everything from mine safety enforcement to medical research to families depending on food stamps.
  • And, of course, there’s Ryan’s “morally bankrupt” demolition of the guarantee of Medicare and devastating cuts to Medicaid. Ryan says these changes “strengthen the safety net,” which is like saying replacing your car’s engine with a hamster on a wheel “strengthens your ability to drive to work.”
  • Ryan’s Wisconsin constituents are not happy with his budget plan. The rest of us shouldn’t be either.

    We’ll be watching in the coming days to see which members of Congress choose to side with the very wealthiest over the rest of us by supporting the Cooper-LaTourette plan and the even worse Ryan plan.

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