Saying it willingly accepts “mindless” cuts of the sequester, the budget proposal from U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R, WI-1), chairman of the House Budget Committee, guarantees the loss of 2 million jobs and favors wealthy Americans at the expense of average middle class families, according to U.S. Reps. Xavier Becerra (D, CA-34) and Donna Edwards (D, MD-4).
“This is Romney’s comeback, we see him in the letters and words of the Ryan Republican budget,” said Becerra on a Center for American Progress conference call Monday morning. “This is essentially the budget that Republican candidates Ryan and Romney ran on, and they were rejected by the voters because it favors the very wealthy at the expense of the middle class.”
Ryan and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, released competing budgets last week, and politicians from both sides of the political spectrum were quick to draw lines in the sand. Both chambers are expected to vote on the budget proposals this week.
“The Ryan budget really does go after social safety nets and has a particularly devastating impact on minority communities,” said Edwards.
Edwards added that Ryan’s budget aims to “starve the federal government to permanently reduce the role the government plays in public investments” such as “the safety net, education, research, and the list goes on and on.”
With the national debt standing at approximately $16.7 trillion, U.S. budget deficits have exceeded $1 trillion annually over the past four years.
Murray’s budget, called “Foundation For Growth,” is the first budget from Senate Democrats in four years. It calls for $1 trillion in new tax revenues, shrinks the deficit by $1.85 trillion over 10 years and deactivates sequester cuts. It dedicates $100 billion in new spending to economic stimulus such as rebuilding roads, bridges and schools. It also raises $975 billion in tax revenue by eliminating tax deductions and loopholes that benefit the wealthy.
Ryan’s budget aims to reduce the federal deficit by $4.6 trillion over 10 years. Called “The Path to Prosperity,” it includes cuts to social services, such as Medicaid, keeps the sequester cuts in place and repeals the Affordable Care Act. It trims $249 billion from non-defense discretionary funding, and provides a tax cut for America’s wealthiest households by reducing the highest tax rate from 39.6 percent to 25 percent.
“The working families would bear the brunt of the Ryan Republican budget if his efforts are successful,” Edwards said. “Representative Ryan keeps saying that his budget is a reflection of our values, but I don’t know whose values he’s talking about.”
Ryan spoke about his budget Sunday on CBS, saying “it’s a responsible, balanced budget.”
“We know that in a debt crisis you pull the rug out from people living on the safety net and you cut seniors in retirement. This is what we’re trying to avoid,” he said.
“The purpose of having a reasonable, balanced budget like we’re proposing is to prevent a debt crisis from happening in the first place. If we keep kicking the can down the road, if we follow the President’s lead, or if we pass the Senate Democrats’ budget then we will have a debt crisis, then everybody gets hurt.”
But one researcher said Ryan’s budget is a “very austere vision” for America.
“The insane amount of cutting that he’s calling for is absolutely undoable given our economy’s weakness right now,” said Rebecca Thiess, budget policy analyst for the Economic Policy Institute, in an interview with Progress Illinois. “The Republicans are trying to sell to the American people that cuts are necessary because we have such runaway projected debt levels, but his budget doesn’t actually target what our debt levels actually come from, which is projected health costs.”
Thiess said the Economic Policy Institute helped draft the House Progressive Caucus budget, called “Back To Work.” In stark contrast to Ryan’s budget, the Progressive Caucus budget includes a $4.2 trillion tax hike and $2.1 trillion in economic stimulus and investment from 2013 to 2015. Saying that it would create 7 million jobs in the first year, the budget is set to decrease the deficit by $4.4 trillion over 10 years. It would also increase the highest tax rate from 39.6 percent to 49 percent.
Ryan’s budget is likely to pass in the House though, according to Thiess, but it will “go nowhere” after that.
“Paul Ryan’s budget is saying ‘no budget deficit’ is what we should be pursuing right now,” she said. “It has no regard for what we need given our current economic context, which is jobs and economic growth. We’ve got 12 million Americans unemployed and what the American people need isn’t getting their safety net crushed right now.”
Today's conference call also touched on how the Ryan budget would especially impact minority communities.
“It’s urgent that our national leaders understand the depths of the challenges communities of color face,” said Vanessa Cárdenas, vice president of Progress 2050 Action at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, who noted the U.S. Census projection that by 2043 majority of people in America will be people of color. “(Ryan’s) budget is problematic because instead of focusing on how to make sure the American dream is available to the next generation of American’s, we’re actually having a conversation about cutting programs like Head Start.”
Cárdenas said significant economic barriers, such as a staggering wealth gap and increasing unemployment rates, need to be addressed by legislators.
Today the Center For American Progress released a column, titled “How the Ryan Budget Will Affect Communities of Color,” saying Ryan’s budget would excessively affect minority communities.
“While low-income communities and communities of color are expected to take the biggest hit from the budget, Rep. Ryan wants to offer enormous tax relief to the wealthiest individuals and corporations,” the report reads.
According to the Center For American Progress, 13.8 percent of African-Americans and 9.7 percent of Hispanics were unemployed in January, while only 7 percent of whites experienced unemployment.
The report cites Ryan’s proposed funding cuts for certain programs, such as Pell Grants, as one example of his budget having a disproportionate impact on minority communities.
Almost half of Pell Grant recipients in 2011 were minority, with 24 percent of grants going to African-Americans and 21.5 percent going to Latinos.
“Rep. Ryan intends to make the majority of Americans sacrifice so he can offer extravagant tax breaks for the wealthy” the report reads. “It is clear that this budget is not a balanced approach to meeting our fiscal needs, and once again communities of color will suffer the most.”
Image: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster