Mary Landrieu wasn’t the first to say it, but the idea is an important one: “A budget should reflect the values and priorities of our nation and its people.” If that is true, the two equally useless federal budget proposals currently on the table do accomplish one thing: illustrating how utterly divided we are.
The re-worked and much ballyhooed Ryan budget, and the less-flashy and virtually unknown Presidential budget, are, predictably, pretty different. The President wants to preserve social entitlements and slowly decrease spending, while the Ryan budget privatizes most large federal entailment programs and drastically reduces the size of every agency. Yes, I’m glossing over enormous amounts of detail here, but the point is that we’ve seen both ideas before.
In a report released yesterday, Families USA calculated that North Carolina alone would stand to loose more than $100 billion over the next ten years if the Ryan budget were enacted as currently written. Millions of North Carolinians would have benefits reduced, and more than a million more residents would slip into the ranks of the uninsured.
This would indeed be tragic – but it simply won’t happen. The leaders in the US Senate have already said there would be no vote on the Ryan proposal, so it will languish in the purgatory of the House-approved bills that go nowhere. Similarly, President Obama’s budget proposal will go nowhere, since it won’t get past the GOP-led House. Both budgets function as little more than a campaign platform for each side to point at, scoff, and say how theirs is a better solution.
Both proposals are not acutally that far off when you look at total spending. Take a look at this chart, which compares top-line number from both the President’s budget the the Ryan budget.
You will notice that total spending for the stripped-down, bare-bones Republican budget is at $40 trillion, and the President’s budget is at $45 trillion. I know $5 trillion is a lot of money… but not when you look at it in this context. The Republican budget trims less 9% of total spending - doesn't seem so bad, right? That's no coincidence - it's designed to not look bad.
The real danger in the Ryan budget (incidentally, the official title is the "Path to Prosperity") are the cuts, or more accurately the lack of increases, that will cause the most damage going forward. Did you notice that the Families USA study kept repeating that "over the next 10 year" all of the nasty things would happen? That's because the Ryan budget slowly drains the financing out of the federal government, rather than cut it all up front.
The Congressional Budget Office crunched the numbers on the budget last month and found that, by 2050, the budget would have reduced the size of government to 15% of the economy. As the Atlantic puts it, as a share of GDP, this would effectively reduce the size of the government to what it was in 1950.
…Ryan would cut 40 percent from transportation, 40 percent from education and training, 30 percent from “income security” programs for the poor, and 24 percent from veterans, as Brad Plumer pointed out. It’s that his long-term budget, if you project forward defense spending, would cut 91 percent from these and all other non-defense programs. Ninety-one percent.
So, we've gone to an arguably reasonable 9% cut to a ridiculous 91% cut in 10 years. Looking slightly more ghoulish, don't you think?
This is all a long way of saying that Dracula is to blood what Paul Ryan is to your future – and he sure looks like he’s getting hungry.