Ryan's Radical Budget: The Triumph of "You're On Your Own" Economics
Jared Bernstein, writing for Rolling Stone, on the House GOP budget:
This budget isn’t going anywhere. The Senate won’t accept it; the president will not sign it.
So why read on? I mean, even if it was going to be implemented, it’s a rare person who’d spend his or her free time reading about a federal budget.
Here’s why: Because the House GOP budget is a strikingly clear example of where today’s conservatives are at regarding the basic role and functions of government. You need to be aware of the choices and priorities in this budget; they are not going away. They represent a threatening vein in the body politic.
As he rolled out his 2013 budget on Tuesday, Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, correctly said that he and his fellow Republicans were offering the country a choice of two very clear futures. The one he outlined in his plan could hardly be more bleak. It is one where the rich pay less in taxes than the unfairly low rates they pay now, while programs for the poor — including Medicaid and food stamps — are slashed and thrown to the whims of individual states. Where older Americans no longer have a guarantee that Medicare will pay for their health needs. Where lack of health insurance is rampant, preschool is unaffordable, and environmental and financial regulation are severely weakened.
--The New York Times, The Careless House Budget
Wisconsin Republicans Cut Education Funding. Again.
The state budget panel approved $123 million in budget cuts, and education is once again taking the biggest hit. The vote was strictly along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor of the cuts and all Democrats voting against. The cuts include:
- $46 million from the UW system. Damn.
- $227,000 from the Government Accountability Board, which was supposed to implement the new voter ID law.
- $18.6 million from the Department of Health Services, which was supposed to provide assistance to uninsured children.
- $9.5 million from the Department of Corrections, specifically programs related to juveniles and sex offenders.
Yet Another Budget Crisis for Wisconsin
The state’s budget projections have deteriorated by $216 million, opening a new budget shortfall for Gov. Scott Walker to confront amid the political dogfight of a recall election.
The state was projected to have $73 million reserved in its main account, but a drop in tax revenue means the state will likely have a deficit of $143 million. The state also faces a shortfall of $141 million required to fund Medicaid programs. Gov. Walker said he will not consider any tax increases as part of a solution to this problem.
True, the federal government has avoided all-out austerity. But state and local governments, which must run more or less balanced budgets, have slashed spending and employment as federal aid runs out — and this has been a major drag on the overall economy. Without those spending cuts, we might already have been on the road to self-sustaining growth; as it is, recovery still hangs in the balance.
The infuriating thing about this tragedy is that it was completely unnecessary. Half a century ago, any economist — or for that matter any undergraduate who had read Paul Samuelson’s textbook “Economics” — could have told you that austerity in the face of depression was a very bad idea. But policy makers, pundits and, I’m sorry to say, many economists decided, largely for political reasons, to forget what they used to know. And millions of workers are paying the price for their willful amnesia.
--Paul Krugman, The Austerity Debacle.
Scott Walker's Serious Accounting Problems
Federal law allows states to drop adults from health care programs if the state certifies that it has a budget deficit. So, despite spending months bragging about balancing the budget, Walker’s administration quietly told the federal government in December that Wisconsin actually has an undisclosed deficit.
By claiming to balance the budget, Walker wins political points, while claiming a budget deficit allows him to drop more than 53,000 adults from health care programs. And don’t forget that Walker recently rejected federal funding for health care implementation, which is reprehensible.
The Governor’s office number is 608-266-1212.
The SuperCommittee is where the final yard sale of what’s left of the New Deal is going to happen.
In the middle of the worst recession since the 1930’s, with the country being told to accept nine-percent unemployment for the foreseeable future, and income inequality swamping the middle class, the responsible point of view among the leaders of both political parties is to “reform entitlements” until what’s left is sticks and splinters because then, and only then, will the delicate, blessed “Markets” feel goody-good-good about themselves again.
--Charles Pierce, The Big Sellout. I highly recommend this article.
Democrats Offer Significant Concessions
I’ll nominate this for least surprising headline of the day. And yet, despite major concessions on the part of Democrats, Republicans still aren’t satisfied.
Although the new plan thus moves considerably closer to Republican positions than any of the bipartisan plans, Republicans have been quick to reject it. The counter-offer by Republican members of the supercommittee, reflecting little or no movement on tax increases and calling for even deeper spending cuts than in the Democratic plan — including severe Medicaid cuts that would impose significant harm on low-income children, parents, and elderly and disabled people — appears to leave little room for progress.
House Republicans have lost sight of the country’s welfare. It’s hard to conclude anything else from their latest actions, including the House speaker’s dismissal of President Obama’s plea for compromise Monday night. They have largely succeeded in their campaign to ransom America’s economy for the biggest spending cuts in a generation. They have warped an exercise in paying off current debt into an argument about future spending. Yet, when they win another concession, they walk away.
--The New York Times.