Archived Story

Want austerity or growth?

Published 9:50am Friday, March 15, 2013

Finally. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have each prepared a budget for fiscal 2014. It is about time.

The President is late on providing his budget, having tied up his budget folks in small things like working to avoid the sequestration budget and restoring a small portion of the Bush eviscerated tax base.

The House and Senate budgets could not be more different. Paul Ryan, the architect of the last few House budgets including this latest version, has arguably presented the most radically destructive budget in the last half century. His budget, assured passage in the Tea Party House, argues for the type of austerity that has resulted in Europe’s continued recessions; the budget attacks the most vulnerable in our society with cuts to food stamps, child nutrition and Medicaid.

The Ryan budget reduces tax rates to only two brackets, 10 percent and 25 percent, and protects revenue by unstated reductions in middle class tax deductions like the mortgage deduction (though specifically Ryan intentionally offers few specifics of the deductions to be ended).

The Ryan budget once again attempts to end Medicare in exchange for vouchers to seniors that save the federal government funds while passing costs on to retirees.

Do we really need to hurt the middle class even more than this economy already has? Must we, the richest nation in history, turn our backs on the poor, the hungry and our children?

Is a balanced budget more important than our values as a society?

If there are any compassionate conservatives left, and that is a doubtful proposition at best in the age of Republican Radicalism, they should speak out against this silly and absurd budget, one designed to appeal to the Ayn Rand crowd more than the American people.

Who are the winners in the Ryan budget?

Isn’t that obvious from the recent past of the Republican Party?

The winners are the richest Americans who get their taxes cut from 39.6 percent to 25 percent while the middle class pays the bill with the loss of tax deductions.

Mr. Ryan, as vice presidential candidate last year, argued that the 2012 election was a referendum on the two different approaches to government by the two major political parties. Yet his budget suggests that he has completely ignored that referendum with a plan that hurts the economy, the middle class, and the poorest Americans.

In contrast the Democrats have proposed a budget designed to expand the economy, create jobs, and invest in re-building our crumbling infrastructure. Their emphasis is on jobs and growth more than on austerity and attacks on the social safety net.

The Democrats argue, as Presidential candidate Romney did in his budget, that growing the economy is a better plan to fund government costs than shrinking the economy to balance a budget.

The truth is simple; you cannot shrink your way to a successful economy, as republicans have proposed.

And you cannot protect our aging society by ending the Affordable Care Act and limiting federal contributions to Medicare, as republicans have proposed.

Nor can you keep the nation competitive if we do not ensure our highways, ports, and airports are safe, modern, and able to accommodate the demands of commerce and private travel.

We are left with two unequal proposals.

The Republican plan is simply looking in the rear view mirror to drive forward; it is failed politics and failed policy.

The Democratic plan has won the support of the American people though the test of election and offers a path forward.

Unfortunately, until republicans suffer still more in the election booth they seem determined to ignore the voters.

 

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.

 

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