Most major media outlets are at the time of this post reporting that Mitt Romney intends to select Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate. As such, now is a good time to take a look at Ryan’s cowardly record of proposing to abolish Medicare and raise taxes on the middle class, while providing more tax giveaways to the wealthy, all under the guise of being a fiscal conservative.
Any discussion of Paul Ryan and fiscal issues should start with the fact that he has zero credibility as a “deficit hawk.” For example, Ryan supported every deficit-inducing Bush tax cut and tax cut extension, voted for the unfunded prescription drug expansion of Medicare and supported military ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan that weren’t paid for
Over the past few years, however, Ryan has tried to fabricate a record as a fiscal conservative by issuing a series of budget plans, including the 2010 Roadmap to America’s Future and the 2012 Path to Prosperity. In reality, Paul Ryan’s proposals should be called the Path to Higher Deficits and a Weaker Middle Class. For example, the folks at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained that Ryan’s 2010 budget proposal would:
* Raise taxes on three-quarters of Americans, including any family with an annual income between $20,000 and $200,000 by, among other things, replacing the corporate income tax with an 8.5% value added tax that would hit middle class families the hardest
* Provide massive tax giveaways to the wealthiest two percent through elimination of the estate tax and capital gains taxes, reduction of the top tax brackets, and repeal of the corporate income tax. Households with annual incomes of more than $1 million would receive an average tax break of $502,000.
* Abolish Medicare for people currently under 55 years of age, and replace it with an inadequate voucher that would shrink in comparison to expected health care cost increases for people to try to purchase insurance on the market. A Congressional Budget Office analysis found that Ryan’s proposed elimination of Medicare would cost seniors between $7,000 and $13,000 per year while eliminating much of the cost savings achieved through the existing Medicare system.
* Cut Social Security benefits by 16% by 2050 and 28% by 2080, while blowing a $1.2 trillion hole in the Social Security Trust Fund in order to shift people to privatized accounts.
* Eliminate Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and replace them with a tax credit and a voucher that would be insufficient for many lower income folks to purchase insurance.
* Lead to an increase in the national debt from its 2010 level of 60% of GDP to a peak of nearly 175% by 2050 and remain at 100% or more of GDP through 2080.
Despite these facts, many in the media will almost certainly continue to pretend that Paul Ryan’s budget proposals are somehow “brave” and “serious.” For people who claim that, we ask:
* What is brave and serious about a Republican using deficits that conservatives created to propose abolishing Medicare, and replacing it with a program that would cost more to implement while leaving most seniors without quality health care?
* What is brave and serious about a Republican proposing a deficit “reduction” plan that would eliminate the tax on wealthy estates and lower taxes on the wealthiest Americans, while raising taxes on the poor and working class?
* What is brave and serious about a Republican proposing a deficit “reduction” plan that puts almost all of the burden of spending cuts on the middle class, working class, and poor?
* What is brave and serious about a Republican proposing a deficit “reduction” plan that relies on cooking the books and using ridiculous assumptions?
The simple fact is that Paul Ryan’s budget proposals are cowardly, as they simply go along with the interests of the Republicans’ billionaire funders while ignoring the role that conservative economic policies played in creating the deficits, eviscerating middle class security, and undermining our economy. And if Romney chooses Ryan as his running mate, Multiple Choice Mitt will simply be confirming that he prioritizes abolishing Medicare, privatizing Social Security, and providing billionaires with even more tax giveaways over any sort of serious effort to address the deficit in a balanced way.
If Ryan and Romney wanted to show they were “brave” and “serious” they would acknowledge that economic growth is the primary short term way to reduce the deficit, and that asking the wealthy to pay their fair share, cuts to military spending cuts and corporate subsidies, increased immigration, and the types of sensible efficiencies promoted by health care reform are what are necessary to achieving long term fiscal sanity. Unfortunately, Ryan and Romney are neither brave nor serious. Instead, they are just Cowardly Lions, but without a heart.