The right budget? GOP wants to kill the 'New Deal'

Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) is unapologetic about his budget proposal, which focuses on debt reduction and makes cuts that put holes in the safety net for the least wealthy Americans.AP Photo / MANUEL BALCE CENETA?
Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) is unapologetic about his budget proposal, which focuses on debt reduction and makes cuts that put holes in the safety net for the least wealthy Americans.AP Photo / MANUEL BALCE CENETA?
Posted: April 02, 2012

When President Obama in February unveiled his proposed budget, it was dismissed by Republicans as little more than a political statement because they weren't about to let Congress pass it.

Since the Republican budget, which passed Thursday in the Republican-controlled House, has no chance of getting through the Democratic-majority Senate, that must make it a political statement, too.

But, oh, what a statement.

With its emphasis on eviscerating social programs that help the poor and downtrodden while preserving current tax rates for the wealthy - all in the name of debt reduction - the budget largely crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) sends a message that shouldn't sit well with anyone who doesn't like the sound of unfairness.

Ryan and his cohort of Ayn Rand worshippers, believers in a religion that says leave it to charities to provide a social safety net, see nothing wrong in asking the poor to tighten their belts even more so the wealthy won't have to pay anything additional to the tax collector.

They are hell-bent on killing the New Deal that Franklin Delano Roosevelt crafted to ressurect the nation from the same favor-the-rich thinking that dominated politics prior to the Great Depression.

Maybe it would help to recall what FDR said in dealing with a similarly oriented Republican Party in 1932. He said there "are two ways of viewing the government's duty in matters affecting economic and social life."

The wrong view, Roosevelt said, "sees to it that a favored few are helped and hopes that some of their propserity will leak through, sift through, to labor, to the farmer, to the small-business man.

"That theory belongs to the party of Toryism," said Roosevelt, "and I hoped that most of the Tories left this country in 1776."

Unfortunately, there are still people who believe in the trickle-down theory that was resurrected by Ronald Reagan. Well, the rich have gotten richer. Where are the jobs?

To say programs serving less-affluent Americans should get less attention from budget cutters doesn't mean deficit reduction isn't important. But the better way to go about it would ask those who can afford it to pay more in taxes.

Even Southern conservatives are decrying the way Ryan's plan treats natural disasters - hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires - like any other expenditure, by requiring any relief funding that affected states may need to be offset by spending cuts elsewhere.

That's just asking for politics to play an outsize role at times when the last thing people need is more politics.

The Republican budget has more pain for the poor. It cuts Medicaid spending by $810 billion over 10 years by switching to a block-grant system - a whittling device that Gov. Corbett is also employing in Pennsylvania.

With the Congressional Budget Office pointing out those cuts will require the already cash-strapped states to step up and replace the lost funding, senior citizens and disabled Americans, the people who use Medicaid the most, have a right to be fearful.

Medicare, too, is hit in the Ryan budget, which proposes creating an alternative voucher program. Since the vouchers are unlikely to keep up with the rate of inflation in health costs, participants who can least afford it will likely find themselves trying to come up with the extra cash to pay for medical care - or do without it.

"The Republican budget proposal ends Medicare as we know it, raises taxes on middle-class families, and does nothing to create jobs or invest in our long-term economic recovery," said Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.).

She pegged it just right. FDR gave Americans a much better deal. Let's not ditch it now.

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