The Republican’s Social-Darwinist Budget Plan

In announcing the Republicans’ new budget and tax plan Tuesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said “We are sharpening the contrast between the path that we’re proposing and the path of debt and decline the president has placed us upon.”

Ryan is right about sharpening the contrast. But the plan doesn’t do much to reduce the debt. Even by its own estimate the deficit would drop to $166 billion in 2018 and then begin growing again.

The real contrast is over what the plan does for the rich and what it does to everyone else. It reduces the top individual and corporate tax rates to 25 percent. This would give the wealthiest Americans an average tax cut of at least $150,000 a year.

The money would come out of programs for the elderly, lower-middle families, and the poor.

Seniors would get subsidies to buy private health insurance or Medicare – but the subsidies would be capped. So as medical costs increased, seniors would fall further and further behind.

Other cuts would come out of food stamps, Pell grants to offset the college tuition of kids from poor families, and scores of other programs that now help middle-income and the poor.

The plan also calls for repealing Obama’s health-care overhaul, thereby eliminating healthcare for 30 million Americans and allowing insurers to discriminate against (and drop from coverage) people with pre-existing conditions.

The plan would carve an additional $19 billion out of next year’s “discretionary” spending over and above what Democrats agreed to last year. Needless to say, discretionary spending includes most of programs for lower-income families.

Not surprisingly, the Pentagon would be spared.

So what’s the guiding principle here? Pure social Darwinism. Reward the rich and cut off the help to anyone who needs it.

Ryan says too many Americans rely on government benefits. “We don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people into lives of dependency.”

Well, I have news for Paul Ryan. Almost 23 million able-bodied people still can’t find work. They’re not being lulled into dependency. They and their families could use some help. Even if the economy continues to generate new jobs at the rate it’s been going the last three months, we wouldn’t see normal rates of unemployment until 2017.

And most Americans who do have jobs continue to lose ground. New research by professors Emmanual Saez and Thomas Pikkety show that the average adjusted gross income of the bottom 90 percent was $29,840 in 2010 — down $127 from 2009 and down $4,842 from 2000 — and just slightly higher than it was forty-six years ago in 1966 (all figures adjusted for inflation).

They could use better schools, access to higher education, lower-cost health care, improved public transportation, and lots of other things Ryan and his colleagues are intent on removing.

Meanwhile, America’s rich continue to grow richer — and many of them (and their heirs) are being lulled into lives whose hardest task is summoning the help.

Anyone who thought the Great Recession might reduce America’s wild lurch toward wild inequality should think again. The most recent data show that just 15,600 super-rich households – the top 1 tenth of 1 percent – pocketed 37 percent of all the economic gains in 2010. The rest of the gains went to others in the top 10 percent.

Republican Social Darwinists are determined that the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 be made permanent. Those cuts saved the richest 1 percent of taxpayers (roughly 1.4 million people) more money on their taxes last year than the rest of America’s 141 million taxpayers received in total income.

Thank you, House Republicans, for “sharpening the contrast” between your radical Social Darwinism and those of us who still cling to the belief that the most fortunate have a responsibility to the rest.

This post originally appeared at Robert Reich’s Blog and is posted with permission.

3 Responses to "The Republican’s Social-Darwinist Budget Plan"

  1. Lynn   March 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Here's one for Mr Ryan, and I'll bet his boss, Grover Norquist, will love it!
    When an American reaches the age of sixty-five, shoot 'em!
    If an American contracts a lingering, chronic ailment that needs constant medical treatment, shot 'em!
    If an American is disabled through injury, shoot 'em! (Note: This includes Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. They've served their purpose; we don't need them any more.)
    Best of all, a baby born into a family at or below the poverty level is sacred human life, and must be born, but once it gets here, you could just drown it in a bucket!
    Save the cost of a bullet! The sit back and enjoy the cost savings!

    • zzz05   March 26, 2012 at 9:46 pm

      Hey you might have something there, although you are kidding but…. suppose when somebody was over 65 or severely ill, we drafted them? They'd have less to lose and would fight harder, we could put all the medical expenses under the defense department, we wouldn't have all that annoying PTSD and unemployed veterans hanging around the rest of their lives; and best of all, when we can't win and have to pull out, we can just say "Well of course, look at who's in our military" Maybe we can even shame the other side into giving up rather than embarrassing themselves by fighting old and sick folks.

  2. Lynn   March 27, 2012 at 8:51 am

    I think you're definitely on to something! And a military burial in Arlington also saves that pesky $255.00 Social Security death benefit!
    The evangelicals love to say we are a Christian nation, and , as Jesus said, "In as much as ye have done it to the least of these, thy brethren, ye have wasted MY TAX DOLLARS"