The most mean spirited and absurd budget came out today while the Republicans are threatening to shut down the government. Yes, we know politicians, both parties, are all bought and paid for, corrupt as hell, but a government shut down? This affects real people and the real economy, not just federal workers but all of the Americans who rely on them. All federal workers except emergency services go unpaid, but guess who still collects their paycheck? Why the ones who caused it, our President and our lovely Congress. Yes, Congress collects paychecks while they get us into this mess with their power driven political game of chicken. Literally instead of being able to fiscally manage, politicians are placing bets on who will win in the opinion polls, based on 1995. Below is yet another example of politics versus the economic effects in a very fragile economy.
Representative Paul Mr. Ridiculous Ryan introduced the top 11 idiotic ideas under the guise of a budget. Here they are summarized below:
- Repeal Obamacare, which is empty rhetoric, meaningless
- Screw the Baby Boomers and Privatize Medicare
- Screw the Poor and Reduce Medicare
- Screw Retirement and Privatize Social Security
- Screw the Poor, Middle Class with 10% automatic tax on nonliving wages or a 25% for anyone making over $50,000
- Give Corporations carte blanche with a 0% tax rate
- Freeze Discretionary Spending, aka screw the environment, regulations, protections and of course NPR
- Cap spending to 20% of GDP, all the while damaging the overall economy
- Only a merger $78 billion cut in Defense Spending
- Screw Job Retraining and Encourage more privatization
- Privatize Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae
If you don't like that assessment, Ezra Klein was a tad more polite in his summary, why I don't know. Pretty much anything that helps the poor, such as food stamps, is targeted.
This is the same ole, same ole of giving corporations exactly whatever they want and destroying what is left of any social safety nets.
Paul Krugman is so annoyed he calls it Ryan the Ridiculous.
What's the real problem here? The problem is we have a corrupt government, yet voting in more corrupt politicians into office it gets even worse, resulting in pure economic fiction and insanity.
There are two ways that government spending on health care can go down. Either health care itself is getting less expensive, or the government is just paying for less of it. Hint: it’s not the former.
A private health insurance plan covering the standardized benefit would, CBO estimates, be more expensive currently than traditional Medicare. Both administrative costs (including profits) and payment rates to providers are higher for private plans than for Medicare. Those higher costs would be offset partly but not fully by savings from lower utilization. . . . Moreover, CBO projects that total health care spending for a typical beneficiary covered by the standardized benefit under the proposal would grow faster than such spending for the same beneficiary in traditional Medicare under either of CBO’s longterm scenarios.
So instead, what’s happening is the government is just paying for less health care. It’s doing this because the vouchers are designed to grow in value more slowly than the cost of health care. That’s where all of the cost savings come from.
Think about it. Does this accomplish anything? Yes, we have added a positive amount to the government’s fiscal balance. But we have done it by taking a larger amount from our aggregate household fiscal balance.
Zerohedge wrote a first pass analysis on this proposal and notes it's a glorified magic wand on savings claimed.
Here's what the Economic Policy Institute had to say about Ryan's budget:
The Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget, Republican Paul Ryan, released a proposed budget for fiscal year 2012 that rehashes failed economic thinking and the standard wish-list of right-wing policies. This budget is not a serious attempt to govern, but a warming over of long-dead economic proposals.
The budget, among other things, includes a plan to privatize Medicare by forcing recipients to buy insurance on the open market, to gut Medicaid by shifting costs to states and reducing funding, to cut taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals, and to reduce the nation’s ability to make needed investments by capping overall levels of federal spending. The plan would not only put the fragile recovery at risk, but it would also undermine economic growth and job creation for years.
This budget is impressive in its ability to not only inflict maximum harm on the economy, but to concentrate that harm on those most in need. This will not only cost the economy hundreds of thousands (and perhaps millions) of jobs over the next five years, it will also destroy the social safety net and undermine policies that support the middle class. --John Irons
Even the Washington Post is saying the savings are fiction:
Indeed, looking through Paul Ryan’s budget document (which has a lot more rhetoric than it has hard numbers), I see at least two obvious causes for skepticism. The first is that Ryan is counting on considerable budget savings — $1.4 trillion over the decade — by repealing the Affordable Care Act. Of course, the CBO has said that ACA will be a net budget winner over the next decade, and a major winner after that. Is Ryan using honest CBO numbers, but just juggling the presentation? Or is he simply ignoring neutral evaluations of the effects of health care reform? Ryan couldn’t explain the numbers during his press conference today.
The second clue is that Ryan refers (on page 59 of the proposal) to “dynamic” scoring of taxes. This, of course, is the same supply-side nonsense that Republicans have been peddling since 1981. It’s easy to show major deficit reductions if you slash taxes but pretend that it will yield revenue increases, but in reality, of course, it increases the deficit.
Tim Fernholz, meanwhile, points out another flaw: It’s one thing to set up budget targets or “caps” for the future, but quite another to actually hit them. It’s fair to credit Ryan and the Republicans with supporting real cuts even if they are talking about specific measures that have no chance of winning the support of the Democratic Senate and President Obama. But it’s a lot harder to know what to make of budget caps unaccompanied by specific program cuts.
In the midst of this political propaganda and posturing this comes by way of Angry Bear:
In the midst of a fight about the budget deficit, Congress is poised to shut down federal websites that tell the public how the government spends our money. It's ironic and disappointing. Websites like USAspending.gov and Data.gov have started to make government more transparent. But just when things are starting to get better, Congress wants to take us backward. Members of Congress love to talk about transparency, but the spending bill being negotiated right now would slash funding for vital transparency programs by 94 percent. Agencies are already making contingency plans to shut down the sites if their funding is cut so drastically. Congress is set to vote on the budget this week. Incredibly, Congress wants to cut the Electronic Government Fund even though it represents only 0.002 percent of the deficit. But this tiny slice of the budget pays big dividends: sites like USAspending.gov help citizens and government watchdogs spot wasteful spending and other abuses – and deter them from happening in the first place. We can't afford to not know how our money is being spent. Meanwhile, Congress hasn't held a single hearing to debate the destructive impact these cuts would have on government openness.
It's bad enough we have politicians and media trying to claim up is down and trickle upon is sprinkle upon, but one of the targets by the GOP is anything that informs the public.