Washington, D.C. — House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R–WI) budget contains the same tested and failed top-down policies that benefit the wealthiest individuals and corporate interests at the expense of middle- and working-class families, according to an analysis released today by the Center for American Progress.
For the fourth consecutive year, the House Republican budget proposes dismantling traditional Medicare and slashing investments that drive our economy, all while cutting taxes for the rich and protecting taxpayer subsidies for big business and oil companies. However, Rep. Ryan’s most recent budget launches an even larger attack on critical social safety net programs than in years past, pulling the rug out from under working-class families living in or at the brink of poverty.
“A federal budget should be judged on whether it expands or contracts opportunity for all Americans. By that measure, the Ryan budget fails and fails miserably,” said Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress. “It continues the well-worn conservative path of offering massive tax cuts for the wealthy while proposing massive cuts to health care and nutrition aid for the poor. Simply put, it will exacerbate inequality at a time when we need to expand economic growth by investing in the middle class.”
Instead of providing tax cuts to those who need them the most—America’s middle- and working-class families—the House Republican budget cuts the tax rate for the wealthiest American from 39.6 percent to 25 percentand reduces the tax rate for big corporations from 35 percent to 25 percent. Meanwhile, Rep. Ryan proposes about $1.5 trillion in Medicaid cuts, which would take health insurance away from millions of low-income Americans, and $125 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, which is more than triple even the extreme cuts contemplated in last year’s House Republican farm bill.
Similar to Rep. Ryan’s previous budgets, this year’s House Republican budget threatens to tear down traditional Medicare and replace it with a voucher system. While this year’s House Republican budget uses a different formula than last year to calculate the value of the voucher, it would still make traditional Medicare increasingly unaffordable for senior citizens. The Congressional Budget Office previously estimated that a premium support plan would increase traditional Medicare premiums by 50 percent. Seniors who could not afford the increased costs of traditional Medicare would be forced into private insurance plans, with no guarantee that they could see the doctors they prefer. Despite all the outrage from House Republicans about the changes made by the Affordable Care Act, their budget would mean that many seniors would not get to keep the insurance and doctors to which they would otherwise have access.
The latest House Republican budget also doubles down on discredited austerity, calling for enormous cuts in sectors such as infrastructure, science, and education within the nondefense discretionary budget. Rep. Ryan’s latest round of proposed cuts to these crucial middle-class investments—which are already projected to fall to historically low levels under current law—will hamper long-term economic growth and rob Americans of future economic opportunities. This goes beyond the sequester and increases the 9 percent cut below sequester levels in fiscal year 2016 to a 22 percent cut in FY 2024. Those cuts are so extreme that even House Republicans could not pass specific appropriations bills last year to implement their own budget. The House Republican budget delays its nondefense discretionary cuts until FY 2016—for which this Congress will not have to write appropriations bills—in order to avoid a repeat of that embarrassing failure.