Tara McGuinness of the Center for American Progress has reviewed the GOP budget, "Path to Prosperity," proposed yesterday by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, and she is not happy with what she's found so far. She offered an analysis to the Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.
According to McGuiness, the budget seems driven merely to "serve the rich." McGuinness said, "The Republicans’ plan walls off from consideration millions of dollars that go to the most powerful and wealthy Americans and companies through tax cuts, subsidies and benefits. At the same time, the oldest and frailest Americans, and those who are living on the edge, will see their lives impacted by dramatic cuts. If that isn’t the strong preying on the weak, I don’t know what is." The budget plan, announced Tuesday, would change Medicare into a voucher-based system, drastically overhaul the tax code, repeal Obama's healthcare reform and scale back many social welfare programs by converting them into block grants.
A closer look at the accounting of “The Path to Prosperity,” reveals that the House Republican budget lets the bullies win, at the stake of well, everyone else: the middle class, seniors, working families and the poor.
A quick tally of who wins and who loses in the Republican budget looks like this:
* For the 1%, it provides more than 3 trillion dollars of tax cuts for the rich and wealthy companies;
* For big oil, it keeps in place $40 billion in tax giveaways;
* For seniors, it shreds the health care services they are counting on – driving up costs, ending Medicare as we know it;
* For the working poor, it cuts efforts to help struggling families get back on their feet, it ends meals for families amid deep job losses including $1 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program;
* For the disabled and children at risk, it leaves them on their own.
Updated: Cautioning that Ryan's plan was "light on specifics," Kathy Saile, Director of Domestic Social Development for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that judging by the dollar figure of the cuts Ryan was proposing, she did not believe the House proposal would meet the criteria for a just budget proposed by the U.S.C.C.B. in a recent letter to Congress. In that March 7 letter, Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, and Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, who lead U.S.C.C.B. justice and peace efforts, wrote that Congress should base decisions on the federal budget on whether they protect or threaten human life and dignity, whether they put the needs of the hungry, the homeless and the unemployed first and whether they reflect the shared responsibility of government and other institutions to promote the common good of all, especially "workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times."
Said Saile, "The cuts [Ryan proposes] are deep and there's no increase proposed in revenue, so it seems like [cuts] will have to go to programs for poor and vulnerable people." Saile said the U.S.C.C.B. will be tracking the proposal closely as budget hearings begin in the House, "working closely with the Circle of Protection," an ecumenical effort aimed at protecting international and domestic spending on poverty relief and human development.
According to McGuiness, the House budget proposal could mean that millions of people would lose nutrition assistance "that stands between them and hunger." She says beyond the impact on hunger, "for every $1 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, 13,718 jobs are lost and 16.2 billion meals are put at risk for low-income families."
And if the dire numbers she forecasts isn't enough of a convincer, well, there's always good old Catholic guilt. "My whole life I have been taught to stand up when the strong and the powerful attempt to trample over everyone else," McGuinness said. "Rep. Paul Ryan grew up Catholic, just like me, so it is surprising that his budget reflects none of these values we learned as children. The driving principle behind the Republican House budget that he drafted appears to be: let the strong and powerful benefit at the expense of everyone else, especially the poor and those in need."
I've e-mailed the USCCB to see if they are preparing a response to the House proposal and will update here if it does so.