Thursday, April 7, 2011

Paul Ryan's Budget Proposal

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 05:  U.S. Rep. Paul Rya...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Wisconsin Republican and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan compares his recently introduced budget plan to the proposals for welfare reform enacted during the 1990s.

“This budget,” Ryan proclaimed, “extends those successes . . . to ensure that America’s safety net does not become a hammock that lulls able-bodied citizens into lives of complacency and dependency.”

I agree with Washington Post contributor Ruth Marcus: when she say “Paul Ryan is wrong about the safety net.” ” Nothing justifies spending nearly $700 billion to extend tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans while cutting even more, $771 billion, of health care for the poorest."

Here's some other information Marcus shares:

  • Adults without children get no federal help for health coverage, even if they are living below the poverty level ($10,890 in 2011). The health-care law would expand Medicaid coverage to poor childless adults in 2014, but, of course, Ryan would undo that change.
  • The average household receiving food stamps gets about $133.70 a month ($4.46 a day) for each family member, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. To be eligible for food stamps, a household’s income must be no more than 130 percent of the poverty level ($23,800 for a family of three). Except during economic downturns, childless adults generally are limited to three months of help.
  • Half of Medicare beneficiaries had incomes less than $21,000 in 2010, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That low figure is skewed in part because of the paltry median income ($14,387) among Medicare recipients with disabilities, but the median income among those 65 to 74 was just $26,255. Americans older than 75 live on even less.

  • Ryan says he would transform Medicaid into a block grant for states — but the amount would grow only with population and overall inflation. Because health care costs have tended to grow faster, the states over time would inevitably end up cutting poor people off their rolls and limiting benefits for the ones who remain. In a downturn, with state budgets strapped and more people in need, the change would hit hardest, in contrast to the current countercyclical effect of Medicaid. He would turn the food stamp program into a block grant as well, with similarly perverse effects.
Ryan proposes to cut $6 trillion in federal spending over the next ten years by phasing out Medicare, the federal health care program that currently covers 47 million senior citizens and disabled people, ending Medicaid, the federal-state health program for the poor, and drastically cutting food stamps, education, transportation, environmental protection, food safety, farm subsidies and other services, as well as slashing the jobs and pensions of federal workers.

The more you read and understand about the Republican attack on the current health systems for the working class, you'll be more prepared to say good-bye to Medicare and Medicaid for the next generation, all the Health care benefits of the Affordable Care legislation and all the other health care benefits that every other civilized country provides for its citizens. But, at least we'll have tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 per cent of the population. Or maybe we need to wake up and smell the coffee before some of these proposals become the law of the land.


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