Ryan's Budget: A Frontal Assault on the New Deal

Wisconsin GOP Congressman and Chair of the House Budget Committee Paul Ryan has an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal in which he outlines $6.2 trillion in spending cuts from the President's budget over the next ten years. According to Rep. Ryan, his plan would put the country "on the path to prosperity." Clearly, we must have a different definition of prosperity.

The Ryan budget proposes to bring spending on domestic government agencies to below 2008 levels, and it freezes this category of spending for five years. It also would demolish Medicaid by privatizing the most successful and beloved safety net for the elderly and the poor. Of the $6.2 trillion in proposed cuts, about a fifth would come from decimating Medicaid. Jonathan Allen of Politico offers the background on why Ryan thinks he can get away with this:

Think of it like this: Medicare and Social Security are like money hidden inside locked boxes behind a vaulted door, while Medicaid is a stack of money laying on the teller’s table. Medicare and Social Security are protected by two layers. There’s the political danger of going after programs that serve Republican and “swing” voters, and GOP leaders have promised not to alter benefits for folks who are within 10 years of retirement.

“It is difficult to construct significant budget savings for the Medicare program in a five or 10 year time frame of a normal budget resolution, particularly if fundamental changes to the program — such as converting to a defined contribution plan — would not impact any individuals who are currently 10 years from qualifying for Medicare,” says Bill Hoagland, the longtime top Senate budget aide who now lobbies for Cigna. “On the other hand, federal budget savings are more easily obtained in the Medicaid program within the time frame of a budget resolution, where the policy is simply to limit the federal grant program to the states.”

Indeed, Medicaid is flush with new cash. Last year’s health care law adds $627 billion to the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (Medicaid for kids) over the next decade, according to the Joint Tax Committee. That money hasn’t been spent yet, so it’s just sitting there for the taking.

The Ryan budget also aims to lower taxes bringing the top marginal rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. It hopes to maintain a revenue-neutral approach "by clearing out a burdensome tangle of deductions and loopholes that distort economic activity." Specifics, I assume, will come at a later date but the insanity of repeating a failed economic mantra comes now.

Congressman Ryan asserts in his op-ed that "no one person or party is responsible for the looming (fiscal) crisis." Perhaps not. But the Ayn Rand-loving acolyte that is Paul Ryan should perhaps realize that his approach has been tried before and that such an approach has only engendered a deepening cleavage that has torn at the social fabric of this country. It was the New Deal that built the middle class in America ensuring a broad-based prosperity for most though certainly not all. Today's GOP with its nefarious budget is leading a final frontal assault on the New Deal and should they succeed they will plunge the country into a severe depression and tear the country apart. 

 

Ryan's Budget: A Frontal Assault on the New Deal

Wisconsin GOP Congressman and Chair of the House Budget Committee Paul Ryan has an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal in which he outlines $6.2 trillion in spending cuts from the President's budget over the next ten years. According to Rep. Ryan, his plan would put the country "on the path to prosperity." Clearly, we must have a different definition of prosperity.

The Ryan budget proposes to bring spending on domestic government agencies to below 2008 levels, and it freezes this category of spending for five years. It also would demolish Medicaid by privatizing the most successful and beloved safety net for the elderly and the poor. Of the $6.2 trillion in proposed cuts, about a fifth would come from decimating Medicaid. Jonathan Allen of Politico offers the background on why Ryan thinks he can get away with this:

Think of it like this: Medicare and Social Security are like money hidden inside locked boxes behind a vaulted door, while Medicaid is a stack of money laying on the teller’s table. Medicare and Social Security are protected by two layers. There’s the political danger of going after programs that serve Republican and “swing” voters, and GOP leaders have promised not to alter benefits for folks who are within 10 years of retirement.

“It is difficult to construct significant budget savings for the Medicare program in a five or 10 year time frame of a normal budget resolution, particularly if fundamental changes to the program — such as converting to a defined contribution plan — would not impact any individuals who are currently 10 years from qualifying for Medicare,” says Bill Hoagland, the longtime top Senate budget aide who now lobbies for Cigna. “On the other hand, federal budget savings are more easily obtained in the Medicaid program within the time frame of a budget resolution, where the policy is simply to limit the federal grant program to the states.”

Indeed, Medicaid is flush with new cash. Last year’s health care law adds $627 billion to the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (Medicaid for kids) over the next decade, according to the Joint Tax Committee. That money hasn’t been spent yet, so it’s just sitting there for the taking.

The Ryan budget also aims to lower taxes bringing the top marginal rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. It hopes to maintain a revenue-neutral approach "by clearing out a burdensome tangle of deductions and loopholes that distort economic activity." Specifics, I assume, will come at a later date but the insanity of repeating a failed economic mantra comes now.

Congressman Ryan asserts in his op-ed that "no one person or party is responsible for the looming (fiscal) crisis." Perhaps not. But the Ayn Rand-loving acolyte that is Paul Ryan should perhaps realize that his approach has been tried before and that such an approach has only engendered a deepening cleavage that has torn at the social fabric of this country. It was the New Deal that built the middle class in America ensuring a broad-based prosperity for most though certainly not all. Today's GOP with its nefarious budget is leading a final frontal assault on the New Deal and should they succeed they will plunge the country into a severe depression and tear the country apart. 

 

GOP Cuts Would Decimate Legal Aid for Low-Income Families

Not content with cutting funding for education, housing, and health-services aid for low-income families in their budget proposal, House Republicans have included a $75 million cut in legal services aid that for many low income and rural families facing foreclosure is a last line of defense.  And many of these legal aid programs are already hanging by a thread.  Via Law.com:

Law firms may be benefiting from the slow economic recovery, but legal aid groups face the most dire circumstances in decades. The problem is a perfect storm of IOLTA funding declines, cuts in state and local funding, uncertain federal support and a tight private fundraising environment. The situation is exacerbated by steep increases in demand for free legal services as millions of low-income Americans face long-term unemployment, foreclosure and other serious problems.

For example, the Legal Aid Society — which serves New York City and is the largest nonprofit legal aid provider in the country with an annual caseload of 300,000 — saw a 40% increase in people seeking assistance with health care problems, a 21% increase in those seeking help to prevent evictions and a 6% increase in those seeking domestic violence help, said attorney-in-chief Steven Banks. The organization's civil division can help only one of every nine people who ask for assistance.

According to a Legal Services Corporation press release, the cuts amount to a 17% decrease from already meager 2011 funding. 

The impact of the proposed reduction at the mid-point of a fiscal year would be devastating to the 136 nonprofit legal aid programs across the nation that receive funding from LSC. The proposed cut could result in the layoffs of at least 300 legal aid staff attorneys who help victims of domestic violence, keep families in their homes by averting unlawful foreclosures and evictions, help veterans and the disabled obtain benefits, protect the elderly and others from consumer fraud, and provide other services in civil cases. Programs would be forced to turn away cases except for those involving immediate issues of safety and security, and many programs serving rural areas would be forced to close offices.

The Brennan Center for Justice crunched some staggering numbers on the effects of the economy on civil legal aid services demand and availability.  Arkansas, for example, was estimated to have 14,000 low income residents for each legal aid attorney at the time of the 2010 study.  2007 to 2008, Arizona saw more than half of existing legal aid orgs disappear.  And funding shortages in Massachusetts left an estimated 20,000 low-income residents without access to services.

The American Bar Association President called the cuts "shocking and unacceptable."

 

GOP Cuts Would Decimate Legal Aid for Low-Income Families

Not content with cutting funding for education, housing, and health-services aid for low-income families in their budget proposal, House Republicans have included a $75 million cut in legal services aid that for many low income and rural families facing foreclosure is a last line of defense.  And many of these legal aid programs are already hanging by a thread.  Via Law.com:

Law firms may be benefiting from the slow economic recovery, but legal aid groups face the most dire circumstances in decades. The problem is a perfect storm of IOLTA funding declines, cuts in state and local funding, uncertain federal support and a tight private fundraising environment. The situation is exacerbated by steep increases in demand for free legal services as millions of low-income Americans face long-term unemployment, foreclosure and other serious problems.

For example, the Legal Aid Society — which serves New York City and is the largest nonprofit legal aid provider in the country with an annual caseload of 300,000 — saw a 40% increase in people seeking assistance with health care problems, a 21% increase in those seeking help to prevent evictions and a 6% increase in those seeking domestic violence help, said attorney-in-chief Steven Banks. The organization's civil division can help only one of every nine people who ask for assistance.

According to a Legal Services Corporation press release, the cuts amount to a 17% decrease from already meager 2011 funding. 

The impact of the proposed reduction at the mid-point of a fiscal year would be devastating to the 136 nonprofit legal aid programs across the nation that receive funding from LSC. The proposed cut could result in the layoffs of at least 300 legal aid staff attorneys who help victims of domestic violence, keep families in their homes by averting unlawful foreclosures and evictions, help veterans and the disabled obtain benefits, protect the elderly and others from consumer fraud, and provide other services in civil cases. Programs would be forced to turn away cases except for those involving immediate issues of safety and security, and many programs serving rural areas would be forced to close offices.

The Brennan Center for Justice crunched some staggering numbers on the effects of the economy on civil legal aid services demand and availability.  Arkansas, for example, was estimated to have 14,000 low income residents for each legal aid attorney at the time of the 2010 study.  2007 to 2008, Arizona saw more than half of existing legal aid orgs disappear.  And funding shortages in Massachusetts left an estimated 20,000 low-income residents without access to services.

The American Bar Association President called the cuts "shocking and unacceptable."

 

GOP Cuts Would Decimate Legal Aid for Low-Income Families

Not content with cutting funding for education, housing, and health-services aid for low-income families in their budget proposal, House Republicans have included a $75 million cut in legal services aid that for many low income and rural families facing foreclosure is a last line of defense.  And many of these legal aid programs are already hanging by a thread.  Via Law.com:

Law firms may be benefiting from the slow economic recovery, but legal aid groups face the most dire circumstances in decades. The problem is a perfect storm of IOLTA funding declines, cuts in state and local funding, uncertain federal support and a tight private fundraising environment. The situation is exacerbated by steep increases in demand for free legal services as millions of low-income Americans face long-term unemployment, foreclosure and other serious problems.

For example, the Legal Aid Society — which serves New York City and is the largest nonprofit legal aid provider in the country with an annual caseload of 300,000 — saw a 40% increase in people seeking assistance with health care problems, a 21% increase in those seeking help to prevent evictions and a 6% increase in those seeking domestic violence help, said attorney-in-chief Steven Banks. The organization's civil division can help only one of every nine people who ask for assistance.

According to a Legal Services Corporation press release, the cuts amount to a 17% decrease from already meager 2011 funding. 

The impact of the proposed reduction at the mid-point of a fiscal year would be devastating to the 136 nonprofit legal aid programs across the nation that receive funding from LSC. The proposed cut could result in the layoffs of at least 300 legal aid staff attorneys who help victims of domestic violence, keep families in their homes by averting unlawful foreclosures and evictions, help veterans and the disabled obtain benefits, protect the elderly and others from consumer fraud, and provide other services in civil cases. Programs would be forced to turn away cases except for those involving immediate issues of safety and security, and many programs serving rural areas would be forced to close offices.

The Brennan Center for Justice crunched some staggering numbers on the effects of the economy on civil legal aid services demand and availability.  Arkansas, for example, was estimated to have 14,000 low income residents for each legal aid attorney at the time of the 2010 study.  2007 to 2008, Arizona saw more than half of existing legal aid orgs disappear.  And funding shortages in Massachusetts left an estimated 20,000 low-income residents without access to services.

The American Bar Association President called the cuts "shocking and unacceptable."

 

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