Path to Austerity: The GOP Fantasy Budget

In the face of many storms we’ve weathered, a few aspects of the American experience have remained stalwart… death, taxes and Michelle Bachmann’s uncanny ability to be void of all logic and reason. These principles were sure, and come hell or high water, we could turn to them for stability.

But that third principle, though still very real, has got some new challengers in the “crazy town” department. Wisconsin Congressman and losing Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan unveiled the House GOP budget today. One read-through of this makes Michelle Bachmann’s ravings sound almost sensible.

We now finally have specifics on the US House plan for the federal budget. I of course am no budget analyst, so I highly recommend reading other opinions like Ezra Klein, Matthew Iglesias and Andrew Taylor for a thorough rundown. But here are the big points.

Some of the proposals we’ve come to expect from the GOP… promises to lower tax rates for everyone (though they’ve now relented to keep tax increases passed in January on the books) and of course the continued witch hunt to repeal Obamacare. But here is the real kicker… The GOP/Ryan budget assumes savings from Obamacare, while also assuming its repeal. That in itself doesn’t even make sense. How can you reap savings from a law that you don’t want to exist in the first place?

And then, as expected, there are massive cuts to social programs. The way much of this is achieved is by exchanging funding per constituent that states receive for block grants… a sum of money given to each state to spend the way they want to. That sum of money would decrease over time, and then pass on the responsibility for programs like Medicaid, SNAP and other vital services into state hands. That relieves federal responsibility by passing the taxing burdens onto the states.

Sounds great, only it will cause many already stressed state budgets to be pushed into crisis mode. As the state population increases and the block grant does not, people will continue to be denied these critical programs. All in the name of “fixing the deficit”. In a growing state like Texas, with a massive population of low-wage workers and uninsured, block grants are nothing short of creating a ticking time bomb. Nevermind that the policies President Obama has enacted are already bringing down the deficit as is, the GOP insist on robbing people that already have fewer options than everyone else. Under their plan, all of these cuts are made while increasing the giveaways to our nation’s wealthy.

And that’s why the GOP budget is a total fantasy. Let’s hope it stays that way too.

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