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Romney/Ryan Budget’s for 1%, Not for All

Wisconsin AFL-CIO photo/flickr

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is long on rhetoric but short on details when quizzed about his economic policies. But the one concrete concept he embraces wholeheartedly is Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) House-passed budget for the 1% blueprint.There is an alternative to the Romney/Ryan/Republican budget for the 1% and that’s the “Budget for All” proposal drafted by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and The Century Foundation (TCF) have just released a detailed comparison of the two budgets. They compare the two plans on spurring recovery, improving health care costs and coverage, increasing economic opportunity and realistically funding spending priorities. The report finds that the “Budget for All” would increase employment by 2.1 million jobs in fiscal 2013 and 1.2 million in fiscal 2014 by financing $786 billion worth of investments and job creation measures. Those and other investments would be paid for by:

  • Gradually rolling back the Bush-era tax cuts;
  • Adding higher tax rates for millionaires and billionaires; and
  • Fairly taxing capital gains, all of which would push back against growing economic inequality.

In contrast, the Romney/Ryan/Republican budget includes trillions of dollars of additional unfinanced tax cuts targeted toward upper-income households. It would reduce employment by 1.3 million jobs in fiscal 2013 and 2.8 million in fiscal 2014.

The Ryan budget also would cut Medicaid and other health programs by $2.4 trillion over a decade, shifting costs to households while exacerbating overall expenditure. It would further cut education, workforce training, child nutrition programs, scientific research and the basic operations of government. Says co-author Rebecca Thiess, an EPI federal budget policy analyst:

The proposed austerity measures and draconian cuts within the Ryan budget would stall economic growth and ask the most from those least able to afford it. It stands in stark contrast with the vision presented in the “Budget for All,” one that is focused on lifting the middle class, protecting the social safety net and promoting economic growth and shared prosperity.

Click here for the full report—“The Ryan Budget Versus the Budget for All: Exacerbating Versus Alleviating Our Serious Economic Challenge.”

Below are the key differences between the Ryan budget and the “Budget for All” in a side-by-side comparison chart:

Ryan Budget Budget for All
Job creation and economic recovery:
By decreasing near-term aggregate demand, the Ryan budget would reduce employment by 1.3 million jobs in fiscal 2013 and 2.8 million in fiscal 2014. In contrast, by increasing near-term aggregate demand, the Budget for All would increase employment by 2.1 million jobs in fiscal 2013 and 1.2 million in fiscal 2014.
Discretionary spending priorities and public investments:
The Ryan budget would ramp up defense spending despite wars ending in Iraq and Afghanistan, while slashing nondefense discretionary spending. In contrast, the Budget for All recognizes the economic imperative for public investment and would take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the ending of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to reorient discretionary spending toward high-return investments.
Economic security and opportunity:
The Ryan budget would cut deeply into the social safety net and scale back tax credits for lower-income households, while calling for steep reductions in tax rates for upper-income households. In contrast, the Budget for All would protect the social safety net that has been vital to so many since the Great Recession began, while also targeting tax cuts toward low- and middle-income families.
Health care costs and coverage:
The provisions in the Ryan budget regarding health security ignore the reality that, in the absence of social insurance, market failures will keep the private sector from ever adequately covering large portions of the population. The Budget for All, conversely, recognizes the value of existing health security programs and also realizes that even more must be done to ensure health security for all Americans and to use government purchasing power to slow national health expenditure growth.
Tax policy:
The Ryan budget would maintain all of the Bush-era tax cuts and would even expand them for most households, while offering an implausibly large offsetting revenue gain from broadening the tax base (via eliminating unspecified tax expenditures). In contrast, the Budget for All honestly determines what is needed to fund its spending priorities and aims to finance these needs by raising revenue from those households that have the highest incomes and have captured most of the overall income gains generated in recent decades.
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