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“A Program Conservatives Should Love”: One That Even Paul Ryan Should Be Able To Embrace

We are at a point at which we will soon have vicious ideological debates over motherhood and apple pie.

Don’t laugh. If we can agree on anything across our philosophical divides, surely we can support efforts to promote voluntary service by our fellow citizens and to strengthen our nation’s extraordinary network of civic and religious charities.

This shared set of commitments led to one of the few bipartisan initiatives of President Obama’s time in office. On April 21, it will be five years since the president signed the Serve America Act, the final product of one of Congress’s most creative odd couples. Again and again, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts found ways to legislate together. The law aimed at authorizing 250,000 service slots by 2017 was the unlikely duo’s capstone project before Kennedy’s death.

At a very modest cost to government — those who serve essentially get living expenses and some scholarship assistance later — AmeriCorps gives mostly young Americans a chance to spend a year helping communities and those in need while nurturing thousands of organizations across the country. Senior Corps provides Americans 55 or older a chance to serve, too.

AmeriCorps sent out its first volunteers 20 years ago this fall. Since then, more than 800,000 Americans have participated in the program. By giving life to this great venture in generosity, our government did something that taxpayers, regardless of party, can be proud of.

One politician who speaks often about the importance of civil society groups is Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Ryan rightly talks about the “vast middle ground between government and the individual,” and of empowering “community organizations to improve people’s lives.”

Yet Ryan’s new budget comes out against apple pie. It zeroes out AmeriCorps. Poof. Gone.

Rather than denouncing Ryan for this, I urge him instead to take a second look on the basis of his own principles and realize the opportunity he has. The best move for someone who loves the activities of the nonprofits as much as Ryan says he does is to try to trump the president.

Obama’s budget proposes $1.05 billion, a slight increase that would allow AmeriCorps, including Senior Corps, to expand to more than 100,000 positions . It’s good that Obama and Senate Democrats have worked to keep the program funded in the face of House Republican resistance. But even the number Obama proposes amounts to slightly more than half of the 200,000 spots for 2014 that Hatch and Kennedy envisioned in their original bill.

It’s not as if young people don’t want to serve. AmeriCorps had 580,000 applications for 80,000 openings; Teach for America had 55,000 applications for 6,000 slots . Alan Khazei, co-chair of the Franklin Project at the Aspen Institute, which promotes national service, points to the 16 percent unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds. Service, he argues, is a gateway. It can lead to “employment opportunities and help young Americans develop important job skills for their future careers.”

If Ryan isn’t convinced yet, he should talk to Wendy Spencer, the chief executive of the Corporation for National and Community Service. He’d have a lot in common politically with Spencer, a Republican. She worked in the private sector, for a local Chamber of Commerce and a United Way, and held positions in former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s administration in Florida. She headed the state’s Commission on Volunteerism for the last three Republican governors.

Spencer has been inventive at a time of tough budgets. At the end of March, she announced a partnership with Citi Foundation and the Points of Light Institute involving $10 million in private financing to engage 25,000 low-income young Americans to lead volunteer service projects even as they get mentoring and training from Citi employees.

Encouraged by Obama, federal agencies are using AmeriCorps volunteers in new ways. The Federal Emergency Management Agency Corps, for example, can deploy 1,600 volunteers in disaster relief emergencies while the School Turnaround corps has used hundreds of volunteers in repairing troubled schools.

Spencer views the federal service programs as a “trifecta.” The organizations receiving AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members see their capacity enhanced as full-time volunteers leverage the work of thousands more. And, of course, the participants themselves benefit, as do the people they serve.

If you wish, Mr. Ryan, you can let the president get all the credit for saving this worthy endeavor and for fostering innovation. Or you can go him one better by expanding it. You could use AmeriCorps as a model for a practical, locally oriented, conservative approach to government. Because that’s exactly what it is.

 

By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 13, 2014

April 14, 2014 Posted by | AmeriCorps, Ryan Budget Plan, Serve America Act | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Giving Wall Street More Leeway”: How Paul Ryan’s Budget Paves The Way For Another Financial Crisis

Representative Paul Ryan released his budget blueprint this week, and fans of his work were no doubt pleased: it called for $5 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade, focused heavily on domestic, non-military spending. Safety net programs like Medicaid and food stamps would face savage cuts, and the Affordable Health Care Act would be repealed entirely. Meanwhile, both corporate and individual tax rates would be lowered.

It is easy to make the case that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer under Ryan’s so-called “Path to Prosperity” plan: one needs only to look at the literally trillions cut from Medicaid and food stamps while the rich pay much less in taxes.

But it’s important to refine that point and note that the financial sector in particular gets many special favors in the Ryan plan. After all, it is one of Ryan’s leading benefactors and he can even be spotted sipping $350 bottles of wine with industry leaders from time to time. And his budget is no doubt a path to prosperity for them.

Moreover, in three crucial ways Ryan’s budget not only gives Wall Street more leeway to act recklessly, but makes it more likely that average Americans face the consequences.

Cutting the Securities and Exchange Commission budget: Already, the head of the SEC is complaining that her agency’s budget is not nearly adequate to police the country’s massive financial sector. In a speech earlier this year at SEC headquarters, director Mary Jo White said, “our funding falls significantly short of the level we need to fulfill our mission to investors, companies and the markets.” The SEC has only 4,200 employees, but must regulate eighteen different stock exchanges and over 25,000 different market participants—and the agency’s responsibilities are growing thanks to new mandates from the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation.

Ryan has a much different take in his budget: he thinks the SEC is just too big. He doesn’t apply a dollar figure, but makes it clear the agency’s already meager budget should be substantially “streamlined.”

“In the run-up to the financial crisis and its aftermath, the SEC repeatedly failed to fulfill any part of its mission,” his blueprint notes, ticking off a familiar list of whiffs, from the unsound nature of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers to the Ponzi schemes run by Allen Stanford and Bernie Madoff.

So far, so good. But Ryan goes on: “These failures have taken place despite significant increases in funding at the SEC, which has seen its budget increase almost sixty-six percent since 2004.”

Apparently, the extra money was the problem. “This resolution questions the premise that more funding for the SEC means better, smarter regulation. Adding reams of regulations to the books and scores of regulators to the payrolls will not provide greater transparency, consumer protection and enforcement for increasingly complex markets. Instead, the SEC should streamline and make more efficient its operations and resources.”

In short: since the SEC failed to adequately police Wall Street at a time its budget was increasing, the magic solution would be to cut the agency’s budget, because ipso facto the agency’s performance would get better.

This line of thinking would not be unfamiliar to those who follow Ryan’s recommendations for federal anti-poverty programs, and it’s just as wrong here as it is there. As the agency’s director herself pointed out (on several different occasions), the SEC plainly needs more resources to conduct better regulation of a huge financial sector. Ryan provides no evidence, aside from that odd logical twist, that reducing the number of SEC staffers poring over filings from hedge funds would somehow increase oversight of those outfits.

Transferring the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau budget to Congress: Here Ryan resurrects a longstanding GOP proposal: that Congress, not the Federal Reserve, should fund the CFPB.

As it stands now, the bureau’s budget is essentially guaranteed. It can ask the Federal Reserve for funding up to a certain cap, and that request cannot be denied. The caps are fixed percentages of the Fed’s operating expenses. This guarantees autonomy from a Congress where many members (like, say, Ryan) are elected thanks to campaign contributions from the big financial institutions the CFPB polices.

Ryan claims to have a problem with this arrangement only because the Federal Reserve’s profits are supposed to be returned to the Treasury to reduce the deficit, but instead a portion of them are siphoned off to a new bureaucracy—one in which he suggests via scare quotes is ineffective. “Now, instead of directing these remittances to reduce the deficit, Dodd-Frank requires diverting a portion of them to pay for a new bureaucracy with the authority to write far-reaching rules on financial products and restrict credit to the very customers it seeks to ‘protect,’” says the blueprint.

CFPB funding would thus be transferred to Congress under the Ryan plan, and subject to annual appropriations. He doesn’t say what Congress should do with that budget once its under legislators control, but one needs only to look to his SEC budget proposals to get a sense of what would likely happen.

Ensuring Taxpayer Bailouts of Big Banks: This is another up-is-down situation where a lot of unpacking of Ryan’s language is needed. His budget says:

Although the proponents of Dodd-Frank went to great lengths to denounce bailouts, this law only sustains them. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation now has the authority to access taxpayer dollars in order to bail out the creditors of large, ‘‘systemically significant’’ financial institutions. This resolution calls for ending this regime, now enshrined into law, which paves the way for future bailouts. House Republicans put forth an enhanced bankruptcy alternative that—instead of rewarding corporate failure with taxpayer dollars—would place the responsibility for large, failing firms in the hands of the shareholders who own them, the managers who run them, and the creditors who finance them.

Sounds good! But that would actually accomplish the exact opposite.

Indeed, Dodd-Frank gave the FDIC the power to wind down too-big-to-fail banks, which is called “resolution authority.” In a crisis, if a failing bank is deemed too big for traditional bankruptcy, a panel of bankruptcy judges can place it in receivership under the FDIC. That FDIC in turn then makes a plan for winding down the institution safely—something Barney Frank called a “death panel” for big banks.

Crucially, under this structure, taxpayers can’t end up paying for this wind down—Dodd-Frank explicitly forbids it. Any taxpayer money used upfront to ease the firm into bankruptcy would be recouped by a structured sale of the bank’s assets. (Note that Ryan sneakily says the FDIC has the authority to “access taxpayer dollars,” eliding the fact that in the end it has to pay them back.)

Ryan’s alternative is to end FDIC’s resolution authority and simply “place the responsibility for large, failing firms in the hands of the shareholders who own them, the managers who run them, and the creditors who finance them.”

That’s akin to just saying “it will all work out.” It is unlikely in the extreme that the shareholders and managers can somehow bail out a failing big bank, especially in a crisis. Inevitably, Congress and thus taxpayers would have to step in, without any of the established authority like asset sales that the FDIC now possesses.

Ryan’s plan would lead to more taxpayer bailouts of failing big banks—and by stripping down the budgets of the agencies meant to oversee those institutions, make failure more likely in the first place. But in the meantime, his friends on Wall Street could enjoy less regulation, less oversight, and more comfort that taxpayers will someday come to the rescue.

 

By: George Zornick, The Nation, April 2, 2014

April 5, 2014 Posted by | Paul Ryan, Ryan Budget Plan | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Wishy-Washy Wonk”: Paul Ryan, Still A Total Jerk

Remind me not to get in a foxhole with Paul Ryan. At the first sign of trouble, he’ll pack up his gunny sack and head for base camp, running into the latrine to hide.

Or so I conclude from the budget he released this week. Remember how last year Ryan was reinventing himself as the true friend of “the poors,” as we ironically say in liberal blogland? Aside from being stunned that all those skewed polls turned out to be exactly on the money and he and Mitt Romney lost, he was also, we were told, chagrined and maddened that he came away from the 2012 campaign with a reputation as a pitiless Randian with a hole where his heart used to be.

So he set out last year to prove us all wrong. He hired a disaffected ex-Democratic wonk as his top social-policy guy. He was getting the great press you’d expect out of Politico, which loves Republicans Who Confound Liberals (“The new Paul Ryan,” last December 10; “Is Paul Ryan the GOP’s Next Jack Kemp?”, December 12; someone was asleep at the wheel on December 11 I guess). America would soon see the revealed truth: Government keeps poor people poor, bleeds them of the pluck and spunk needed to liberate oneself from the dependent-American community. St. Paul would save them.

Then came the CPAC conference a month ago, and he tells one little story, about the kid who didn’t want a free lunch, just a normal brown bag like the other kids, and he gets it wrong, and the real and true version of the story doesn’t remotely prove the point he wants it to prove in his retelling, and he gets hammered over it for days, and boom, he throws in the poverty towel. To blazes with those poors. Kicking them was pretty fun after all.

I jest, of course, with my chronology. But the budget he put out this week is nothing to laugh at. Or maybe on reflection it is something to laugh at. Why in the world does it exist, and what good do he and his fellow House Republicans think it’s going to do them?

In case you haven’t heard the basic skinny, it’s a budget that’s very pre-new Paul Ryan, characterized by the two features that have chiefly characterized all Ryan budgets: meanness and dishonesty. Meanness starts with the $5.1 trillion in cuts to domestic discretionary spending programs over 10 years, with steep cuts to Medicaid and food stamps, and—

No, wait. Let’s stop here and mull this food stamp cut. As you probably know, in last year’s farm bill negotiations, House Republicans proposed a $40 billion cut to food stamps. By the time the House and Senate agreed to a farm bill last month, that was whittled down to $8.7 billion over 10 years. That’s a small cut in percentage terms (about 1 percent). But even it takes $90 a month away from 850,000 poor families. Ryan’s proposed food stamps cut? $125 billion. More than 14 times the size of the already controversial current cut. As St. Paul sayeth, we rejoice in our sufferings.

Beyond that it’s the usual Dickensian gruel. Federal programs block-granted, which always means far less money and almost always means that governors can spend the money on some more rewarding and more agreeably ZIP-coded constituency if they want to. Huge education cuts. Big cuts to Pell Grants. Oh, and here’s a nice touch—college students would start being charged interest on their loans while still in college, so that now, on top of everything else, the Republican Party is getting into the usury business.

Now don’t think I’ve forgotten the dishonesty part. Obamacare, as you might recall from the aforementioned campaign, cuts $716 billion in payments to hospitals and such. You remember—Romney and Ryan pounded on Obama about that $716 billion. You’re killing the oldsters, and so on.

Well, Ryan’s budget would repeal Obamacare. And yet, it pockets that same roughly $700 billion in Medicare cuts as savings, and, as Sahil Kapur noted for TPM, it “uses the savings to meet its fiscal targets.” How dandy is that? Hate Obamacare hate Obamacare hate Obamacare hate Obamacare…Oh, but I’ll pocket that $700 billion, Barack, thanks, great idea!

I haven’t even mentioned the plan’s biggest political weakness, which is Ryan’s return, yes, to Medicare, to quasi-privatizing it for people under 55. Democrats, until this week wholly on the defensive, have now been handed a huge sledgehammer. The 7.1 million Obamacare enrollees takes the heat off health care for the time being and allows for a topic change. And so here comes Ryan, the very day after Obamacare enrollment closed, offering that topic.

Why? Why is he re-introducing the idea of tampering with Medicare in an election year? In fact, why even release a document such as this? And why, having released it, force all your members to vote on it within the next week or so, which Ryan and Eric Cantor vow will happen? As Greg Sargent pointed out Wednesday, eight House Republicans in six different states are going to have to vote for this Medicare- and Medicaid-killing budget (old people understand that “Medicaid” means “nursing home care”).

And, depending on how you rate these things, there are around 25 House Republicans who could conceivably lose to Democrats this November. Why force them to vote for this? Or maybe if you’re John Boehner you don’t force them to. You let them vote no. But then you lose! Then what a laughing stock you are! But you’ll probably get 218 votes one way or another. So fine—you’ve forced some people in vulnerable positions to vote aye, but hey, you’ve won the vote. Then what? Then nothing. Harry Reid’s Senate will not even take it up. So it’s all symbolism.

And this is the symbol the GOP wants to present? The party that destroys federal education programs, Medicaid, food stamps, and (in the future) Medicare? I suppose they think it’ll rev up their base. Will it really? This is the fifth Ryan budget by my count. They’ve all said in essence the same thing, and they’ve all gone the same place: nowhere.

I’d like to know, sort of, what’s actually in Paul Ryan’s head and heart. But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. What matters with him, as with any politician, is what he puts on paper. And here we have it. If this is trying to help the poor, then what Putin is doing in Russia is pro-gay. At least we won’t have to read any more “Paul Ryan loves poor people” stories. So long, St. Paul.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, April 3, 2014

April 4, 2014 Posted by | Paul Ryan, Ryan Budget Plan | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Laying It All Out On Medicare”: No Mistaking Paul Ryan’s Policy

The release of a new Paul Ryan budget plan is always the occasion for a lot of ridicule from liberals, for a whole bunch of reasons, and this year’s will be no different. Ryan’s budgets always manage to combine a remarkable cruelty toward poor people with a sunny optimism that draconian cuts to social services will result in a veritable explosion of economic growth, allowing us to balance the budget without taking anything away from the truly important priorities (like military spending) or, heaven forbid, forcing wealthy people to pay more in taxes.

I’m sure there are other people preparing detailed critiques of the Ryan budget, but I want to focus on one thing this brings up: the question of how we talk about Medicare. As he has before in his budgets, Ryan proposes to repeal the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, like subsidies for middle-class people to buy insurance and the expansion of Medicaid, but he’d keep the tax increases and Medicare cuts that the bill included in order to pay for it all, which helps him achieve his “balanced” budget.

Yes, it’s true that when Ryan was running for vice president, he joined Mitt Romney in condemning those very Medicare savings. But nobody really believed he was doing anything at the time but being a team player. So we can give him credit for taking at least a step toward putting his money where his mouth is on Medicare. Sure, it may be couched in some misleading words (the document refers to “strengthening Medicare” no fewer than ten times), but there’s no mistaking the policy.

Because the rest of his party is, to put it kindly, of two minds when it comes to the program. On one hand, they will tell you, Medicare is unsustainable, a ravenous beast that will devour the entire nation’s financial well-being if we don’t find a way to suppress its appetite. In Washington-speak, this is translated as “doing something about entitlements.” We have to Do Something About Entitlements! If you don’t want to Do Something About Entitlements, you’re just not serious about our nation’s fiscal challenges.

On the other hand, Republicans believe that Medicare is utterly sacrosanct, a jewel whose every facet is so perfect that even the most modest attempt to curtail its costs should be met with howls of anguish and outrage. Or at least that’s what they believe at election time, when they’ll air one ad after another condemning Democrats for cutting the Medicare seniors so desperately need. Democrats all over the country have been subjected to ads saying, “Congressman Fnurbler voted to cut $716 billion from Medicare!” over a picture of an elderly couple sitting at the kitchen table, looking over their bills with an engulfing despair, then meeting each other’s eyes in a tragic look that says, “Thanks to Congressman Fnurbler, all is lost. If only we had been able to pay our gas bill so we could stick our heads in the oven and end it all right now.”

Republicans are so deeply opposed to the idea of cutting Medicare that they can’t even stomach anyone trying to see if Medicare is spending its money wisely. Mention the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a component of the ACA that was designed to restrain Medicare costs if they rose too fast, and steam will come out of their ears. (The IPAB would make recommendations to Congress on ways to save money, and Congress would have to act on them. But since Medicare spending has slowed dramatically in the last couple of years, the requirement has yet to kick in, and President Obama hasn’t bothered to appoint anyone to what is still a theoretical board.) They waged a virtual war on comparative effectiveness research, effectively saying that it was dangerous to even ask which competing treatments work well and which don’t.

In other words, most Republicans believe we must, must, must reduce the cost of Medicare—excuse me, Do Something About Entitlements—but are adamantly opposed to every step that has been taken to reduce the cost of Medicare. I’m sure that lots of them are sympathetic to Ryan’s vision, which is to essentially turn the program into a voucher system, in which the government helps you buy private insurance, and over time costs magically go down (and if you’re thinking that sounds a lot like what people are getting on the Obamacare exchanges, any Republican will tell you that it’s totally different because freedom).

So let’s give Paul Ryan some credit. Sure, his numbers might not add up. But when he puts out a budget, there’s no mystery about where he’s coming from and what he wants to do.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, April 1, 2014

April 2, 2014 Posted by | Medicare, Ryan Budget Plan | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Common Ground Is Not Always Common”: Beware Of Paul Ryan’s Lose-A-Battle, Win-A-War Strategy

The conventional wisdom is that the Republicans got nothing—except some historic disapproval numbers and a lot of internal backbiting—from the whole shutdown showdown.

But there are different Republicans, with different intentions, and not all of them were frowning as the week of their party’s public shame came to a conclusion.

It is certainly true that Texas Senator Ted Cruz has become a political punch line—the Canadian-born Republican whom Democrats would most like to see the Grand Old Party nominate for president. House Speaker John Boehner’s name is likely to enter the lexicon as an antonym for “leadership.” Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell is going to be spending an inordinate amount of time discussing the term “Kentucky kickback.” And it may even be dawning on the Tea Partisans that the whole “defund Obamacare” gambit was a charade.

The real point of the exercise in chaos that the country was just dragged through was the chaos itself.

And the beneficiary of it all is the Republican who has suddenly stepped back into the limelight after laying low through most of the shutdown: House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin.

Fully aware that the American people have no taste for a “grand bargain” that might see the implementation of at least some of his Ayn Rand–inspired “survival-of-the-fittest” proposals for means-testing earned-benefit programs, for taking the first steps toward privatization of Social Security, for turning Medicare and Medicaid into voucher programs, Ryan has for years been looking for an opening that makes his proposals seem “necessary.”

The 2012 election, when he was his party’s “big ideas” guy, and its nominee for vice president, confirmed that there was no electoral route to advance his agenda. Americans rejected Ryan, overwhelmingly. He could not even carry his home state for the Romney-Ryan ticket, which was defeated by a 5 million popular-vote margin and a 332-206 Electoral College blowout. Ryan knew that it would take more to get his opening. And the crisis of the past several weeks in Washington provided it.

Some analysts were surprised when Ryan voted against the deal to temporarily end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. They shouldn’t have been. While it’s true that Ryan—an enthusiastic backer of the 2008 bank bailout—is a reliable vote for the agenda of the Wall Street speculators who fund his campaigns, he wasn’t going against his political patrons when he joined 143 other House Republicans in voting “no.” Rather, the Budget Committee chairman—who just reported raising more than $1 million in fresh campaign funds in the third quarter of 2013—was voting to strengthen his own hand as he steps into the ring for the next stage of an inside-the-Beltway fight that is far from finished.

The deal that ended the shutdown set up a high-stakes conference committee on budget issues. If there is to be a “grand bargain,” this is where it will be generated. And Ryan—the most prominent of the fourteen Democrats, fourteen Republicans and two independents on the committee—is in the thick of it.

The Budget Committee chairman says it would be “premature to get into exactly how we’re going to” sort out budget issues.

But no one should have any doubts about the hard bargain he will drive for. In the midst of the shutdown, Ryan jumped the gun by penning a Wall Street Journal op-ed that proposed: “Reforms to entitlement programs and the tax code…”

“Here are just a few ideas to get the conversation started,” Ryan wrote. “We could ask the better off to pay higher premiums for Medicare. We could reform Medigap plans to encourage efficiency and cut costs. And we could ask federal employees to contribute more to their own retirement.”

Translation: Get ready for the radical reshaping of Medicare so that it is no longer a universal program. Make way for more price-gouging by the private companies that sell supplemental insurance. Launch a new assault on public employees who have already been hit with wage freezes and furloughs.

And Ryan will not stop there.

He never does.

That’s why the Democrats on the conference committee—led by Senate Budget Committee chairman Patty Murray, D-Washington—must be exceptionally wary.

“Chairman Ryan knows I’m not going to vote for his budget, and I know he’s not going to vote for mine,” says Murray. “We’re going to find the common ground between our two budgets that we both can vote on and that’s our goal.”

The thing to remember that Ryan is working to get cuts to earned-benefit programs onto that common ground.

Ryan cast his “no” vote on the deal that set up the conference committee in order to begin organizing his troops for a fight that will set up the next shutdown and debt-ceiling struggles. The committee has a deadline of December 13. That makes its report—or the lack of one—the first deadline on a schedule that proceeds toward new continuing resolution and debt-ceiling votes in January and February. That creates tremendous pressure for a deal, and Ryan’s at the ready.

That answer to his supplications must be a firm “No.”

That’s what Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, is proposing. Sanders, one of a member of the conference committee says: “it is imperative that this new budget helps us create the millions of jobs we desperately need and does not balance the budget on the backs of working people, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor…”

Sanders’ office notes: “The Senate budget protects Medicare while the House version would end Medicare as we know it by providing coupons for private health insurance. Unlike the House budget, the Senate resolution does not repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would prevent more than 20 million Americans from getting health insurance. The House version would eliminate grants for up to 1 million college students while the Senate plan protects Pell grants. The House version would kick up to 24 million Americans off of Medicaid while the Senate budget would protect their benefits. The Senate budget calls for new revenue while the House version would provide trillions of dollars in tax breaks mainly for the wealthiest Americans and profitable corporations offset by increased taxes on the middle class.”

Ryan would be more than happy to settle for a “common ground” agreement that opens the way for a little bit of privatization, a little bit of movement toward vouchers, a little bit of means testing, a little bit of an increase in the retirement age. But if he gets that, the big “blink” that everyone was talking about during the shutdown fight will have happened.

If that is where this thing ends, it might not be the Democrats who get the last laugh.

It might yet be a Republican named Paul Ryan.

 

By: John Nichols, The Nation, October 18, 2013

October 21, 2013 Posted by | Paul Ryan, Ryan Budget Plan | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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