Thursday, April 07, 2011

Au Contraire, Mr. Ryan: You Can't End the Deficit Unless You Tax the Super Rich

I am grateful to National Catholic Reporter columnist Joe Feuerherd for his blog posting yesterday saying that the conservative blueprint for eliminating the federal deficit unveiled by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) "lacks seriousness," especially in comparison to the real budget balancing and actual budget surplus achieved by the Democratic Congress and the Clinton administration in the post-Reagan 1980s and 90s.

Feuerherd ticks off several reasons why Ryan's plan won't accomplish what it claims:

"Repeal of last year's health care reform simply not going to happen." Maybe. But the chances that Republicans will succeed in rendering it unfunded seem pretty high.

Seniors and the AARP will not buy Ryan's proposal, a reiteration of the one he and Alice Rivlin submitted to the bipartisan deficit commission, to change the single-payer Medicare system--"socialism that America's seniors have learned to love"--into a voucher system to help them buy private health insurance. I think Feuerherd is right about this.

Governors "already facing the most daunting budget challenges since the Great Depression, will fight the plan to convert Medicaid to a block grant." Unfortunately, several Republican governors were already cheering for block grants, even though their states would be getting less money than they do under the current matching-funds approach. What they want is relief from having to provide state funds as a condition of receiving the federal match.

But what I am especially grateful for is that Feuerherd pointed his readers to an excellent April 4 posting by Robert Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, who again supports what I have argued repeatedly here:

"The only way America can reduce the long-​term budget deficit, maintain vital services, protect Social Security and Medicare, invest more in education and infrastructure, and not raise taxes on the working middle class is by raising taxes on the super rich."

Reich lays out in painstaking, unassailable detail all the ugly reasons why this is the case. Those who are not super rich cannot afford more taxes. But those who are super rich have managed to pay higher taxes in the past and still remained ultra wealthy. It is a time for a country that desperately needs their financial support to stop coddling them and block their relentless drive to impoverish the rest of us.

The question is whether serious people, including President Obama, will pay attention--or whether they will continue to cringe in fear before the tea bagger know-nothings who dominate what currently passes for political dialog.

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