The most important thing Joe Biden can do tonight is describe the Ryan Budget in the clearest terms possible.The essence of the Romney/Ryan campaign is to hide the ball. The task is to make concrete the scope and the impact of the cuts Ryan calls for. The template was laid down too long ago by a certain Barack Obama:
Instead of moderating their views even slightly, the Republicans running Congress right now have doubled down and proposed a budget so far to the right it makes the Contract with America look like the New Deal. In fact, that renowned liberal, Newt Gingrich, first called the original version of the budget “radical” and said it would contribute to right wing social engineering. This is coming from Newt Gingrich. And yet this isn’t a budget supported by some small group in the Republican Party. This is now the party’s governing platform.That was back in April. Ryan will say, playing one side of a necessary two-step, that his budget is not Romney's. The chief difference, though, is that Romney's deficit reduction plans are even vaguer than Ryan's, which simply mandates cuts across broad categories of spending without specifying how those cuts will be distributed across actual programs. Obama turned the attack on Romney back in June, in a speech on economics:
This is what they’re running on.
One of my potential opponents, Governor Romney, has said that he hoped a similar version of this plan from last year would be introduced as a bill on day one of his presidency. He said that he’s very supportive of this new budget. And he even called it “marvelous,” which is a word you don’t often hear when it comes to describing a budget. It’s a word you don’t often hear generally.
So, here’s -- here’s what this marvelous budget does. Back in the summer, I came to an agreement with the Republicans in Congress to cut roughly $1 trillion in annual spending. Some of these cuts were about getting rid of waste, others were about programs that we support but just can’t afford given our deficits and our debt. And part of the agreement was a guarantee of another trillion in savings for a total of about $2 trillion in deficit reduction.
This new House Republican budget, however, breaks our bipartisan agreement and proposes massive new cuts in annual domestic spending. Exactly the area where we’ve already cut the most. And I want to actually go through what it would mean for our country if these cuts were to be spread out evenly. So bear with me. I want to go through this because I don’t think people fully appreciate the nature of this budget.
The year after next, nearly 10 million college students would see their financial aid cut by an average of more than $1,000 each. There would be 1,600 fewer medical grants. Research grants for things likes Alzheimer’s and cancer and AIDS. There would be 4,000 fewer scientific research grants, eliminating support for 48,000 researchers, students and teachers.
Investments in clean energy technology that are helping us reduce our dependence on foreign oil would be cut by nearly a fifth. If this budget becomes law, and the cuts were applied evenly starting in 2014, over 200,000 children would lose their chance to get an early education in the Head Start program. Two million mothers and young children would be cut from a program that gives them access to healthy food.
There would be 4,500 fewer federal grants at the Department of Justice and the FBI to combat violent crime, financial crime and help secure our borders. Hundreds of national parks would be forced to close for part or all of the year. We wouldn’t have the capacity to enforce the laws that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, or the food that we eat.
Cuts to the FAA would likely result in more flight cancellations, delays and the complete elimination of air traffic control services in parts of the country. Over time, our weather forecasts would become less accurate because we wouldn’t be able to afford to launch new satellites and that means governors and mayors would have to wait longer to order evacuations in the event of a hurricane.
That’s just a partial sampling of the consequences of this budget. Now, you can anticipate, Republicans may say, well, we’ll avoid some of these cuts since they don’t specify exactly the cuts that they would make. But they can only avoid some of these cuts if they cut even deeper in other areas.
This is math. If they want to make smaller cuts to medical research, that means they’ve got to cut even deeper in funding for things like teaching and law enforcement. The converse is true as well. If they want to protect early childhood education, it will mean further reducing things like financial aid for young people trying to afford college. Perhaps they will never tell us where the knife will fall, but you can be sure that with cuts this deep, there is no secret plan or formula that will be able to protect the investments we need to help our economy grow.
This is not conjecture. I am not exaggerating. These are facts. And these are just the cuts that would happen the year after next. If this budget became law by the middle of the century, funding for the kinds of things I just mentioned would have to be cut by about 95 percent. Let me repeat that. Those categories I just mentioned, we would have to cut by 95 percent. As a practical matter, the federal budget would basically amount to whatever’s left of entitlements, defense spending and interest on the national debt, period.
Now, Governor Romney and his allies in Congress believe deeply in the theory we tried during the last decade, the theory that the best way to grow the economy is from the top down.
So they maintain that if we eliminate most regulations, we cut taxes by trillions of dollars, if we strip down government to national security and few other basic functions, then the power of businesses to create jobs and prosperity will be unleashed and that will automatically benefit us all.
That’s what they believe. This -- this is their economic plan. It has been placed before Congress. Governor Romney has given speeches about it, and it’s on his website.
So if they win the election their agenda will be simple and straightforward; they have spelled it out. They promise to roll back regulations on banks and polluters, on insurance companies and oil companies. They’ll roll back regulations designed to protect consumers and workers.
They promise to not only keep all of the Bush tax cuts in place, but add another $5 trillion in tax cuts on top of that.
Now, an independent study said that about 70 percent of this new $5 trillion tax cut would go to folks making over $200,000 a year. And folks making over a million dollars a year would get an average tax cut of about 25 percent.
Now, this is not my opinion. This is not political spin. This is precisely what they have proposed.
Now, your next question may be: How do you spend $5 trillion on a tax cut and still bring down the deficit?
Well, they tell us they’ll start by cutting nearly a trillion dollars from the part of our budget that includes everything from education and job training, to medical research and clean energy.The choice is stark. The trick is to make it real.
Now, I -- I want to be very fair here. I want to be clear.
They haven’t specified exactly where the knife would fall, but here’s some of what would happen if that cut that they proposed was spread evenly across the budget.
10 million college students would lose an average of a thousand dollars each on financial aid. 200,000 children would lose the chance to get an early education in the Head Start program. There would be 1,600 fewer medical research grants for things like Alzheimer’s and cancer and AIDS; 4,000 fewer scientific research grants, eliminating support for 48,000 researchers, students and teachers.
Now, again, they have not specified which of these cuts they choose from, but if they want to make smaller cuts to areas like science or medical research, then they’d have to cut things like financial aid or education even further.
But either way, the cuts to this part of the budget would be deeper than anything we’ve ever seen in modern times.
Not only does their plan eliminate health insurance for 33 million Americans by repealing the Affordable Care Act, according to the independent Kaiser Family Foundation, it would also take away coverage from another 19 million Americans who rely on Medicaid, including millions of nursing home patients and families who have children with autism and other disabilities.
And they propose turning Medicare into a voucher program, which will shift more costs to seniors and eventually end the program as we know it.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Even if you make all the cuts that they’ve proposed, the math still doesn’t allow you to pay for a new $5 trillion tax cut and bring down the deficit at the same time.
So Mr. Romney and his allies have told us we can get the rest of the way there by reforming the tax code and taking away certain tax breaks and deductions that, again, they haven’t specified. They haven’t named them, but they said we can do it.
But here’s the problem: The only tax breaks and deductions that get you anywhere close to $5 trillion are those that help middle-class families afford health care and college and retirement and homeownership.
Without those tax benefits, tens of millions of middle-class families will end up paying higher taxes. Many of you would end up paying higher taxes to pay for this other tax cut.
And keep in mind that all of this is just to pay for their new $5 trillion tax cut. If you want to close the deficit left by the Bush tax cuts, we’d have to make deeper cuts or raise middle-class taxes even more.
Update: LOLGOP points out to me that the "Why Obama Now?" video also makes the contrast concrete (in a historical register). Here it is:
Update 2: Jonathan Cohn details exactly what Ryan and Romney would do to Medicaid and whom it would affect - drilling in particular into one innocuous-sounding R/R talking point that Obama left unchallenged in the Oct. 3 debate:
Romney has said that, under his plan, the federal government would limit its federal Medicaid contribution to inflation plus one percentage point. That may sound like a reasonable rate, until you remember that health care costs almost always rise faster than regular prices, that the population is growing, and that the population is getting older as it gets bigger. Factor that in, as budget analysts do, and it works out to a cut of $800 billion over ten years, relative to what Medicaid would have cost otherwise. Or, to put it another way, Medicaid spending in 2022 would be about one-third less than it would have been without the block grant. And that figure probably understates the impact. Among other things, Romney has also committed himself to an overall cap on federal spending that would, almost certainly, require steeper cuts.Related:
"In Mitt Romney's America" - Scare us, Obama
Obama contrasts two economic visions