Before getting into what I like, really like, like a lot, about the Romney/Ryan budget, there is a lot about the Romney/Ryan budget I don't like. I mean the real budget, the one with details.
I'm not talking about the cloudy, might-mean-anything group of generalities that Mitt Romney calls a budget. Okay, okay, I am talking about it. But only to dispose of it before talking about what I don't like about the real Romney/Ryan budget before getting into what I like, really like, like a lot.
Governor Romney has promised more than the generous tax cuts to the extremely wealthy that President Bush was able to get through Congress and that President Obama has not yet gotten rescinded.
Governor Romney wants to slash further, much further, the share of the tax burden that the fabulously wealthy now carry. He promises that this additional tax break for the wealthy will not increase the deficit. The magic works because he will close enough tax loopholes to make up the loss.
The Tax Policy Center, led by a top economic advisor to President George W. Bush, Donald Marron, performed as favorable an analysis of those broad promises as mathematics allowed. They started at the top and attacked the loopholes that affect the Thurston Howells of the world. Hey, I know Thurston was a fictional character, but you get my drift. We have all heard of the tax breaks that let CEOs write off private jets disguised as corporate necessities, the junkets, the Cayman Island accounts, the clauses and subparagraphs that helped make Bain the great and powerful megalithic Bain.
They took those into account first. Then they worked their way down, extracting as much as they could from the rich and pwerful figures behind every curtain, then to the next lower level to the more general deductions, then the next rung. They couldn't keep up with the generous bonus package in tax breaks that Mr. Romney has in mind for those living in the rarefied income heights with which Mitt is familiar. To make it all balance out, they finally had to work in a hefty increase in taxes to ordinary everyday workers to help support the wealthy.
The Romney campaign reacted furiously to the news. Mitt Romney himself laughed it off. The reason "scoring" specific figures can't work, he explained, is that he has not provided enough details. It will be up to Congress to work out the math.
Now, what could possibly go wrong with that?
Fortunately, we do get some details from the budget Republicans have passed in Congress. It's the budget Mr. Romney has enthused about, praised, and endorsed as heading in the right direction. Although he has left some sub-paragraph clauses in his effusiveness, it is his Vice presidential candidate, Mr. Ryan, who authored the Republican plan that would land on the desk of the future President Romney.
That's the Romney/Ryan budget I don't much care for. It moves massive amounts from the poor and the middle class toward the wealthy.
The Romney/Ryan budget, the one with details provided by Mr. Ryan, the one that Congress has passed once, would slash benefits to military veterans, including medical treatment for combat veterans. The Romney/Ryan budget would transition Social security to a privatized system, similar to the scheme that has gotten workers in Argentina into so much financial deprivation. In fact, conservatives have been open about using Argentina as their model. Medicare would be shifted over time until it is based completely on vouchers. The elderly would be encouraged to shop around for treatment that vouchers might cover.
But there is one part of the Romney/Ryan plan, the plan passed by the House, the plan authored by the prospective Vice President, the budget Mr. Romney praises so highly. The plan would cut a lot of the overhead of Medicare. That would be completely separate from the shift to vouchers. It would happen right away. This would happen in three ways:
Corporate medical care providers would be told they can profit only to a defined limit. They will no longer be able to charge without limit.
Insurance Companies will be told they have to plow more than 80% of what they are paid into actual medical payments to those they cover. If there is money left over, they have to refund it to employers or individuals.
- The expensive Advantage program, the failed privatization experiment that was supposed to be an alternative to mainstream Medicare, would be limited in what can be charged and more actual care would be mandated.
Those steps, if they could be isolated, should be specific items Democrats and Republicans unite around. As you might expect, the bad news is partisanship seems to infiltrate wherever you look.
The good news is those steps were taken before Representative Ryan proposed them. They were passed by the Democratic House before Republicans took over in 2010. They were passed by the Democratic Senate. They were signed into law by President Obama.
After that, those steps were proposed by Representative Ryan.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Prebus was on television this past weekend.
He praised Mitt Romney's choice for Vice President. He said the choice showed "leadership and courage." Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, appearing with him, supported that view. As Prebus nodded in agreement, Governor Walker highlighted the work the Romney/Ryan team had done on Medicare: "The bigger truth is in the end, it's going to be governor and then President Romney's plan that will ultimately prevail."
Reince Prebus described the specific provisions that Paul Ryan had proposed, the provisions that Governor Walker had praised, the provisions that President Obama had signed into law before Representative Ryan proposed them.
"If any person in this entire debate has blood on their hands in regards to Medicare, it's Barack Obama," he said. He added a moment later, "This president stole -- he didn't cut Medicare -- he stole $700 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare."
Hear that, Mr. Romney? Hear that, Mr. Ryan?
The chairman of the Republican National Committee doesn't seem to like your proposals.
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