With a debt ceiling vote looming and much needed Republican votes at stake, House Speaker John Boehner announced an ambitious plan Tuesday, tasking House Budget Committee Chariman Paul Ryan with drafting a budget that balances by 2024.
To put into perspective just how difficult that would be, consider that Paul Ryan’s last budget did not balance until 2040. Even with his unpopular Medicare block grants and huge cuts to transportation, education, food stamps and other programs for the poor, Ryan’s budget would still take nearly three decades to balance, much less one decade.
But there’s one more factor making it even more difficult. According to Boehner, ”We are not going to raise taxes on the American people.”
As New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait put it, “Moving that timetable up by seventeen years changes the plausibility level from Level: Unicorn to Level: Unicorn Being Ridden By Santa Claus Who Has Lost 50 Pounds Through One Weird Trick.”
If a budget that took 27 years to balance itself made unpopular cuts, one can only imagine what type of cuts will be required to balance the budget almost three times as quickly, but perhaps Ryan is planning to drop the $265,000 tax cut for people earning more than $1 million from his new plan.
This new budget will inevitably have to make significantly deeper cuts beyond the $3.3 trillion Ryan’s 2012 budget took from low income programs like Medicaid, food stamps, Pell Grants, and job training.
If Paul Ryan’s last budget earned the “Fairy-Tale” label, this one likely qualifies as a combination of fantasy and a horror story for the poor.