Paul Ryan unveiled the details of his new 2013 budget Tuesday morning in a press conference that felt like a trip back in time. Although Ryan did not don the same tie he wore in both 2011 and 2012 for his budget presentations, he revealed a nearly identical plan, proving that he learned no lessons in the last year.
The former vice-presidential candidate said his plan would balance the budget by 2023 and bring $4.6 trillion in savings over the next ten years.
Ryan touted his "responsible, balanced budget" Tuesday, but the balance is nowhere to be seen, with no new revenues and cuts to programs that benefit the poor.
Ryan's plan would reduce the top corporate tax rate and the top individual tax rate to 25%. It would also repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was designed to make sure wealthy Americans with many deductions pay at least a minimum amount in taxes. With the AMT repealed, Americans with interest deductions from second mortgages, capital gains, high state and local taxes, and incentive stock options, will likely see their taxes go down.
The neediest Americans would feel the brunt of the savings reductions side of the equation. Ryan's plan would turn both Medicaid and SNAP (better known as Food Stamps) into block grant programs, which allow states to use the federal money with no strings attached. One analysis of Ryan's previous budget proposal estimated that between 14 and 27 million people would lose their Medicaid coverage under such a proposal.
The budget also cuts the Pell grant program, which helps millions of lower-income students pay for college.
Ryan's wildly unpopular plan to "voucherize" Medicare has returned as well, although Ryan continues to argue that it's not a voucher. Anyone under the age of 54 would be forced to choose between traditional Medicare and the "premium support system," which would offer vouchers to buy private health insurance, once they reach retirement age.
As for the sequester budget cuts, which are already impacting many everyday Americans and leading to furloughs for tens of thousands of government employees, Ryan's new budget embraces them, except for the military. His plan in fact increases defense spending, raising it to $6 trillion over the next decade, essentially saving the Defense Department from budget cuts.
The Ryan budget also restores funding for veterans affairs that the sequester destroyed, but other government spending sees no such reprieve.
And perhaps the biggest detachment from reality: The plan assumes Obamacare will be fully repealed. Despite dozens of failed attempts, Ryan claims the GOP will not give up on repealing Obamacare. Ryan insists that repeal will be possible "When Americans see exactly what this law entails," arguing it will change public sentiment.
All told, the plan reduces government spending by $4.6 trillion dollars over the next decade. Ryan brags that his budget balances in that time, but in order to accomplish that goal it relies heavily on the president's tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans and the savings from Obamacare that Ryan and his Republican colleagues claim to hate.
The plan doesn't address Social Security, instead requiring that the president and Congress submit plans in fiscal year 2014 for how they would deal with the program's "eventual insolvency."
The White House criticized the plan for using bad math that "just doesn't add up."
"Deficit reduction that asks nothing from the wealthiest Americans has serious consequences for the middle class. By choosing to give the wealthiest Americans a new tax cut, this budget as written will either fail to achieve any meaningful deficit reduction, raise taxes on middle class families by more than $2,000—or both," the White House said in a statement. "We've tried this top-down approach before. The President still believes it is the wrong course for America."
The president also calls for a more balanced approach that includes revenues, while remaining optimistic that a compromise can be reached.
"While the President disagrees with the House Republican approach, we all agree we need to leave a better future for our children. The President will continue to work with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to grow the economy and cut the deficit in a balanced way," the statement continues. "This is the approach the American people overwhelmingly support, and that is what the President will continue to fight for each day."
Despite Ryan's optimism, Democrats are already betting that the plan will be just as unpopular the second time around. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced Monday it plans to tie House Republicans who might run for Senate in 2014 directly to Mr. Ryan's budget proposal.
On Wednesday, Democratic Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray will unveil her 2014 budget proposal, which is expected to differ greatly with Ryan's, notably, by including revenue increases.