House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) appeared on NBC's "Today" show yesterday, and co-host Ann Curry asked a reasonable question about his budget plan: "Do you acknowledge poor people will suffer under this budget?" Ryan dismissed the idea out of hand.
The answer is important, in part for what he said, and in part for what he didn't say.
On the former, Ryan argued that high poverty rates are the results of "the president's policies." That's ridiculous -- poverty rates are high because a recession started in 2007, and it was followed by a global financial crisis in 2008.
He added, in apparent reference to welfare reform, "What we want to do is replicate those successful strategies that worked in the late '90's." But that's absurd, too, because as Ed Kilgore explained yesterday, Clinton-era welfare reform and Ryan's vision have nothing in common.
Finally, Ryan argued, "We just don't agree that throwing more money at failed programs works." The problem, of course, is that they're not failed programs -- as we were reminded this week, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps, has been an extraordinary success. Ryan doesn't want to eliminate "failed" programs; he wants to slash funding for effective ones.
And then there's what Ryan didn't say -- that poor people really will suffer under the Ryan plan.
Look, this really isn't complicated. Paul Ryan's budget plan is simply brutal towards the poor and working families.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's budget plan would get at least 62 percent of its $5.3 trillion in nondefense budget cuts over ten years (relative to a continuation of current policies) from programs that serve people of limited means. This stands a core principle of President Obama's fiscal commission on its head and violates basic principles of fairness.
While giving a massive tax break to the wealthy, the Ryan budget plan slashes funding for Medicaid, food stamps, and other for low-income programs, nearly all of which Ryan's plan would eliminate over the next couple of decades.
As the CBPP's Robert Greenstein put it, "[T]he Ryan budget would impose extraordinary cuts in programs that serve as a lifeline for our nation's poorest and most vulnerable citizens, and over time would cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their health insurance or become underinsured." He added that Ryan's plan "would cast tens of millions of less fortunate Americans into the ranks of the uninsured, take food from poor children, make it harder for low-income students to get a college degree, and squeeze funding for research, education, and infrastructure."
"Do you acknowledge poor people will suffer under this budget?" The fact that Ryan would acknowledge no such thing suggests he doesn't know what "suffer" means, or he's not as familiar with the consequences of his plan as he should be.