As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

New And Improved, With Numbers!

Tired of all the mockery, Congressional Republicans today released a budget - OK, made a plan to release a budget.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell joined their colleagues, entering from the side, and addressed the gathered reporters.

After ripping the Democratic budget as too expensive, Boehner said that "Republicans in the House will offer a better solution that'll be less on spending, less on taxes and a lot less on debt for our kids and grandkids."

But there was no budget. "Do you guys have a formal budget yet?" asked a reporter.

"Mr. Ryan will outline the Republican budget at 10:30 this morning. And yes we do have it," replied Boehner, referring to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.).

A silence followed, with reporters apparently unsure what to ask next.

I'm beginning to think the Republican Party is a giant episode of "Punk'd."

What amounts to the alternative budget, as described by Paul Ryan in the Wall Street Journal, consists mainly of those innovative and fresh ideas like cutting taxes on corporations and the wealthy, freezing spending in the middle of a recession, and drilling for oil.

* Deficits/Debt. The Republican budget achieves lower deficits than the Democratic plan in every year, and by 2019 yields half the deficit proposed by the president. By doing so, we control government debt: Under our plan, debt held by the public is $3.6 trillion less during the budget period.

* Spending. Our budget gives priority to national defense and veterans' health care. We freeze all other discretionary spending for five years, allowing it to grow modestly after that. We also place all spending under a statutory spending cap backed up by tough budget enforcement.

* Energy. Our budget lays a firm foundation to position the U.S. to meet three important strategic energy goals: reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, deploying more clean and renewable energy sources free of greenhouse gas, and supporting economic growth. We do these things by rejecting the president's cap-and-trade scheme, by opening exploration on our nation's oil and gas fields, and by investing the proceeds in a new clean energy trust fund, infrastructure and further deficit reduction.

* Tax Reform. Our budget does not raise taxes, and makes permanent the 2001 and 2003 tax laws. In fact, we cut taxes and reform the tax system. Individuals can choose to pay their federal taxes under the existing code, or move to a highly simplified system that fits on a post card, with few deductions and two rates. Specifically, couples pay 10% on their first $100,000 in income (singles on $50,000) and 25% above that. Capital gains and dividends are taxed at 15%, and the death tax is repealed. The proposal includes generous standard and personal exemptions such that a family of four earning $39,000 would not pay tax on that amount. In an effort to revive peoples' lost savings, and to create an incentive for risk-taking and investment, the budget repeals the capital gains tax through 2010 for all taxpayers.

On the business side, the budget permanently cuts the uncompetitive corporate income tax rate -- currently the second highest in the industrialized world -- to 25%. This puts American companies in a better position to lead in the global economy, promotes jobs here at home, and strengthens worker paychecks.

In case you missed it, Ryan wants to drill offshore in order to fund clean energy. My head hurts now.

They also helpfully scored the competing budgets over a 70-year time-frame, and while I think they're off a bit in 2072, you can plainly see that government under Robot Obama, who will be governing until he is 117, will explode in size.

Ryan also came up with a new health care plan while simultaneously cutting entitlements, a neat trick. (This shows that Republicans are deathly afraid of being left behind on health care reform, actually. It's quite interesting.)... aha, I see how they pull this off, they actually phase out Medicare over time. Brilliant!

Ryan calls on the Administration not to sow fear over their alternative budget at the same time that Judd Gregg takes to the Washington Post to sow fear about the President's budget. But it's not working. Americans don't mind investments in their future; in fact, they voted for them. And the Obama budget would actually reduce federal deficits by $900 billion dollars compared to current policies. The cuts are simply in programs and areas that conservatives don't like, such as ending privatization in various forms, stopping cost overruns in defense, incorporating tax fairness, and pulling back on subsidies for rich corporations.

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