Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison, who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari.)
Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
Last week in Washington was a tale of two budgets. One of them used popular, common-sense plans to create millions of jobs. The other had a battery of discredited ideas that would kill jobs and derail the recovery. Guess which one much of the mainstream media were chattering about?
On Tuesday, failed vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveiled this year’s version of his much-heralded “Ryan budget.” Like its past incarnations, this budget offers the kind of economic medicine that would kill the patient. While excluding some of Ryan’s politically toxic past schemes, such as Social Security privatization, it veers even farther to the right in crucial ways, caving to pressure from tea partyers who thought Ryan’s past efforts weren’t extreme enough. The congressman’s new effort includes a mad dash to completely eliminate the deficit within a decade, at a catastrophic cost: savage cuts to essential services and protections and the destruction of millions of jobs. As Europe reminds us again and again, austerity will only dig us deeper into recession.
Ryan’s budget is cruel, deceptive and incomplete. Even as the Affordable Care Act and Medicare expansion are being embraced by reality-based Republican governors (or those, such as Florida’s Rick Scott, who are experiencing a momentary bout of poll-induced realism), Ryan stubbornly ignores Congressional Budget Office evidence that the ACA decreases the deficit. Even at a moment when we need the safety net more than ever, Ryan wants to shred and slash programsincluding Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and domestic violence prevention. And even as Ryan coasts on his unearned reputation as a serious wonk, his budget math is full of holes. As The Atlantic’s Matthew O’Brienput it, this time “his magic asterisk needs to be even more magic.” Paul Krugman was less generous, calling Ryan’s successive plans “all smoke (I couldn’t even find any mirrors).”