And finally tonight, just another reminder of what a GOP takeover of the Senate would mean: the Ryan Budget on President Obama's desk, facing a "sign it or shut down the government" moment.
Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin on Tuesday will lay out a tough, election-year budget that purports to come into balance by 2024, in large part through steep cuts to Medicaid and food stamps and the full repeal of President Obama’s health care law, just as millions begin to see its benefits.
But even with those cuts, Mr. Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, is counting on a boost of economic growth to balance the budget, a boost he says will be gained by reducing the deficit. Many economists believe such dramatic spending cuts — especially those affecting the poor — would have the opposite effect, slowing the economy and lowering tax receipts.
“This budget stops spending money we don’t have,” writes Mr. Ryan, the Republican party’s vice-presidential nominee in 2012 and a possible presidential contender in 2016. “A balanced budget will foster a healthier economy and help create jobs. This will ensure the next generation inherits a stronger, more prosperous America.”
For now, the Ryan Budget is a cruel April Fools' joke. But if the GOP gets control of the Senate, there won't be anything from stopping them from passing his budget next year (assuming they eliminate the filibuster or find enough shell-shocked Democrats to go along) and putting it on the President's desk.
In his plan, military spending through 2024 would actually rise by $483 billion over the spending caps established in the 2011 Budget Control Act “consistent with America’s military goals and strategies,” while nondefense spending at Congress’s annual discretion would be cut by $791 billion below those strict limits.
In all, Mr. Ryan says, spending would be cut by $5.1 trillion over the next decade. More than $2 trillion of that would come from repealing Mr. Obama’s health care initiative, the Affordable Care Act, a political move that has become much more difficult with the closing of the first enrollment period. As many as 10 million Americans have gotten health insurance through the law, either through private policies purchased on insurance exchanges, through expanded Medicaid or private policies purchased through brokers but subsidized by the law.
As with past budget proposals, Mr. Ryan seeks to eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, then turn the health care program for the poor into block grants to the states — saving $732 billion over the decade. He would also cap and block-grant food stamps, starting in 2020, cutting that program by $125 billion in five years. The budget relies on imposing new work requirements on food stamp and welfare recipients.
Such an approach “empowers recipients to get off the aid rolls and back on the payrolls,” Mr. Ryan writes.
Hard to get them off the rolls when the massive cuts would damage the economy to the point where millions of jobs would be lost. Oh yes, and he's going to destroy Medicare too.
Here's the hard numbers:
But the toughest cuts would come from domestic programs that have already been reduced steadily since 2011, when Republicans took control of the House. Mr. Ryan’s 2024 domestic spending figure would be lower in nominal dollars than such spending was in 2005. Adjusted for inflation, it would be a 29 percent cut from today’s levels, and 28 percent below the average level of Bush administration spending.
A 30% cut to domestic programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps. And yet if the GOP wins the Senate, that's exactly what we'll face.