Values and the Ryan Budget

From Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (

by Tara McGuinness, Center for American Progress

Proverbs 14:31. “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

My whole life I have been taught to stand up when the strong and the powerful attempt to trample over everyone else.  Rep. Paul Ryan grew up Catholic, just like me, so it is surprising that his budget reflects none of these values we learned as children. The driving principle behind the Republican House budget that he drafted appears to be — let the strong and powerful benefit at the expense of everyone else, especially the poor and those in need.

A closer look at the accounting of “The Path to Prosperity,” reveals that the House Republican budget lets the bullies win, at the stake of well, everyone else: the middle class, seniors, working families and the poor.

A quick tally of who wins and who loses in the Republican budget looks like this:

  • For the 1%, it provides more than 3 trillion dollars of tax cuts for the rich and wealthy companies;
  • For big oil, it keeps in place $40 billion in tax giveaways;
  • For seniors, it shreds the health care services they are counting on – driving up costs, ending Medicare as we know it;
  • For the working poor, it cuts efforts to help struggling families get back on their feet, it ends meals for families amid deep job losses including $1 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program;
  • For the disabled and children at risk, it leaves them on their own.

Serve the rich. That appears to be the value driving this budget.  The Republicans’ plan walls off from consideration millions of dollars that go to the most powerful and wealthy Americans and companies through tax cuts, subsidies and benefits. At the same time, the oldest and frailest Americans, and those who are living on the edge, will see their lives impacted by dramatic cuts.  If that isn’t the strong preying on the weak, I don’t know what is.

There is a target on the backs of seniors and the working poor. As 70 percent of nursing home residents become Medicaid beneficiaries, seniors and their spouses could be left to fend for themselves at a time when they should be enjoying the retirement they’ve spent a lifetime earning. That is what the 1% is doing. The budget does not take sufficient precautions to prevent insurers from cherry-picking the healthiest beneficiaries from traditional Medicare and leaving sicker applicants to the government.

Under the House budget proposal, millions of people could be kicked off the nutrition assistance that stands between them and hunger, and their benefits could be so low that it would be difficult to afford three meals a day. In addition, for every $1 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, 13,718 jobs are lost and 16.2 billion meals are put at risk for low-income families.

We teach our children to stand up to bullies who steal the lunch money of the smallest kid in the class.  Perhaps, it is time for Rep. Ryan and his GOP colleagues to remember that nobody likes a bully. And, those of us who do care about the poor, about seniors, about students and about working and middle class Americans, we need to stand up and defend them from this vicious budget proposal.

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