Path to Prosperity…or the Poorhouse?

By Richard Thayer

As the deadline looms on whether or not to fund the nation’s budget for the remainder of this year, the House Republicans unveiled their “Path to Prosperity” budget on Tuesday. If this PTP were to be implemented, it could be renamed “Path to the Poorhouse” for millions of Americans.

The only ones for whom this budget would actually be a path to prosperity would be the country’s wealthiest citizens, those who make up around two percent of the population and already possess most of the wealth. Under the plan, Big Business would receive an additional 10 percent reduction in federal taxes. That’s for the ones who currently have to pay any taxes at all.

The so-called “Path to Prosperity” would cut the federal workforce by 10 percent over the next three years through attrition and freeze federal pay through 2015. The PTP would also reform what the Republicans refer to as government workers’ “generous benefit programs.”

Among the PTP’s extraordinary claims, Republicans say the PTP would “create nearly one million new private-sector jobs next year” and “bring the unemployment rate down to 4 percent by 2015.”

According to Think Progress of the plan: “It’s worth noting that this is not just unrealistic, it’s impossible.” If you would like to know why it’s impossible, you can access the article here. The article goes on to say that “If (Representative Paul) Ryan were promising a rapid drop to 5.5 percent unemployment, he’d be engaged in wishful thinking and unrealistic promises. But promising a rapid drop to 4 percent unemployment is rank dishonesty.”

Among other things, Ryan’s budget would cut $389 billion from Medicare and $735 billion from Medicaid. Ezra Klein, writing in the Washington Post, says that the Ryan plan for those two government services relies on the “same bait and switch: They use a reform to disguise a cut.” The reform for Medicare would come in the guise of privatization. Privatization is one of the ways Republicans plan to reduce big government (while increasing the power of big corporations). But instead of saving money, Ryan’s Prosperity plan would actually cost more money. This according to the Congressional Budget Office. But, as John Boehner would say, they’re welcome to their opinion. Don’t bother us with the facts.

In the meantime, many economists fear that Congress’s gridlock over whether or not to raise the nation’s debt ceiling could ultimately cause us to slip back into a recession, losing ground that has been made over the past two years.

If the debt ceiling isn’t increased says Nariman Behravesh, a chief economist from IHS Global Insight, “It would be a big, big, big deal. It could mean the collapse of the dollar.” And, says Gary Burtless, a former Labor Department economist, “For a rich country to play these types of games does strike me as being foolish in the extreme.”

It’s another game that pits the wealthy against the middle class and the poor.

Oh, and by the way, if the government does close up shop come Friday midnight, those in Congress will still be able to draw their paychecks. Naturally.


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