Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) — who is supposedly one of the Republican party’s “Young Guns” — has released a budget “Roadmap” that balances the federal budget by privatizing Social Security and Medicare and swapping out the corporate tax for a national sales tax. The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes called it “the most important proposal in domestic policy since Ronald Reagan embraced supply side economics in the 1980 presidential campaign. However, it is such a stark outline of the kind of cuts required to balance the budget entirely on the spending side that even Republican leaders have distanced themselves from it.
Today, Ryan appeared on CNBC and was asked about his plan. He warned that unless Congress adopts the sort of measures he prescribes, tax increases and benefit cuts for seniors will surely follow:
If you do that [follow the Roadmap], you will get us on the path toward prosperity. If you don’t do that, then it’s austerity, raising taxes on the economy now, cutting benefits for seniors currently.
So Ryan is essentially saying that unless Congress passes his tax raising, benefit cutting plan, then it will have to raise taxes and cut benefits. He acts like his cuts aren’t draconian, but as Ezra Klein wrote, his plan calls for “the government capping its payments and moderating their growth in such a way that many seniors will not get the care they need.”
It’s also odd to see Ryan raising the specter of tax increases, because according to Citizens for Tax Justice, his Roadmap raises taxes on fully 90 percent of people, while still losing $2 trillion in revenue. Under Ryan’s plan, “the bottom 80 percent of taxpayers would pay about $1,700 more, on average, than they would if President Obama’s [budget] proposals were enacted,” while “the richest one percent would pay about $211,300 less.” “It’s difficult to design a tax plan that will lose $2 trillion over a decade even while requiring 90 percent of taxpayers to pay more. But Congressman Ryan has met that daunting challenge,” CTJ wrote.
CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla actually asked Ryan about CTJ’s report, and while Ryan felt comfortable enough to scoff as CTJ’s methodology, he did not provide any rebuttal to its numbers. Instead, he simply pivoted into a discussion of his proposal to replace the corporate income tax with an 8.5 percent national sales tax.
The implementation of a national sales tax, which targets low- and middle-income families who “spend most or all of their income on consumption,” along with his abolition of the corporate and estate taxes, are what cause the dramatic shift of tax burden from the rich to the lower- and middle-class under Ryan’s plan.