Last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) called for “elements” of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) radical “Roadmap for America’s Future” — which purports to balance the budget via draconian cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — to be included in the 2011 budget. Cantor’s call came after the Republican leadership spent the last congressional session backing away from Ryan’s plan.
On Meet the Press yesterday, the garbled message from the GOP continued, with Cantor telling host David Gregory that the “direction in which the Roadmap goes is something we need to embrace”:
CANTOR: David, we’ve–we have a program that we have seen one of our members, Paul Ryan, the chairman of the Budget Committee, put together called the “Roadmap.” And he and Kevin McCarthy and I wrote a book together, and in that book we reserved a chapter for a discussion about Social Security, about Medicare, and how we can begin to at least discuss to do that. [...]
GREGORY: How about–and the irony of Paul Ryan being introduced, the budget chairman, and he’s doing the response to the State of the Union, he is the one who’s proposed draconian cuts to Social Security and to Medicare and Republicans don’t stand behind him.
CANTOR: David, that’s not true. I just told you that we put a chapter in our book about it because the direction in which the Roadmap goes is something we need to embrace.
Gregory repeatedly pressed Cantor on which aspects of the Roadmap he wants to implement — including cutting Social Security benefits via privatization and a raise in the retirement age — but Cantor refused to specifically endorse anything. For the record, in addition to gutting Social Security, the Roadmap also calls for privatizing Medicare and implementing a tax reform package that manages to raise taxes on 90 percent of Americans and still lose $2 trillion in revenue over ten years due to dramatic tax reductions for the wealthiest Americans.
Under the Roadmap, effective tax rates will be higher on the middle class than for millionaires. Not only that, but the Roadmap would actually fail to stem the growing national debt. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities pointed out, under the Roadmap, “the debt would continue to grow in relation to the size of the economy for at least 40 more years — reaching over 175 percent of GDP by 2050. Even by 2080, the debt would still equal about 100 percent of GDP.”
It’s possible that Cantor — like his and Ryan’s co-author, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) — doesn’t actually understand what the Roadmap would mean in practice. But the likelier story is that the Republicans would love to implement the Roadmap, but understand that such draconian cuts would be immensely unpopular, so they continually mention the document while leaving aside all of its specifics.