Robert Greenstein, Center on Budget & Policy Priorites, March 2012- The new Ryan budget is a remarkable document — one that, for most of the past half-century, would have been outside the bounds of mainstream discussion due to its extreme nature. In essence, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse — on steroids. It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history). ...
Specifically, the Ryan budget would impose extraordinary cuts in programs that serve as a lifeline for our nation’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens, and over time would cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their health insurance or become underinsured. It would also impose severe cuts in non-defense discretionary programs—much deeper than the across-the-board cuts ("sequestration") that are scheduled to take place starting in January — thereby putting core government functions at still greater risk. Indeed, a new Congressional Budget Office analysis that Chairman Ryan himself requested shows that, after several decades, the Ryan budget would shrink the federal government so dramatically that most of what it does outside of Social Security, health care, and defense would essentially disappear.
Yet alongside these extraordinary budget cuts, with their dismantling of key parts of the safety net, the budget features stunning new tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. These tax cuts would come on top of the average tax cut of more than $125,000 a year that the Tax Policy Center estimates that people who make over $1 million a year will receive if — as the Ryan budget also proposes — policymakers make all of President Bush’s tax cuts permanent.
In fact, TPC reported that the four major new tax cuts in the Ryan plan would cost $4.6 trillion in lost federal revenue over the next ten years. All four revenue-losing measures would disproportionately benefit wealthy Americans.
The Ryan plan would cut Medicaid by more than $800 billion over the next ten years and steadily larger amounts after that . . .
Also striking is Ryan’s slashing of non-defense discretionary spending, which funds everything from veterans’ health care to medical and scientific research, highways, education, national parks, food safety, clean air and clean water enforcement, and border protection and other law enforcement. This part of the budget also funds a number of programs to assist poor or otherwise vulnerable people such as low-income housing; child care for the working poor; Head Start; the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program; and home-delivered meals for seniors. . . .
The plan would gradually raise Medicare’s eligibility age from 65 to 67 for people turning 65 in 2023 and thereafter, even as it repeals health reform’s coverage expansions. This could leave 65 and 66 year olds who can’t get employer-based coverage out in the cold. . .
Once seniors reached the age of eligibility for Medicare, they would receive a premium-support voucher to help them buy coverage, with the voucher apparently rising in value from year to year by the rate of growth in the Gross Domestic Product per capita plus one-half percentage point — which is below the rate of growth in health care costs in recent decades. Seniors who couldn’t afford to spend more than the voucher amount likely would have to purchase insurance that covered fewer health services as time went by, since the voucher likely would not keep pace with increases in health care costs.