Senate Democrats issued a report Thursday seeking to highlight dubious arithmetic in the budget proposal unveiled this week by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
The memo — cheekily titled “Paul Ryan’s Hocus Pocus Budget” with a photo of a magician on the cover — shines a light on five problematic elements of Ryan’s plan. It offers a glimpse into how Senate Democrats will seek to discredit Ryan’s proposal as they advance their first budget resolution in four years, which does not purport to balance the federal budget but seeks to lower and stabilize the deficit in the long term.
One is Ryan’s promise that his roughly $4.5 trillion in tax cuts, attained by collapsing individual rates into two brackets with the goal of a top rate of 25 percent, would be revenue neutral. Ryan says he will make up the revenue by closing tax deductions and loopholes, but has declined to specify any he’d be willing to close.
Citing a Tax Policy Center report, the Democrats’ report concludes that “the only possible method of achieving such a rate reduction without adding to the deficit would be to eliminate many of the deductions and credits that middle-class families rely on.”
Another is the roughly $800 billion in unidentified cuts to mandatory spending in Ryan’s plan — a portion of the budget that includes popular low-income programs like Pell Grants, food stamps and tax expenditures for families raising children. The Democrats’ report describes these cuts as “unrealistic and unachievable” due to the importance of those programs.
In addition, the report bashes Ryan’s Medicaid plan as a massive cost-shift to states; it notes that he assumes $716 billion in Medicare cuts under Obamacare even as he vows to repeal the law; and it calls his broader revenue and spending assumptions “outlandishly rosy,” saying those cuts to taxes and spending are infeasible.
Ryan stressed this week that the blueprint would balance the federal budget in 10 years.
“We believe that we owe the American people a balanced budget,” he said. “And for the third straight year, we’ve delivered it. In fact, we’ve balanced this budget in just 10 years. This is a document — a plan that balances the budget in just 10 years.”
Read the Democrats’ report below.
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.