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Safety Net Under Attack: Paul Ryan and the House GOP Try Again

February 9, 2012, 8:00 am | Posted by Casey Schoeneberger

Lost amongst the GOP presidential primary and caucus races this week, Republicans in the House of Representatives quietly began proposing legislation intended to  implement Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) radical budget reforms.

Despite offering these budget proposals in a new calendar year, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out that the legislation simply revives last year’s attempt by Rep. Ryan’s to fundamentally alter the role of government:

The House may soon consider two bills (H.R. 3576 and H.R. 3580) that would limit federal spending to levels similar to those in the House-passed budget resolution, authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI)…These two bills would require large cuts in federal spending that would likely fall disproportionately on low-income people. They would exacerbate economic downturns by preventing the federal government’s “automatic stabilizers” — programs like unemployment insurance and food stamps — from expanding as they are designed to do to help support a weak economy. They would effectively require that all deficit reduction come from program cuts and none from revenues, thereby precluding balanced deficit-reduction packages.

In addition to undermining safety-nets like food stamps and unemployment insurance, Ryan’s new Medicare Plan (and bipartisanship work with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) ) still fails to adequately protect senior citizens and radically shifts rising healthcare costs into the hands of low-income seniors. Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo explains these radical changes:

The Ryan plan would cut Medicare in two major ways. It would gradually raise the age at which people become eligible for Medicare from 65 to 67, even as it repeals the health reform law’s coverage expansions. This means that 65- and 66-year-olds would have neither Medicare nor access to health insurance exchanges in which they could buy coverage at an affordable price and receive subsidies to help them purchase coverage if their incomes are low. It would also replace Medicare’s guaranteed benefit with a premium support contribution, or voucher, that would grow only by the general inflation rate — much more slowly than health care costs have grown in recent decades.

There’s no doubt that in time, Paul Ryan’s “new” budget proposals will be exposed as yet another attempt to eliminate the social and economic safety net. Just as Rep. Ryan and Republicans were stopped from implementing these radical reforms last year, people of faith and advocacy experts will expose Ryan’s budget reforms for the true threat they are to America’s vulnerable people.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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