Washington, D.C. — Ahead of the U.S. House budget release and markup this week, a new issue brief from the Center for American Progress examines the selective deficit hysteria employed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Republican congressional leaders. As CAP’s brief notes, Speaker Ryan and other leaders use excessive concern over federal budget deficits—or “fiscal hysteria”—as a weapon to attack programs for low- and middle-income Americans, but they conveniently omit concern over budget deficits when advocating for tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.
“The deficit fear-mongering from Speaker Ryan and House Budget Chairwoman Diane Black is nothing more than an empty justification to attack programs that help working families afford basic necessities such as health care, food, and housing. The whole purpose of passing this budget is to pave the way for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations, with everyone else getting stuck with the bill,” said Harry Stein, director of fiscal policy at CAP.
CAP’s brief focuses on how the budget resolution will likely express a great deal of alarm about budget deficits to justify big spending cuts to programs such as Medicaid and nutrition assistance, while at the same time enabling Congress to pass large deficit-increasing tax cuts that will primarily benefit the wealthy. This construct continues a long pattern of selectively and hypocritically using fiscal hysteria as a weapon to justify unpopular spending cuts, while the truly sought-after policy outcome is tax cuts for the wealthy rather than deficit reduction.
As CAP’s brief notes, the potential reconciliation instruction for $200 billion of mandatory spending cuts is dwarfed by $462 billion of tax cuts that could be allowed under a “revenue-neutral” tax reform using the current policy baseline budget gimmick. Exaggerating budget deficits tilts the political playing field toward the kind of trickle-down agenda expected from the congressional majority.
Click here to read “How Paul Ryan’s Hypocritical Fiscal Hysteria Threatens Working Families” by Harry Stein.
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