, , , , , ,

Jonathan Chait calls Paul Ryan’s budget a “War on the Weak” and observes:

Ryan’s plan does do two things in immediate and specific ways: hurt the poor and help the rich. After extending the Bush tax cuts, he would cut the top rate for individuals and corporations from 35 percent to 25 percent. Then Ryan slashes Medicaid, Pell Grants, food stamps, and low-income housing. These programs to help the poor, which constitute approximately 21 percent of the federal budget, absorb two thirds of Ryan’s cuts.

Ryan spares anybody over the age of 55 from any Medicare or Social Security cuts, because, he says, they “have organized their lives around these programs.” But the roughly one in seven Americans (and nearly one in four children) on food stamps? Apparently they can have their benefits yanked away because they were only counting on using them to eat.

Ryan casts these cuts as an incentive for the poor to get off their lazy butts. He insists that we “ensure that America’s safety net does not become a hammock that lulls able-bodied citizens into lives of complacency and dependency.”

Question: Is Ryan channeling Sen. Jim Lembke (unemployed workers won’t “get off their backsides”) or vice versa? Or are they both channeling Ben Stein, whose personal survey reveals that:

The people who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities. I say “generally” because there are exceptions. But in general, as I survey the ranks of those who are unemployed, I see people who have overbearing and unpleasant personalities and/or who do not know how to do a day’s work.

[emphasis in original]

Nice of him to qualify his hasty generalization with the word “generally”, but Think Progress disagrees:

The current recession is a global phenomenon caused by the collective bad behavior of the world’s largest financial institutions. Before the recession, the unemployment rate hovered around six percent; it is ludicrious to say that [fifteen million] Americans suddenly got lazier and less able to work within the span of a few months.

But, to return to the subject of Ryan cutting federal revenue by extending the Bush tax cuts, a P-D letter writer pointed out: “There are two parts to a budget. One is revenue. That is not the part you cut.” More specifically, according to WillyK:

if we do nothing about spending, but just let the the Bush tax cuts die a natural death, we would halve the deficit by 2021.

Here at home, that lesson is lost on Lembke et. al., who are slashing state revenue by turning down tens of millions in federal funds already appropriated for us. They claim it’s a protest about federal overspending, though their action does not cut the federal deficit by one cent. But the Lembke loonies aren’t the only Republicans who don’t understand that balancing the budget gets harder if you cut revenue. Both chambers have voted to eliminate our corporate franchise tax, thus costing Missouri $87 million a year.

Does anybody in the state legislature besides Jeanette Mott Oxford speak up for the sanest way to increase Missouri revenue: that is, by raising taxes on the wealthier Missouri families? Our top tax bracket is $9,000. As in $9,000! That was a munificent salary when it was instituted in 1931. It was like making $300,000 in today’s economy. But as a top tax bracket in 2011, it’s ludicrous. August Busch IV is in the same tax bracket as people renting one room apartments in urban ghettos.

Meanwhile, the meanies in Jeff City are doing their best to shove more Missourians out of the top tax bracket. They’ve undone another of our citizen initiatives by ruling that minimum wage workers won’t get automatic Cost of Living Adjustments. They’re making war on unions. Ideally, Republicans would like to pass Right-to-Work-for-Less, but if they can’t get that one through the lege this year, they’ll settle for enfeebling unions by legislating that employees must give their consent before a union can use their dues for political purposes.

We can only wait to see how many of these bad ideas Jay Nixon will veto.

If Missouri workers don’t begin to notice that the GOP views them as parasites and the rich as their rightful rulers, the situation will continue to deteriorate.