OEN & CBPP Analysis: Boehner’s Plan = “Greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history”

“House Speaker John Boehner’s new budget proposal would require deep cuts in the years immediately ahead in Social Security and Medicare benefits for current retirees, the repeal of health reform’s coverage expansions, or wholesale evisceration of basic assistance programs for vulnerable Americans. The plan is, thus, tantamount to a form of ‘class warfare.’ If enacted, it could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history. This may sound hyperbolic, but it is not. The mathematics are inexorable. Photo: All Rights Reserved by Collection Agency”–OpEd News


CBPP Statement: Updated July 26, 2011
For Immediate Release
Statement: Robert Greenstein, President, on House Speaker Boehner’s New Budget Proposal
Author: Robert Greenstein

House Speaker John Boehner’s new budget proposal would essentially require, as the price of raising the debt ceiling again early next year, a choice between deep cuts in the years immediately ahead in Social Security and Medicare benefits for current retirees, repeal of health reform’s coverage expansions, or wholesale evisceration of basic assistance programs for vulnerable Americans.

The plan is, thus, tantamount to a form of “class warfare.” If enacted, it could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history.

This may sound hyperbolic, but it is not. Both the mathematics and the politics are clear.

The Boehner plan calls for large cuts in discretionary programs of $1.2 trillion over the next ten years, and it then requires additional cuts that are large enough to produce another $1.8 trillion in savings to be enacted by the end of the year as a condition for raising the debt ceiling again at that time.
The Boehner plan envisions no tax increases, with its entire $1.8 trillion in additional deficit reduction coming from budget cuts. Speaker Boehner gave documents to House Republican caucus members stating that the $1.8 trillion would come from “entitlement reforms and savings” and that the plan “includes no tax hikes.” In addition, Speaker Boehner told radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh that Republicans appointed to the special committee that will craft the $1.8 trillion in savings won’t support tax increases and, in the unlikely event that that committee proposed a plan with tax increases, House Republicans would vote it down anyway.[1] A House GOP aide toldNational Review more bluntly: “We appoint members to the committee, and we’re not appointing any Republicans who will vote for tax hikes.” [2]
The first round of cuts under the Boehner plan would hit discretionary programs hard through austere discretionary caps that Congress will struggle to meet; discretionary cuts thus will largely or entirely be off the table when it comes to achieving the further $1.8 trillion in budget reductions. As Speaker Boehner’s documents make clear, virtually all of the $1.8 trillion would need to come from cuts in entitlement programs. (Cuts in entitlement spending totaling more than $1.5 trillion would produce sufficient interest savings to achieve $1.8 trillion in total savings.)
To secure $1.5 trillion in entitlement savings over the next ten years would require draconian policy changes. Policymakers would essentially have three choices: 1) cut Social Security and Medicare benefits heavily for current retirees, something that all budget plans from both parties (including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s plan) have ruled out; 2) repeal the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansions while retaining its measures that cut Medicare payments and raise tax revenues, even though Republicans seek to repeal many of those measures as well; or 3) eviscerate the safety net for low-income children, parents, senior citizens, and people with disabilities. There is no other plausible way to get $1.5 trillion in entitlement cuts in the next ten years.
The evidence for this conclusion is abundant:
The “Gang of Six” plan, with its very tough and controversial entitlement cuts, contains total entitlement reductions of $640 to $760 billion over the next ten years not counting Social Security, and $755 billion to $875 billion including Social Security. (That’s before netting out $300 billion in entitlement costs that the plan includes for a permanent fix to the scheduled cuts in Medicare physician payments that Congress regularly cancels; with these costs netted out, the Gang of Six entitlement savings come to $455 to $575 billion.)
The budget deal between President Obama and Speaker Boehner that fell apart last Friday, which included cuts in Social Security cost-of-living adjustments and Medicare benefits as well as an increase in the Medicare eligibility age, contained total entitlement cuts of $650 billion (under the last Obama offer) to $700 billion (under the last Boehner offer).
The Ryan budget that the House passed in April contained no savings in Social Security over the next ten years and $279 billion in Medicare cuts.

To be sure, the House-passed Ryan budget included much larger overall entitlement cuts over the next 10 years. But that was largely because it eviscerated the safety net and repealed health reform’s coverage expansions. The Ryan plan included cuts in Medicaid and health reform of a remarkable $2.2 trillion, from severely slashing Medicaid and killing health reform’s coverage expansions. The Ryan plan also included stunning cuts of $127 billion in the SNAP program (formerly known as food stamps) and $126 billion in Pell Grants and other student financial assistance.

That House Republicans would likely seek to reach the Boehner budget’s $1.8 trillion target in substantial part by cutting programs for the poorest and most vulnerable Americans is given strong credence by the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” bill that the House recently approved. That bill would establish global spending caps and enforce them with across-the-board budget cuts —exempting Medicare and Social Security from the across-the-board cuts while subjecting programs for the poor to the across-the-board axe. This would turn a quarter century of bipartisan budget legislation on its head; starting with the 1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law, all federal laws of the last 26 years that have set budget targets enforced by across-the-board cuts have exempted the core assistance programs for the poor from those cuts while including Medicare among programs subject to the cuts. This component of the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” bill strongly suggests that, especially in the face of an approaching election, House Republicans looking for entitlement cuts would heavily target means-tested programs for people of lesser means (and less political power).

In short, the Boehner plan would essentially force policymakers to choose among cutting the incomes and health benefits of ordinary retirees, repealing the guts of health reform and leaving an estimated 34 million more Americans uninsured, and savaging the safety net for the poor — or letting the nation default early next year. The plan would do so even as tax breaks, including the many lucrative tax breaks that go to the wealthiest and most powerful individuals and corporations, are protected by Boehner’s pledge that, in the highly unlikely event that the special committee proposes tax increases, House Republicans would vote down its budget package.

President Obama has said that, while we must reduce looming deficits, we must take a balanced approach. The Boehner proposal fails this test of basic decency. The President should veto the bill if it reaches his desk. Congress should find a better way to avoid a default.

End Notes:

[1] “Speaker Boehner Calls America’s Anchorman to Explain His Proposal,” available at http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_072611/content/01125106.guest.html.

[2] See Andrew Stiles, “A New Deficit Plan,” National Review Online, July 26, 2011.

# # # #

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization and policy institute that conducts research and analysis on a range of government policies and programs. It is supported primarily by foundation grants.


About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to OEN & CBPP Analysis: Boehner’s Plan = “Greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history”

  1. eslkevin says:

    Dear MoveOn member,

    House Republicans are out of control.

    With just 24 hours left to strike a deal that would prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debts, Republicans have walked away from the negotiating table.1

    The president has already offered them unthinkably deep cuts—even to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.2 But they refuse to even negotiate. Either 100% of their demands are met—not one more dime of taxes on rich, savage cuts to programs for working families, and even a repeal of key parts of last year’s health care reform law3—or they’ll force the U.S. into default.

    It’s really beyond the pale. And sadly, the only way they’ll come to their senses is if they see that they’ll pay a steep political price for their irresponsibility. So we need to let Rep. Flores and his colleagues know that the American people will hold them responsible for their hostage-taking.

    Can you call right now and tell Rep. Flores you’ll hold him accountable for his efforts to destroy the American Dream?

    Representative Bill Flores
    Phone: 202-225-6105

    Then, report your call by clicking here.
    The Republicans have created this crisis, and they’ll be responsible for the consequences. Raising the debt ceiling is a routine part of American politics. Republicans raised it seven times under President Bush. And President Reagan raised it 14 times.4

    But today’s tea-party Republicans decided to use this must-pass bill as a way to take the American economy hostage. And they’re intent on preventing anything that might be seen as a victory for the president, even after he’s agreed to their extreme demands.

    We need to expose their outrageous tactics, and make it clear that this is a crisis entirely of their own creation. Congress could pass a “clean” debt ceiling bill tomorrow and continue negotiations on the deficit without putting the world economy at peril. But Republicans will only act responsibly if they face enormous anger from their constituents.

    Can you call Rep. Flores right now to let him know you’ll hold him personally responsible for putting the economy at risk?

    Representative Bill Flores
    Phone: 202-225-6105

    Then, please report your call by clicking here:

    Thanks for all you do.

    Daniel, Stephen, Elena, Adam Q., and the rest of the team


    1. “Obama criticizes Boehner for walking away from talks,” NBC News, July 22, 2011

    “Small debt scheme as elusive as a grand one,” The Washington Post, July 24, 2011

    2. “Boehner and Obama Nearing Deal on Cuts and Taxes,” The New York Times, July 21, 2011

    3. Ibid

    4. “Democrats invoke Reagan in support of debt-ceiling increase,” The Hill, July 16, 2011

    Want to support our work? We’re entirely funded by our 5 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in here.

  2. eslkevin says:

    Dear Kevin,

    In an astonishing display of reckless partisanship, House Speaker John Boehner walked away from debt-ceiling talks at the last minute. Boehner aims to appease the Tea Party fanatics in Congress and special-interest campaign contributors, who increasingly suppress his better instincts to do the right thing. It’s now abundantly clear that the Republicans are willing to drive our economy off a cliff rather than ask millionaires, billionaires and the big corporations to pay their fair share.

    We’ve got to put a stop to this madness. Health Care for America Now is joining MoveOn.org and other leaders of the American Dream movement to ask people to show up outside Member of Congress’s offices on Tuesday at noon to deliver a crucial message: “Don’t destroy the American Dream.”

    Join thousands of others across the country tomorrow, Tuesday, July 26, at noon (local time) at your Congress member’s nearest district office.

    Yes, I’ll be there on Tuesday!

    When the Republicans walked away from what appeared to be an imminent bipartisan deal, they threw the economy, the international markets, seniors and middle-class families under the bus. They showed us they’re willing to default on Americans’ financial obligations and to default on the American Dream, which is made possible by programs like Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, college aid and much more.

    This is a moment when progressives need to come together to show our strength and let our boldest leaders know that we’re with them. And we need to hold the extremists accountable for their willingness to create an economic crisis because they want to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to pay for tax cuts for the super-rich.

    Tomorrow, stand up against the extremists in Congress who have engaged in political brinkmanship on steroids to protect tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans and big corporations.

    In Solidarity,
    Melinda Gibson

    P.S. You can download a variety of signs and other resources from MoveOn.org here: http://civic.moveon.org/default/index.html.

  3. eslkevin says:

    Dear Kevin,


    Will he have a future in the wild? Don’t let a runaway Congress open American wilderness for personal plunder.

    Please make an emergency donation today.

    We are witnessing an unprecedented legislative fit of destructive madness, the effects of which could scar America’s natural landscape forever.

    Please donate today. We need your urgent support to stop the attack on America’s wilderness in its tracks and to restore reason, balance and sanity to the debate.

    The full House of Representative will soon vote on a budget bill that would open up a million acres around the Grand Canyon to toxic uranium mining. And that’s just one of scores of special interest giveaways that will affect our nation’s iconic natural places.

    If that isn’t bad enough, California Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has introduced a separate bill to gut protections for tens of millions of acres of pristine wild lands, unspoiled forests, and fragile wildlife habitat. If the bill passes, our children will instead inherit lands scarred by mining and clear cuts, crisscrossed with roads carved by polluting off-road vehicles, developed, and stripped of their ecological treasures and scenic beauty.

    No one was elected to wreak destruction on America’s precious wild lands. This cannot stand.

    Please make an urgent donation today.

    Here’s what’s happening: Using the current deficit debate as a shallow pretext, oil and mining interests, developers, and others have mounted a ferocious lobbying campaign to grab up as much land as possible that has been set aside for this and future generations. They have sunk millions into K Street lobbyists and filled the campaign coffers of key Members of Congress. And they have built a juggernaut of destruction that has a real chance of passing in 2011.

    But today with your support of The Wilderness Society they can be stopped.

    With your help, Wilderness Society staff experts are speaking truth to power. We’re alerting America to the destructive binge unfolding on Capitol Hill. Our Wild Alert community is using the power of the Internet to hold lawmakers accountable who would elevate polluters’ interests over those of the American people and to mobilize thousands of Americans to express their outrage and demand a stop to the plunder.

    It took 17 million years for nature to carve the Grand Canyon. It belongs to all of us. It belongs to our children and our children’s children.

    We must not let it and other precious landscapes be opened for destruction overnight please donate today.

    Thank you for all you do on behalf of America’s wild treasures.

    Melanie Beller
    Vice President, Public Policy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s