Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have been widely criticized for not revealing the details of their economic plan. But if you pick up the trail of clues they have left all over the campaign trail, it leads to the Ryan budget, which has failed to be signed into law despite several attempts.
Romney says he wants to cut tax rates by 20 percent across the board without increasing the deficit. However, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, and anyone with a piece of paper and calculator still say that the numbers just don't add up - and they are right. Romney can't achieve his revenue neutral goal by closing loopholes alone.
When pressed by reporters for details on their economic plan, both Romney and Ryan have said that the specifics would be worked out by Congress in the future.
However, the details may have been worked out long ago in Paul Ryan's budget plan, which was called "terrifying" by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).
"Ryan says his budget cuts more than $5 trillion in the next decade," according to Ezra Klein's Washington Post Wonkblog.
Perhaps not by coincidence, Romney's tax cut plan, before offsets, costs about $5 trillion.
Klein adds, "If you’re not cutting Medicare or Social Security or defense you’ve already taken more than half of the federal budget off the table. And you know what’s mainly left, the big pot of money you can still cut?... the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that more than six of every 10 dollars Ryan cuts from the federal budget is coming from programs for the poor."
The Ryan budget targets all government entitlement programs with massive cuts aimed at Medicaid and food stamps. But the middle class also takes a hit.
In addition to turning Medicare into a voucher program, PolitiFact says Ryan's plan cuts $700 billion from Medicare, which Ryan calls "savings." And, with the planned repeal of Obamacare, up to 129 million people, could find themselves with no health insurance.
Ryan's plan also cuts funding to education, employment training programs, Pell grants, agriculture, and transportation. Those cuts would be added to Romney's proposed cuts to foreign aid, Amtrak, and the complete elimination of agencies like the EPA, Housing and Urban Development, Planned Parenthood, Public Broadcasting, the endowment for the arts, and the Department of Education, among others.
All that cutting does not come without it's own price. There are jobs connected to all the federal agencies and programs that Romney and Ryan plan to slash.
"If some of Romney’s proposed individual income tax cuts were revenue-neutral (he has said that they would be, but has not specified what “base-broadening” adjustments he would make to the tax code to accomplish that), his plans would instead lead to employment losses of 608,000 in 2013 and roughly 1.3 million in 2014," according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Now add up all the money that will leave the economy when more than 4 million federal workers are laid off. Local businesses will have fewer customers, which will cause even more layoffs.
Romney admitted in a 2012 interview with Time Magazine that there are serious risks associated with the timing of his economic plan. Romney said, "If you take a trillion dollars for instance, out of the first year of the federal budget, that would shrink GDP over 5%. That is by definition throwing us into recession or depression."
Why Romney would risk causing a "recession or depression" for a budget that does not balance for more than 20 years and has been called "catastrophic" to the economy, devastating to millions of Americans, and mathematically impossible?
The Romney-Ryan budget combined with an expansion of deregulation achieves two of the main goals of the 2012 Republican Party; It phases out entitlement programs, and virtually eliminates environmental and banking regulation.
There may be one more reason for the 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls to pursue their secretive and risky economic plan. According to The Atlantic, "Under Paul Ryan's plan, Mitt Romney wouldn't pay any taxes for the next ten years -- or any of the years after that. Now, do I know that that's true. Yes, I'm certain."
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