Dems Take on Ryan Budget? Unshared Sacrifice

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, Bill Pascrell, U.S. Congressman (D-NJ 8) and member of the House Budget Committee and Ways and Means Committee, and Carolyn B. Maloney, U.S. Congresswoman (D-NY 14), talked about past, present and future budget battles.

Spreading the pain?

For Representatives Bill Pascrell and Carolyn Maloney, a key consideration in the debate over fiscal austerity is whether or not all burdens are created equal. Both representatives were adamant that Representative Paul Ryan's (R-WI) 2012 budget proposal, and to a lesser extent, the 2011 budget, place undue stress on middle and low income Americans, as well as seniors, women and children.

Getting our fiscal house in order is all well and good, Pascrell said, but the Republican plan doesn't spread the pain so much as concentrate it.

Do we begin the process of getting government in balance? Only if there's shared sacrifices. The things we didn't like in the 2011 reconciliation was nothing was done in the defense budget. Only a small portion was cut, and yet we continue the process of giving tax cuts to those wealthiest Americans. We're going to change that when we get to the bigger debate.

Carolyn Maloney agreed that Ryan's budget unfairly tightened some belts while loosening others. What's more, she said the plan purports to deal with the deficit, but pairs spending cuts with revenue cuts that would reverse any headway.

Where it's moving us is towards not even reducing the deficit that much. In [Ryan's budget], they would cut spending on government programs over the next decade by $4.3 trillion, and they want to cut tax revenues over same period by $4.2 trillion. Government spending needs to be brought under control. But cutting services for police, fire, health, safety and education just to pay for more tax cuts is, in my opinion, not good economics, not good investment in the future, and not good public policy.

What New York and New Jersey can expect

How will the 2011 budget affect Pascrell and Maloney's states? What would Rep. Ryan's long term plan do to the region? 

Pascrell singled out federal spending cuts to environment and energy programs as being big losses for New Jersey. If the GOP's brief time in the Congressional majority is any indication, those institutions will be perpetually endangered for at least the next two years.

They're trying to dismantle the EPA; they don't even want the EPA to exist, they've said that in their literature. Specifically, the Tea Party has made it an anthem within whether they support candidates or not: 'Would you do away with the Energy Department? Would you do away with the EPA?'

Rep. Maloney said the budget proposals reflected a shift in burden not only from rich to poor, but also from national to local government.

It will grow the gap between the haves and have nots, and in my opinion it will raise taxes, particularly on urban areas like New York. When they slash these services, we're not going to have people sleeping on the street, or without homes, or without police protection. We will be providing it and probably taxing people more to make up for what the federal government cut out of our budget.

And then there's Medicare

Expect the two biggest flash points in the 2012 budget debate to be taxation and Medicare: Ryan's proposal cuts the top individual tax rate and the corporate tax rate by 10 percent, all while turning Medicare into a voucher system, essentially privatizing the program. Republicans expect Medicare changes to produce savings, which would then offset revenue losses from the tax cuts. Ryan has also been vague about closing certain tax loopholes as a means to raise revenue at the same time as lowering tax rates.

But Rep. Pascrell doesn't buy his math.

[Ryan's] numbers do not add up. The voucher system is horrible because there's a gap between the value of the voucher and the cost of health care, if you look at the trajectory of how health care costs have been going up, which this budget does nothing about. He hasn't decided how he's going to make up that difference either. He says we're going to do loopholes. Well, both parties talk about loopholes. Let's get very specific.

Concerned about the long term solvency and effectiveness of GOP-brand Medicare, Carolyn Maloney said that the track record for similarly managed "block grant" programs should raise red flags.

It will end Medicare as we know it. When things are block granted, you see what happens to them. The Community Development block grant is decimated in this budget, which puts the burden on the backs of the middle class and seniors. But it protects people earning higher income, even gives them a greater tax break. I think it's unfair.


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Comments [17]

Amy from Manhattan

geTaylor: Gov'ts. have tried that before. It leads to out-of-control inflation.

Apr. 14 2011 12:35 AM

Signs of a dysfunctional government?

Obama and the Congress have, I guess in honor or the Fukushima nuclear disaster, decided to cut nuclear safety funding.

How brilliant is that?

Relevant cuts compared to FY10 enacted:

Nuclear Regulatory Commission: -$16M
Nuclear Waste Disposal: -$101M
Uranium Enrichment Decontamination Fund: -$75M
FEMA National Predisaster Mitigation Fund: -$50M
FEMA First Responder Grants: -$786M
Defense Nuclear Waste Disposal: -$98M
Energy Information Administration: -$15M (where we get data to make decisions)
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: -$438M

Meanwhile, relative to Obama’s proposed budget, there is a put-back of $860M for “Innovative Loan Guarantees” in the area of energy. Not sure what this covers....

Those who do not learn form mistakes are doomed to repeat them (esp'ly pertinent to cutting SEC budget, eh?).

The source is the Republicans Appropritions Committee.

Apr. 13 2011 11:15 AM

I fear we have lost most of the Democratic Party DC pols to the Corporatist Wing of the Republicrat/Democran Corporatist Party.

There are some who still represent the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, but with a president who talks Republican talking points, who chose a Heritage Foundations RomneyCare plan to protect the big health insurance companies' profit levels, and who has not only accpeted Bush/Cheney's Unitary Executive power grab but extended it, I no longer have a party home.

I will be de-registering as a Democrat and registering as an idependent.

I can't believe Obama is succeeding in not only destroying the Democratic Party's brand image, but also its major legislative accomplishments from FDR, LBJ, and even those of the turn of the 20th Century's Progressive Movement.

Who represents the vast majority of people who are not Upper Class or Uberwealthy?

Please, may I be wrong on what Obama will do, but Pascrell is saying go with the Pete Peterson approach of Obama's Cat Food Commission's co-chairmen's report (not accepted by the necessary vote of the commission members, btw).

Pascrell seems trapped in Republican goals and talking points. Not even a mention of Jan Schkowsky's report?

Guess many Dems have bought into the strategy of getting all their campaign money from Wall Street and the Uberwealthy, and now dance to their tunes.

The voters? Out role is to be fooled that the Corporatist Dems actually want to help us.

This was a very depressing segment.

Apr. 13 2011 10:56 AM

@Amy from Manhattan:

No need to have a Federal Budget at all.
The "Feds" can simply print the needed currency.

Apr. 13 2011 10:41 AM
Amy from Manhattan

The"family budget" analogy isn't that simple. If the family had to live on its 2008 budget but had a new baby & a grandparent living w/them who needed professional home care, & 1 of the parents had lost a job & taken a new one that paid less, then no, they couldn't live on the budget that worked (or didn't) 3 years earlier. The US population has increased, more elderly people need care, & more working people are un- or underemployed. Hmm, maybe I should've thrown in a foreclosed-on home. So no, we can't go back to the 2008 budget.

Apr. 13 2011 10:34 AM
Your Neighbor from Manhattan

Wow, these guys are almost as good at fear-mongering as the Bush-Cheney team!!

Apr. 13 2011 10:31 AM


The honest people were not surprised that G.E.
paid no taxes - doesn't the CEO of G.E. hold a high position in the Obama administration?

Apr. 13 2011 10:31 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Maloney ....I VOTE NO!!!!! SPEND,SPEND,SPEND !!!!!

Kinda goes against the usual lefty narrative as to where the radicals are....the ones who won't compromise....doesn't it?

Maloney now says...."don't cut spending during a recession"....OK.
She is also on record in 2005 as saying ..."Why cut spending for programs when so many people are doing so well?"

Does she EVER see a need for responsible government spending?

Apr. 13 2011 10:23 AM

Can you do something about clearing up this guy's connection?

Apr. 13 2011 10:11 AM
RLewis from the bowery

One borough, Brooklyn, has a larger population than 10 red states. If nyc were a state it would be the 9th largest in the entire US. Blue NYC is getting ripped off. We're not getting equal representation. We deserve to have 2 senators for just this City.

Apr. 13 2011 10:11 AM
Robert from NYC

I'm one of Maloney's constituents and I don't want her to vote for this. It's... Baloney!

Apr. 13 2011 10:10 AM
Robert from NYC

Who are these people? Well based on the statistics you just read they are the stupid Americans who have no idea, NO IDEA, what they're in favor of!
We will screw ourselves into the ground. It's called masochism.

Apr. 13 2011 10:09 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

I'm sorry...error...the BLUE STATES were at the bottom of the Pew study.

Apr. 13 2011 09:51 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

That's funny......and I know some figures can be spun to support that.....because people in the blue states overwhelmingly feel that THEY in fact support the generous nanny benefits and ineffifiencies of public-unionized red states like NY and California. Because blue state unions make it so hard to get reasonable, cost productive government or fire bad employees, the Pew Center on the States ranked the red states at the bottom on government performance....and the states that prohibit collective bargaining were at the top. recently cost the Los Angeles school district $3,500,000 (!) to fire 7 (SEVEN !!) bad teachers. And that was out of 33,000.
LOL.........yes, the red states should transfer money here to pay for more surrealism like that.

Apr. 13 2011 09:49 AM


"the blues states are subsidizing the red states. can’t our representatives bring more of our tax dollars back to our communities?"

seems like the mindless whine one always hears from the rich concerning the poor on the subject of taxes and subsidies?

I guess urban sophisticates such as Charles Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Charles Rangel, and Barney Frank can't help themselves from being "snookered" at those legislative bargaining sessions.

why do you think that continues to happen?

Apr. 13 2011 09:33 AM


"the blues states are subsidizing the red states. can’t our representatives bring more of our tax dollars back to our communities?"

seems like the mindless whine one always hears from the rich concerning the poor on the subject of taxes and subsidies?

I guess urban sophisticates such as Charles Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Charles Rangel, and Barney Frank can't help themselves from being "snookered" at those legislative bargaining sessions.

why do you think that continues to happen?

Apr. 13 2011 09:28 AM

the blues states are subsidizing the red states. can’t our representatives bring more of our tax dollars back to our communities?

Apr. 13 2011 07:44 AM

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