Carol Shea-Porter: Has No Solutions, Doesn't Like Yours

My own CongressCritter and perpetual toothache, Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH01), pens an occasional column to the Little People Back Home, i.e. me, and perhaps you. Her latest effort is titled "Ryan's Path to Prosperity - Still a Bad Idea" and it appears at her government-provided website. Eventually, residents of NH01 may see it as an op-ed in their local papers.

Once again, let's take a look at Carol's column! Carol's words (appropriately) on the left with a lovely #EEFFFF background color; my comments are on the right.

The House Republican budget, crafted by the Chair of the House Budget Committee, has been presented. Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has kept the misnamed "Path to Prosperity" title for this year's budget, and he has also kept most of his really bad ideas. This budget is not based on any reality and lacks specifics because of that. As the Associated Press reported on 3/12/13, "A document released Tuesday offers few specifics on the proposed cuts to domestic programs, but it generally appears to incorporate spending levels for day-to-day agency operations significantly below levels called for by controversial automatic spending cuts." Congressman Ryan's budget needs to spell out the cuts so we can all judge it. You can check out Ryan's proposal, without the spin of AP or lefty think tanks, here.

What Carol doesn't mention: President Obama was also supposed to present his proposed FY2014 budget back in February. Not yet, as I type; its ETA is now sometime in the coming week. ("It's hard! It's math!")

It is true enough that Ryan's proposal does not get detailed enough for us to learn whether Your Federal Government will still be funding the study of duck penises. Instead it provides numbers for broad spending categories in a ten-year window. (E.g., $30.574 Billion for "General Science, Space and Technology" in FY2019.)

That's not specific enough for Carol. Fine. You might think that would be the end of her column, then. You would be wrong.

It also fails as a statement of our values, since its deep cuts tear at our moral and social fabric. And finally, since there is no effort to even acknowledge the other party or compromise on any issues what-so-ever, it has zero chance of success. So, what exactly is in this budget? Politicians are supposed to hide their arrogance, but Carol can flaunt hers at times. Like here, when she imperiously refers to "our values". Please.

She really means her values.

And one of her Highest Values: Federal government spending. Spending as much as it can possibly spend. And then some. More every year. Otherwise, you "tear at our moral and social fabric."

That fabric is apparently a very fragile item indeed. As Ryan pointed out: "current path" spending is scheduled to increase 5% per year through the ten-year budget window. Ryan's "deep cuts" proposal is to … gasp! … increase spending at a 3.4% rate instead.

Keep that in mind as you read Carol's phony apocalyptic rhetoric. We're just talking about different rates in spending growth.

There are tax cuts--for the richest among us. A Tax Policy Center analysis of the Republican budget shows that the average millionaire would reap a $408,000 tax cut under Chairman Ryan's proposal to reduce the top individual tax rate from 39.6% to 25%. Unless offset, the overall tax cuts in the Republican budget add an additional $5.7 trillion to the deficit over the next decade. Those in the top 0.1% of income, who make $3.3 million or more, would get a whopping $1.2 million on average-a 20% increase in their after-tax income. Another one of Carol's "values" leads her to view tax policy not as a means of raising revenue, but as a means to kick rich people in the teeth.

In fact, Ryan's proposal is pretty tame stuff: simplify the byzantine tax code, lower rates, broaden the base. His goal is to have the Feds take in around 19% of GDP in revenue, which is the (high) ballpark of the long-term historical average since World War 2.

Don't look for Carol to propose specific tax ideas of her own. (Other than the constant "RaiseTaxesOnTheRich" drumbeat.) Like Tim "Turbo Tax" Geithner, she doesn't have a solution, she just doesn't like Ryan's.

I will not vote to give still more tax cuts to the wealthiest while asking the middle class to pay more. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "families with children that have incomes below $200,000 would have to face tax increases averaging more than $3,000 a year, if policymakers were to avoid increasing the deficit while reaching Chairman Ryan's 25-percent top-tax-rate goal." That is just morally wrong, and it is bad for our economy as well. We need a vibrant middle class to move this country forward. Carol's rhetoric about "still more tax cuts to the wealthiest" is dishonest. She voted for Obamacare, which (at current estimates) will raise taxes by over a trillion dollars over the next decade. And there's the $620 Billion "fiscal cliff" tax increases passed just a few months back. "Still more tax cuts"? Give me a break.

Note that Carol (however vaguely) admits that higher taxes can hurt the country's prosperity. She appears to think that this effect is magically confined to tax increases on the "middle class". It makes them less "vibrant".

But tax increases on the rich, no problem!

She doesn't have to resolve this contradiction, or even have evidence to support it. It's what she feels to be true, and that's all she needs.

There are changes to Medicare which would be devastating to senior citizens. Half of all seniors have an income of $22,500 or less per year, but the tax cuts go to the richest, and the cuts in benefits and the costs fall heavily on the old and the sick. Under the Ryan budget, our seniors would be handed a voucher and would have to go out and purchase their own insurance. The burden would be on them to keep costs down, and costs would rise faster than the voucher payment. My parents had enough difficulty negotiating the medical system with traditional Medicare. I cannot in good conscience vote to make it even more difficult and expensive for our older and sicker citizens. The Ryan budget also would increase seniors' costs for prescriptions, and slash Medicaid, despite the fact that 60% of nursing home residents need Medicaid to pay for their stay.

Ryan is (at least) honest about pointing out that Medicare and Medicaid are on a fiscally unsustainable path.

Carol prefers to ignore that. What's her plan? She doesn't have one.

Other to close her eyes, clap her hands over her ears, and whine about people who are actually trying to get the government's fiscal house in order.

Education is the key to prosperity for any nation, and as Dr. Jill Biden says, the country that out-educates us will out-compete us. Young people need a good education if they are to succeed, and their families need help with the high costs of education. The Ryan budget makes very deep cuts in education, taking us backwards instead of forwards. Actually this tired "out-educate/out-compete" rhetoric has been a Democrat staple in recent years. Carol (like her cronies) use it to assert (without evidence) that continually shovelling federal dollars into a pipe labelled "education" will magically produce smart people and economic prosperity coming out the other end.

But in fact the US already outspends other nations by a wide margin; the results are mediocre.

(It's hard to resist observing: if we were smarter, we wouldn't keep electing people like Carol Shea-Porter. QED.)

This is an area where I don't think Ryan's proposals go far enough. Democrats want to prop up this wasteful, corrupt system at 110%; Ryan wants to do 80% instead. Please, someone: put it on a glide path to zero.

Transportation takes a hit under the Ryan plan. This is the moment where we can invest in infrastructure and both create jobs, and repair and rebuild. The Democrats' budget calls for an infrastructure bank to get America moving again, while the Ryan budget slashes investments. Again, wrong direction for job creation. Another bit of magical "Federal spending in/prosperity out" thinking from Carol. She relies on our short memories; didn't we just have an $833 billion "stimulus" that was supposed to fix all this stuff? Shovel-ready and all that? Supposed to get us back to full employment?

Never mind that, Carol says. We'll do it right this time. Promise.

Bullshit then. Bullshit now.

For those Americans who care about the old and the sick, who care about school lunches and Meals on Wheels for shut-ins, who care about education and research and infrastructure, this budget is the wrong approach. I care, I care, I care, Carol says. "Caring" focus-groups well.

But, for Carol, "caring" means spending other people's money. And spending more than you can actually afford. When you "care", there's never enough of that.

I know that we have to reduce the debt, […] Readers, if you've been paying attention, I bet you can guess Carol's next word.
but I believe a slow, careful, and balanced approach is the way to go. Countries like England that have tried austerity-only approaches have not been successful. Our economy, while still fragile, is improving. This is not the time to let ideology trump sound practice. Did you guess correctly? I bet you did.

Beyond throwing out adjectives ("slow, careful, and balanced"), Carol has no plan to actually regain fiscal sanity.

As for the UK (or, as Carol calls it, "England"): see Matthew Feeney: "British Austerity is a Myth, Despite What the Keynesians Say"

Last Modified 2024-02-20 1:11 PM EDT