Good analysis by Ezra:
don’t think Paul Ryan intended to write a budget that concentrated its cuts on the poorest Americans. Similarly, I don’t think Mitt Romney intended to write a budget that concentrated its cuts on the poorest Americans. But there’s a reason their budgets turned out so similar: The Republican Party has settled on four overlapping fiscal commitments that leave them with few other choices.
The Republican plans we’ve seen share a few basic premises. First, taxes are too high, and must be cut. Second, defense spending is too low, and should be raised. Third, major changes to entitlement programs should be passed now, but they shouldn’t affect the current generation of retirees. That would all be fine, except for the fourth premise, which is that short-term deficits are a serious threat to the country and they need to be swiftly cut.
The first three budget premises means that taxes and defense will contribute more to the deficit, and Medicare and Social Security aren’t available for quick savings. That leaves programs for the poor as the only major programs available to bear cuts. But now cuts to those programs have to pay for the deficit reduction, the increased defense spending, and the tax cuts. That means the cuts to those programs have to be really, really, really deep. The authors have no other choice.
My only quibble is that I think they had every intention of targeting the poor. The poor aren’t their targeted constituents.
But this is how it is with so much of the Republican party today. They have all these “deeply held” convictions, but are unable to explain why they believe what they believe. But they believe it, and anyone who strays from the doctrine is punished or shunned. Making things even more delicious is that many of their “deeply held convictions” are completely at odds with each other. You simply can not keep cutting taxes for ever while reducing the deficit. You can not keep spending trillions on defense while reducing the deficit. But each one of these issues- defense spending, tax cuts, deficit reduction are “deeply held” convictions for the nutters. Add to it that their current deepest conviction is that Obama is an illegitimate President who must be defeated at all cost, so even when he agrees to “grand bargains” that Democrats will hate, Republicans scurry away from their other convictions because they simply can not give Obama a “win” on anything.
Which is why anyone with an IQ over room temperature pays no attention to what the Republicans say, and which is why we mock people who run around pretending the Ryan plan is “serious.” It isn’t.