Report | Budget, Taxes, and Public Investment

Paul Ryan’s Plan for Millionaires’ Gain and Middle-Class Pain

Briefing Paper #289

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Press release

In January 2010, the incoming House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R.-Wis.) presented “A Roadmap for America’s Future,” in which he proposed drastic policy changes with the stated goal of “putting the nation on a sustainable fiscal course” (Ryan 2010, iv). If enacted, Ryan’s Roadmap would dismantle social insurance programs, raise taxes on the middle class, and transfer wealth from the middle class to corporations and millionaires.

Recent deficit reduction proposals, including those from President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (the Fiscal Commission) and the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Deficit Reduction Task Force, have contained a mixture of revenue increases and spending cuts to achieve long-term fiscal stability. The Ryan Roadmap, on the other hand, makes no pretense of a balanced approach. It would slash Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits and deplete tax revenue. It trades middle-class pain for millionaires’ gains.

The Roadmap is riddled with policies that ignore the lessons learned from the Great Depression and underscored by the Great Recession. Policy and market failures set the stage for a meltdown of the global financial system and the worst recession since the Great Depression, but Ryan’s plan still swears by the failed Bush-era economic policies of cutting taxes for the wealthy while neglecting the middle class and national investments. It even proposes the partial privatization of Social Security, an increase in taxes on the middle class, the elimination of corporate taxes, and the privatization of Medicare.