House GOP Passes "Pink Slime" Budget

House GOP Passes "Pink Slime" Budget

Economist Paul Krugman calls the House budget "fraudulent" and "pink slime", a nod to that other heinous product.

The poster-boy for soft-serve conservative economics, Republican congressman Paul Ryan, has issued up another fatty budget proposal that was summarily passed by the Republican controlled House on Friday. The budget, which slashes benefits for the poor and unemployed, while protecting some of the greatest economic injustices in our current tax code benefiting the wealthy, is all political. It’s a bit of banner-waving for the “limited government” parrots in the GOP, and is likely to back-walk what limited economic progress we’ve made since the crash of 2008. In any case, it will never be passed in the Senate, and so we continue the dance of “who can lead worse”.

The new Ryan budget, in the words of economist and writer Paul Krugman, are “fraudulent” and “pink slime” (though Krugman admits that pink slime has some nutritional value while Ryan’s budget does not). The (now) House budget proposal depends on two very important truths, both of which are more fantasy than reality.

1)    That by closing tax loopholes the government can save trillions of dollars in lost revenue. Those tax loopholes, which supposedly exist in multitudes within our Gordian Knot of present tax codes, will need to generate $700 billion a year in order for the House budget to hold water. That’s a lot of loopholes. Unfortunately, Ryan’s budget doesn’t specifically name a single one. There are two reasons for this. Most of the largest tax loopholes (where the most federal revenue stands to be saved) are within the corporate tax code, a bit of corporate welfare that the budget wants to actually protect. The second is that if he started naming some actual loopholes, he’d have to provide all of them, and there aren’t enough to generate an extra $700 billion a year. Lack of specificity is a political lubricant, and this is what makes his budget “fraudulent”.

2)    The pink slime, which is a clever nod to another current sound bite, is in Ryan’s “filler”. He’s removing the nutrition, the actual benefit to American people in the form of Medicaid (which the House budget practically guts), and in terms of lowering other forms of federal aid and subsistence despite a stubbornly high unemployment rate. Then he’s adding little benefits to other Americans, those with deep pockets and a vested interest in slashing the capital gains tax (that’s the taxes collected on investments from people with the money to actually invest.) Krugman compares this approach to the 19th century food supply in which, “unregulated corporations bulked out their bread with plaster of paris and flavored their beer with sulfuric acid.”

Truly, this budget is the harbinger of another round of staunchly partisan behavior on the part of an ideological right-wing party with no interest in maintaining the integrity of the democratic process. For that to happen, both sides of the aisle would need to be functioning honestly and with the best interest of the American people in mind. The hard-line Republican right, which has a stranglehold on the GOP party, is not doing that, and so we should not expect an ethical political process, either with concern to the present budget or much of anything else in the run-up to the election.