Ryan’s Goal To Eviscerate And Discard Medicare Is Closer Than Anyone Thinks
Before Bruce Barlett served in George H.W. Bush’s Treasury Department, he was a Reagan economics advisor and before that he worked as an advisor to Ron Paul. He labored away as a tax specialist for the Heritage Foundation. Since then he’s quit the Republican Party and is now an independent, although, he likes to say, an independent Reaganite. A few days ago David Sirota, writing for the International Business Times, interviewed Bartlett for a podcast on what the repercussions of the Ryan-Trump Tax Scam are likely to be, particularly in terms of Ryan’s goal to destroy the social safety net and end Medicare. Bartlett’s point was that the Scam was designed “not only to deliver big tax cuts to the wealthy, but also to create large budget deficits to manufacture the budget conditions that will justify cutting larger social programs… [T]his is the culmination,” he warned, “of everything the right has been trying to do, literally, for decades. I would compare it to, in terms of the right, to the Great Society, in terms of liberalism. It is they have been talking about these things for a long time, and finally had the votes and presidential leadership that they needed to accomplish what they wanted to accomplish. And of course, one could characterize the right’s agenda, since that day, as trying to undo all of that.” He sounds like he’s been following Stephanie Kelton’s economics work, doesn’t he? He sees the tax bill as a deliberate step to create more debt, which can then be used as a justification to cut major social programs.
The right, a long time ago, figured out that they couldn’t assault the welfare state head on. It was too strong. So they’ve assaulted it through a back door, which is to systematically and consistently drain the government of revenues, and force, even Democratic presidents, such as Obama and Clinton, to do a lot of their dirty work for them by cutting spending, and holding back on new initiatives that are, in many cases, badly needed, and they’re simply continuing. The problem is, I think they’ve gone past the point of sanity. They’re simply doing things now that don’t even make sense.
…Many Republican presidents were willing to raise taxes if necessary to reduce the deficit. And Proposition 13 changed their philosophy because they could see that there was very large support from the general public for just slashing taxes and not giving a damn about spending. In fact, the authors of Proposition 13, [Howard] Jarvis and [Paul] Gann, said, “Cutting spending’s not our problem. We just want taxes cut. If you care about spending, if you care about government, you fix it.”
Immediately after that, Republicans glommed on to the idea that we should just cut taxes anytime, anywhere, anyway. And of course, Milton Friedman and other Republican economists agreed with them on that philosophy, but there was still a problem that some
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