Ryan’s Regressiveness Redux

paul ryanRepublicans lost the election but they still shape what’s debated in Washington — the federal budget deficit and so-called “fiscal responsibility.”

The White House’s and the Democrat’s continuing failure to reshape that debate has lead directly and logically to Paul Ryan’s budget plan this week, which is a more regressive version of the same plan American voters resoundingly rejected last November.

Sadly, the President is playing into the GOP’s hands with a new round of negotiations over a “grand bargain.”

Despite February’s encouraging job numbers, the major challenge is still jobs, wages, growth, and widening inequality — not deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility.

We’d need numbers like February’s every month for the next four years to get anywhere close to the level of unemployment we had before the Great Recession. But we won’t get there because of the austerity policies the nation has embarked on, and the continuing erosion of the middle class.

Austerity economics — of which Ryan’s upcoming budget is the most extreme version — is a cruel hoax. Cruel because it hurts most those who are already hurting; a hoax because it doesn’t work.

The entire framework is based on the false analogy that the federal budget is akin to a family’s budget.

robert reichFamilies do have to balance their budgets. But that’s precisely why the federal government has to be the spender of last resort when consumer spending falls short of boosting the economy toward full employment.

And as long as income and wealth continue to concentrate at the very top, the broad middle class and those aspiring to join it won’t have the purchasing power to boost the economy.

So why even try for a “grand bargain” that won’t deal with these fundamentals but only further legitimize the GOP mythology and further mislead the public about what’s really at stake?

Robert Reich
Robert Reich’s Blog

Monday, 11 March 2013

Published by the LA Progressive on March 11, 2013
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About Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written eleven books, including The Work of Nations, which has been translated into 22 languages; the best-sellers The Future of Success and Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His articles have appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Mr. Reich is co-founding editor of The American Prospect magazine.

Reich has been a member of the faculties of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and of Brandeis University. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College, his M.A. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and his J.D. from Yale Law School.