I don't see why Republican leaders are "wincing" over Rep. Paul Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future." Yes, it would force them to sign on to massive cuts in Medicare and Social Security, and yes, to actually specify where they want to make cuts in the federal budget. But there are plenty of goodies for the mass of GOP lawmakers committed to reducing the tax burden on the wealthiest Americans.
Under the Ryan plan, taxes for the richest 1 percent of Americans would fall by half, on top of making the Bush tax cuts permanent. The Ryan plan would reduce the top marginal tax rate from 35 percent (where it is under Bush policies) to a historically low 25 percent. In concrete terms, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, households with incomes of more than $1 million would receive an average annual tax cut of $502,000, and the richest one-tenth of 1 percent of Americans would receive an average tax cut of $1.7 million a year. To offset these tax cuts, the Ryan plan would place a consumption tax on most goods and services.
These taxes would overwhelmingly affect working and middle-class Americans. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, the Ryan plan would increase taxes by an average of $2,000 on everyone with an income under $100,000. Indeed, that doesn't capture the starkness of the change; under the Ryan road map, the tax burden increases as you go down the income scale. To quote the CBPP, "The plan would shift tax burdens so substantially from the wealthy to the middle class that people with incomes over $1 million would face much lower effective tax rates than middle-income families would." As a result of this huge inversion of the tax burden, federal debt under the Ryan plan would skyrocket to 175 percent of GDP by 2050.
Republican uneasiness with Paul Ryan has almost no basis in reality. After all, they're all on the same page! Like his Republican colleagues, Ryan is only rhetorically committed to deficit reduction; by and large, his time and energy has gone toward upwardly redistributing vast amounts of wealth. When it comes down to it, the "Roadmap for America's Future" is an almost perfect distillation of conservative thought on domestic policy. If anything, Republicans should thank him for the effort.
-- Jamelle Bouie