Welfare for the Wealthy

When conservatives rail against redistribution, it’s important to understand what they mean by the term. It’s not that they are opposed to removing resources from one sector of the economy and moving them to another, but that they’re opposed to taxing funds from rich people, and directing them toward the poor. If you go from the other direction, taxing money from ordinary Americans and giving it to the rich, then there isn’t a problem.

To wit, the budget of GOP wunderkind Paul Ryan—which calls for big tax cuts, small deductions, and severe spending cuts—would raise middle-class taxes, and give a huge break to the wealthiest Americans. The Washington Post reports:

The tax reform plan that House Republicans have advanced would sharply cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and could leave middle-class households facing much larger tax bills, according to a new analysis set to be released Wednesday. […]

The net result: Married couples in that income range would pay an additional $2,700 annually to the Internal Revenue Service, on top of the tax increases that are scheduled to hit every American household when the George W. Bush-era cuts expire at the end of the year. Households earning more than $1 million a year, meanwhile, could see a net tax cut of about $300,000 annually.

The report was commissioned by Senate Democrats, who are trying to build support for a plan to raise taxes on high-income earners. Given that taxes will go up if Congress does nothing, this is arguably a waste of time. But the report itself is useful, if only to further demonstrate the extent to which the Republican budget is meant primarily to lower tax burdens on the rich.

It should be said that this budget forms the template for Mitt Romney’s proposals, which reveals another important fact about the GOP platform: For as much as Republicans are running as “job creators,” the fact is that these policies—low taxes for the rich, sharp cuts to social spending—have been a priority for decades. Actual economic conditions are nearly irrelevant to GOP policy proposals. Unemployment could be at 6 percent or 12 percent; either way, Republicans would tout the “Ryan plan” (or some variation of it) as their solution.

If what you’re looking for is big rhetoric, then you could call this “bold.” But if you want actual solutions, it’s absolutely foolish.