Top Obama advisor Plouffe denounces Ryan budget plan
The Obama administration has spoken out against the 2012 budget plan Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) presented last week. Over the weekend, Obama’s senior advisor David Plouffe appeared on several talk shows to dismiss Ryan’s plan and promise that President Obama will address it in a Wednesday speech — two days from the expiration of the stopgap 2011 spending bill that was hurriedly passed late Friday night to avert a government shutdown.
Ryan’s plan has come under intense scrutiny for using unrealistic projections of the next decade in America’s economy. Many found the notion of unemployment dropping to 2.8 percent in 10 years, as outlined in the Ryan plan, laughable; indeed, the think tank whose data he was using has since adjusted its projections. Plouffe, however, principally denounced the bill for the tax breaks he says it would give to the wealthiest Americans.
On Ryan’s plan, Plouffe told David Gregory of NBC’s Meet the Press:
It may pass the house. It’s not going to become law. And I don’t think the American people are going to sign up for something that puts most of the burden on the middle class, people trying to go to college, on senior citizens, while not just asking nothing of the wealthy—giving them at least a $200,000 tax cut. That’s a choice you’re making.
I think the president’s goal, and he’s been clear about this, is to protect the middle class as we move forward here. So people like him, as he’ll say, who’ve been very fortunate in life, have the ability to pay a little bit more. Now, under the Republican congressional plan, people over $250,000 get over a trillion dollars in tax relief. So this is the important thing: you’re making a choice. You’re asking seniors and the middle class to pay more. You wouldn’t be having to do that if you weren’t giving the very, very wealthiest in the country enormous tax relief.
Plouffe said that the president has been clear about his desire to eventually increase taxes on the country’s top earners. By contrast, Plouffe said later on the show, Ryan’s plan would give the average millionaire a “$200,000 tax cut while asking more of the middle class.” Plouffe also said the Ryan budget would end up costing the average senior an additional $6,000 in health care, though he did not make it clear if this was an annual or lifetime estimation.
That last point — the Ryan budget’s impact on health care for seniors — is something Obama is expected to address in his speech on Wednesday. The most radical aspect of Ryan’s plan is arguably its complete overhaul of Medicare and Medicaid: it would replace Medicare with a voucher system and hand power over Medicaid to state governments with the help of federal grants.
Like Ryan’s unemployment stats, the numbers he used in developing the Medicare plan have been called into question. A National Trust financial analysis found that Ryan used general projected inflation rates rather than the inflation rate of health care costs alone in his voucher proposal. If his plan were implemented, the analysis claims, the rapid rise of health care costs would quickly leave seniors behind and unable to pay for health care using their vouchers.
Obama has largely avoided involvement in the debate over just what to do with entitlements like Medicaid and Medicare, which have become increasingly expensive over the years. It’s not yet known how he will propose cutting costs without the massive and controversial overhauls such as Ryan has advocated.