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Ryan Budget Poses Far Greater Risk Than the Fiscal Cliff

Joseph Hines

It’s become a truism, but the evidence continues to mount that the Ryan budget plan would disproportionately hurt the young, sick, and poor. A new Center on Budget Policy Priorities report explores the impact of the $3 trillion dollar deficit-reduction plan on state and local governments. The cuts to state and local governments would be much more severe than those incurred by sequestration, three times greater in 2014 alone.

The CBPP finds that these cuts would reduce the “reach of [state’s] basic public systems — their schools, clean water facilities, and law enforcement activities.” In addition, the Ryan budget would cut Medicaid payments to the states by 34 percent by 2022. That number doesn’t even account for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which increased Medicaid spending dramatically. The percentage of government workers is already at its lowest level in thirty years. In effect, the Ryan budget would dramatically escalate the trend: transferring the cost of many programs from the federal government to the states. That would not only unfairly target the poor, it would hit vital social services for everyone.

As the political class chatters feverishly about the fiscal cliff, a simple fact bears reiterating: Some political leaders dream of inflicting far greater economic pain on Americans than anything we might see on January 1, 2013.