Economics and Budgets

I am not an economist.  I was a software engineer who decided to become a stay-at-home dad/Household Manager.  I had no course on Econ while in college.  I had a high school understanding of supply and demand.  A few months ago, I picked up “An Idiot’s Guide to Economics”.

Even with my rudimentary understanding, I can see that to have an actual budget that matters, expenses cannot exceed income.  To have a budget that is workable, you need to know exactly what the income is.  To have a budget that is workable, you need to know where the money is going.

Budget proposals are useless if they contain magic asterisks.

By now it’s a Republican Party tradition: Every year the party produces a budget that allegedly slashes deficits, but which turns out to contain a trillion-dollar “magic asterisk” — a line that promises huge spending cuts and/or revenue increases, but without explaining where the money is supposed to come from.

But the just-released budgets from the House and Senate majorities break new ground. Each contains not one but two trillion-dollar magic asterisks: one on spending, one on revenue. And that’s actually an understatement. If either budget were to become law, it would leave the federal government several trillion dollars deeper in debt than claimed, and that’s just in the first decade.

Sure, these are proposals and not the actual budget that will become law, but these proposals are good for showing where the priorities of the Republican party lie.  Being magic asterisks, there are few points of hard data — but there are some:

So, about those budgets: both claim drastic reductions in federal spending. Some of those spending reductions are specified: There would be savage cuts in food stamps, similarly savage cuts in Medicaid over and above reversing the recent expansion, and an end to Obamacare’s health insurance subsidies. Rough estimates suggest that either plan would roughly double the number of Americans without health insurance. But both also claim more than a trillion dollars in further cuts to mandatory spending, which would almost surely have to come out of Medicare or Social Security. What form would these further cuts take? We get no hint.

So, the Republican ideas for “promoting the general welfare” is to take away from the poor and your grandparents.  And to take away people’s health insurance.

Seriously, people — they want to take away medical coverage for your grandparents.  They want to take away food and medical coverage for people who have fallen on hard times, perhaps due to a high rate of unemployment.  Republicans want to take health care away from people who could not otherwise afford it.

How have they so confused their supporters that stealing from grandparents seems the best way to go?

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