Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Democratic spokesperson Lori Montgomery reports...

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) today issued an alternative to the budget plan offered by the President. Democratic response was swift as key party leaders claimed, among other things, that the plan would “cut taxes for business and the wealthy, freeze most government spending for five years, halt spending approved in the economic stimulus package and slash federal health programs for the poor and elderly.”

Ooops, my bad – that wasn’t the Democrats reacting – that was from Washington Post writer Lori Montgomery’s opening paragraph in her online news article on the plan. What really caught my attention was her calm description of how the GOP plan would “slash federal health programs for the poor and elderly.”

Now we’ve all learned that when a Washingtonian says a program has been slashed, it usually just means the increases aren’t as much as (a) requested, (b) previously budgeted or (c) what the punditry thought should be allocated. So I looked elsewhere for my news.

The AP (really!) gave it a different slant: U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan Presents Republican Budget To House

They describe the tax cuts for the wealthy thusly:

The GOP plan would offer a dramatically simplified tax code in which couples would have the option of a 10 percent rate on the first $100,000 of income, with a 25 percent rate thereafter, with the first $25,000 of income exempt from taxation. Single could get a $12,500 exemption and a 10 percent rate on income up to $50,000…Taxpayers could also opt to remain in the current system.”

As a way of contrast, under current rules, Singles get a $5,450 exemption and a 10% tax rate through the first $8,025 of income. So if your single, don’t itemize and your gross income is, say, $21,000 – congratulations, Lori Montgomery thinks your wealthy.

As to the so-called cuts in Medicare, the AP reported that “Democrats warned that the GOP plan would force draconian cuts to the program.”

So perhaps if the AP wants to revise its story, it can report that “Democrats – including Washington Post reporter Lori Montgomery - warned that the GOP plan would force draconian cuts to the program.”

Here’s the link to the House Republican Budget Alternative. It explicitly notes that Medicare remains unchanged for those 55 and over. In fact, the biggest change would probably be felt only by “high-income seniors (those with household incomes exceeding the President’s benchmark level of $170,000)”.

This is all academic, of course, since this proposal will never see even a committee vote but I'm sure President Obama and other key Democrats are glad to see that Ms. Montgomery has their back.

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