(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The medieval vassal state was legend for the disparity established between haves and have-nots. Feudal lords routinely ruled their serfs without compassion or regard for their humanity. It was customary for feudal lords to live and feast in the lap of luxury while serfs scraped a meager living from unforgiving soil. When a serf was bold enough to poach food from the land to feed his family and was caught, the lord would usually inflict brutal retribution. This circumstance is often portrayed in the “Robin Hood” stories.
Most readers would consider this information to be disconnected from any frame of contemporary reference related to reality, but if we give full consideration to the “new” Republican budget presented by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and project its results to the logical conclusion, it portends an ominous economic future.
One of the most important tenants of the US Constitution is that government has the responsibility to act in a manner that supports the general welfare. As I have always known, general welfare relates to those actions which are so great in scope that it is impossible for the individual to manage alone. Examples of this are: construction of roads and infrastructure, public safety services, public education and public health programs.
The “new” Republican budget eliminates one of these programs and does serious damage to others. One could consider Ryan’s plan a program of Robin Hood in reverse. Under Ryan’s plan, affordable healthcare would be eliminated and Medicare and Medicaid would change drastically.
True to their pledge, the Republican budget plan would repeal the recently passed healthcare Bill. Among other things, this eliminates the extension of parental insurance benefits to students and the protections afforded citizens with pre-existing conditions.
Under Medicare, instead of the government reimbursing doctors and hospitals for medical services, seniors would be responsible for purchasing an optional private health care plan. The government would then pay the private insurer a subsidy up to a specified amount. Costs for needed or desired coverage beyond the subsidy would have to be paid for by the consumer or be forgone. Fortunately, these new plans would not affect those currently age 55 or over.
Likewise, Medicaid would change dramatically. Unlike the current matching plan that provides for cost-sharing between the federal and state governments, Ryan’s plan would have the federal government give a set amount of funds to each state and have the states manage their individual programs based upon available funds rather than the healthcare needs of recipients.
While introducing his budget plan, Ryan stated that the U.S. did not “have a taxation problem, but a spending problem.” Accordingly, his budget plan lowers the top tax bracket from 35 percent to 25 percent. One tax analyst projects that this will lower the tax liability for the average millionaire by $100,000 a year – saving that person $1 million dollars over each 10-year period. This generosity to millionaires is said to be justified by the belief that reducing the tax burden of the rich will lead to rapid economic growth and increase jobs.
One has to wonder why this same premise was unsuccessful after the Bush-era tax cuts. Under the budget plan, one must also wonder what the justification is for maintaining subsidies and tax credits that shield corporations from paying their fair share of taxes.
As I view the Ryan budget plan, I see a fundamental shift in the economic philosophy of this nation—a plan that places the burden of economic solvency upon the working class, while relieving the wealthy from the “nasty” chore of returning revenue to the country in proportion to the level at which they receive benefits of citizenship.
Dr. E. Faye Williams is chair of the National Congress of Black Women and chair of the board of the Black Leadership Forum. See website at www.nationalcongressbw.org or call 202/678-6788