House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). (Photo: Wikimedia)
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) was announced today as the Republican who will be responding to President Obama’s State of the Union address next week. Ryan has gained a (largely unearned) reputation as a fiscal hawk due to his radical Roadmap for America’s Future, under which the U.S. budget will eventually be balanced (after federal debt surpasses 100 percent of GDP), mostly via privatizing Social Security and Medicare.
According to an analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice, the Roadmap would raise taxes on 90 percent of Americans, while dramatically lowering them for millionaires. In fact, a new analysis from the Economic Policy Institute found that Ryan’s plan would ultimately translate into middle-class tax rates being higher than those for millionaires:
– The Roadmap would lead to the wealthiest Americans paying a lower average tax rate than most Americans. Eliminating taxes on capital gains, dividends, and interest, as the Roadmap proposes, would overwhelmingly help taxpayers at the top of the income distribution, who receive most or all of their income from capital. For example, Wall Street financiers could shelter all of their income as tax-free stock options or carried interest.
– Middle-class families earning between $50,000 and $75,000 a year would see their average tax rate jump to 19.1% (from 17.7%) under this plan—an increase of $900 on average [...]
– Millionaires would see their average tax rate drop to 12.8%, less than half of what they would pay relative to current policy
As EPI’s Andrew Fieldhouse concluded, under the Roadmap, “a long tradition of progressive taxation would be abandoned; millionaires and Wall Street bankers would pay significantly lower tax rates than middle-class workers…Income inequality would soar.”
Next week, on the same day that Obama delivers his address and Ryan gives his response, House Republicans will vote to endow Ryan with “stunning and unprecedented” powers to set discretionary spending levels that are binding on the House. The levels that Ryan has laid out, if actually enacted, would result in significant reductions to vital and popular programs like Pell Grants, the FBI, and the National Institutes of Health. This week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) also called for “elements” of the Roadmap to be in the first GOP budget.