On Thursday, Don Young voted for the Ryan Budget for the third year in a row. This bill is an attack on Alaska and Representative Young should be ashamed that he voted for it.
The Ryan/Young budget raises taxes on the middle class by an average of $2,000, cuts the Head Start program by $19 billion, reduces Medicaid by $732 billion over 10 years, decreases funding for veterans healthcare, and turns Medicare into a partially funded voucher program. Then, rather than put the “savings” into deficit reduction, the Ryan Budget plows a huge portion of the money into a tax cut for the very wealthiest Americans, who would see their taxes fall by an average of $87,000.
In Alaska, the Ryan/Young budget also raises prescription drug prices on 2,564 seniors, lays off 60 teachers, and cuts Pell Grants for 850 Alaskan college students.
The Ryan/Young Budget is, at its core, a declaration of class warfare — and unless you are one of the millionaire lobbyists or billionaire Wall Street financiers that Representatives Young and Ryan rub elbows with, it is not a declaration on your side.
Don Young is not chairman of any committees, nor will he ever be again due to his corruption charges, and his party leaders do not allow earmarks, so he cannot bring back money for Alaska roads. Even worse, the Ryan/Young budget slashes infrastructure funding by $173 billion over the next decade. It also fails to take any meaningful action on jobs other than the same tired, “trickle down” arguments that Republican President George H.W. Bush once famously referred to as “voodoo economics.”
Particularly harsh are the cuts to veterans’ health care. According to the non-partisan VoteVets.org, 39.3 percent of veterans use Medicare, compared to 14 percent of the general population, and many use Medicaid to supplement Veterans Administration benefits as well. A VoteVets press release concluded, “These proposals are draconian, cruel, and unfair to those men and women who put their lives on the line for this country. But, unless we spread the word about how severely the Ryan/Republican plan will hurt veterans, most Americans won't ever know.”
Now, if the Ryan/Young Budget really represented an effort at shared sacrifice and deficit reduction it would at least have one major redeeming quality. We all want to see our budgets balanced over the long term. But it does not do so, at least not in any reality shared by Americans lacking Ryan’s religious belief in those “voodoo economics.”
A Washington Post analysis of the budget found that “[the] proposals fall short of balancing the budget, forcing [Ryan] to resort to a vague promise of new revenue from ‘economic growth’ to meet his goal of wiping out deficits by 2024.” Famously, the 2012 version of the Ryan/Young Budget, which Young also voted for, predicted that a substantially similar proposal would magically reduce unemployment to 2.8 percent, levels unseen since World War II. This despite the fact that the direct cuts Ryan/Young proposed then and now would lead to massive layoffs in both the public and private sector.
Alaskans want an independent voice, who will show up and represent Alaska. Twelve Republicans put their constituents’ interests ahead of Paul Ryan and voted against this anti-Alaskan budget. It’s too bad Alaska’s Congressman didn’t have the guts to join them.
Forrest Dunbar is a lifelong Alaska, a former fisherman and wildland firefighter, and a current candidate for U.S. Congress.