People who are fans of the long-running Star Trek franchise might recognize the philosophical underpinnings of Rep. Paul Ryan’s latest budget proposal. With strictures on virtually every social welfare program and a big boost to military spending, it’s pretty clear that Ryan would like the United States to more closely resemble the Klingon Empire.
For those unfamiliar — the Klingons are a warrior race whose entire existence is predicated on battles and glory. That seems to be what Ryan values. We can’t find the money to take care of hungry children, the elderly, health care… but we can always find lots of cash to line the pockets of defense contractors.
According to the New York Times, under Ryan’s plan, military spending through 2024 would actually rise by $483 billion over the spending caps established in the 2011 Budget Control Act “consistent with America’s military goals and strategies,” while nondefense spending at Congress’s annual discretion would be cut by $791 billion below those strict limits Ryan said.
We get the whole small government fetishism that Ryan tries to promulgate. We just do not want it — under this kind of myopic austerity.
Under Ryan’s lunacy, domestic programs would be cut to the lowest levels since the dawn of modern recordkeeping. Medicare would be converted into a “premium support” system, where people 65 and older could buy private insurance with federal subsidies instead of government-paid health care. Doesn’t he realize that ice flows would be a lot cheaper and easier to administer? Assuming of course that his buddies in the fossil fuel industry don’t warm the Earth until there are no ice flows.
“We believe we owe it to the country to offer an alternative to the status quo. It’s just that simple,” Ryan said of his plan.
Even the fringe loonies of the Tea Party think Ryan has gone off the rails — albeit for the wrong reasons. Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, told Breitbart News that Ryan’s budget “should be found in the book store in the fiction department. If there is one thing we know about Washington, increased spending now with the promises of spending cuts on the future means we will get the spending but never the cuts.”
Even Sarah Palin chimed in calling the Ryan plan “The definition of insanity.”
For his part, President Barak Obama took the occasion to poke a little fun at Ryan’s proposal. Speaking at Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Obama likened the Ryan plan to a smelly sandwich. “If they tried to sell this sandwich at Zingerman’s, they’d have to call it the ‘Stinkburger’ or the ‘Meanwich,’” Obama said.
We all know that ever-expanding government is unsustainable. We also recognize that unnecessary regulation is anathema to democracy. Ryan’s poisoned pill really isn’t about either of those things. It’s about an ideology couched in unregulated industry, law made by corporate lobbyists and the systematic oppression of people on the margins of society. Ryan and people like him want to trade imaginary villains for real ones. They would simply cede government to corporate giants.
Maybe that world is fine if you’re a wealthy member of Congress, but for the rest of us, this kind of fanaticism just won’t fly.