One Pagers

Who Pays To Fix The Budget?

March 21, 2013 10:48 am ET
Today, House Republicans passed the Ryan budget after rejecting the other plans on the table yesterday. Given the record inequality in America and the budget choices we face, here's what their votes mean.

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Republicans in Congress want us to believe we can fix our country's problems by giving more to those who already have a lot.

Connect: Our national budget is more than just numbers. It's about the kind of country we want as Americans.

Define: With the rich getting richer and everyone else falling behind, Republicans in Congress still won't ask the well-off to help pay to fix our problems. 

Remind: The richest 1% got the income gains of our recovery while everyone else's incomes dropped.

Contrast: But instead of asking millionaires and corporations to pay their fair share, Congressional Republicans keep shifting more of the burden to ordinary families and seniors.

Expose: The Republican budget gives millionaires more tax breaks, paid for by raising taxes on regular people and getting two-thirds of its cuts from the working poor and middle class.

Values: America does better when we all do better and our leaders choose all Americans instead of just the richest few.


MYTH: "We're facing a debt crisis."

  • Even Republican Speaker John Boehner admits that we don't have a debt crisis right now. When GOP leaders are agreeing with the President and nonpartisan experts like the CBO about this, it's not really a point of controversy.
  • What we have is a jobs crisis. We should be doing everything we can to put Americans back to work, which is the best way to deal with the deficit anyway.
  • We need to fix our budget and a tax code that's rigged to favor the wealthy. That means cutting the things we don't need -- like corporate tax loopholes and special tax breaks for the rich -- so we can protect the things we need, like jobs and education.
  • Instead, Republicans in Congress keep trying to force European austerity on America and using arguments about the deficit and interest rates that apply to Europe but not America.

CLAIM: "Republicans in Congress are willing to raise taxes if Democrats agree to entitlement reform."

  • Let's be clear on what Congressional Republicans want here: privatize Social Security, turn Medicare into a voucher, and wash their hands of Medicaid altogether.
  • And in exchange for what? "Tax reform," which for them, really means more tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations. 
  • The reality is that Republicans in Congress refuse to name a single tax loophole they would actually close. Instead, they're trying to rig the tax code to favor the wealthy and multinational corporations even more.
  • That's not what fiscal responsibility or staying true to our values as Americans looks like. In these tight times, we should be investing in what works -- the most efficient systems for securing our health care and financial security.

CLAIM: "The GOP plan balances the budget in 10 years."

  • There's a reason why Congressman Ryan says "the most important question isn't how we balance the budget." He doesn't want to talk about how. For the numbers to add up, the GOP budget has to either massively raise taxes on the middle class or massively add to the debt.
  • That's because Republicans in Congress are proposing to let wealthy people and big corporations pay far lower tax rates than they do now, which means everyone else has to make up the difference. It's simple math.
  • In fact, Republican budget would make families with children pay an average of $3,000 more in taxes but give millionaires would a net tax cut of nearly $250,000. You pay more so they pay less.
  • So Republicans in Congress are again trying to meet their budget goals by waging class warfare on the middle class -- and even then their budget still won't balance without fantasy assumptions.



  • The richest 1% of Americans has 40% of the nation's wealth, while 80% of Americans have only 7%.
  • The wealthiest 400 people in this country own more wealth than the bottom half, or 150 million Americans.
  • The wages of most workers have barely risen since 1980 because the vast majority of the gains from growth have gone to the wealthiest few. In fact, America's median household income has dropped by more than $4,000 since 2000, after adjusting for inflation.
  • 120% of the gains of the economic recovery have gone to the richest 1%, which means that the 99% went back into recession so that the richest few could come out better in 2010 and 2011.
  • The median net worth for middle-class families dropped by nearly 40% from 2007-2010 -- about the same as wiping out 18 years of savings for the average middle-class family.
  • The effective corporate tax rate plunged to a 40-year low in 2011 even though corporate profits have hit a 60-year high. Corporations haven't paid the "sticker price" rate in 45 years, and 26 major companies paid absolutely nothing in taxes over the last four years.


  • Faith leaders, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have condemned the Ryan budget as "immoral" and "counter to our values."  
  • According to experts, the Republican budgets would constitute the largest redistribution of income from bottom to top in modern U.S. history.
  • The Republican budget would cause massive layoffs and slow the nation's economic growth by drastically cutting money out of the economy.
  • Two-thirds of the cuts in the Republican plan come from programs that serve the working poor and middle class families, such as Pell grants, school lunches, food stamps, and job training.
  • At the same time, the Republican budget includes $6 trillion in tax cuts mostly benefiting the wealthy and big corporations -- paid for by raising taxes on households with incomes below $200,000. That means ordinary families with children would pay an average of $3,000 more in taxes while millionaires would get a net tax cut of nearly $250,000.
  • The GOP budget would also lower the top corporate income tax to 25%, which would provide a tax break worth more than $1 trillion, even though dozens of major, profitable corporations like GE and Verizon are getting away with paying nothing at all.
  • The Republican budget would leave more than 40 to 50 million more Americans without health insurance and make it easier for private insurers to rip off everyone else.
We develop messaging by aggregating, analyzing and distilling polling, tested messaging, and expert recommendations, and monitoring the media to identify what is and isn't working. See here for some of the experts and organizations we draw on.


Posted in - Budget - Taxes - Economy - Jobs

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