Contrasting budgets

A federal budget is usually a declaration of principles and priorities for the country. This year, when the 2014–15 budget had already been basically agreed to in Congress in late 2013, these proposals take on even more value as a partisan philosophy to be followed, showing a huge contrast between Democrats and Republicans.

Last week, Rep. Paul Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee, released a budget announced as a “Path to Prosperity.” This path designed by the former Republican vice presidential candidate is a recipe to decrease the federal deficit through reductions in the social safety net and drastic tax cuts for the highest income earners, both individuals and corporations. In order to balance the accounts, this budget saves money by eliminating the Affordable Care Act and its subsidies (despite its seven million enrollees), dismantling the Medicare system for future beneficiaries, increasing defense spending, and cutting Medicaid and other health care programs as well as food stamp benefits and Pell Grants.

A few weeks earlier, President Barack Obama did his part by releasing a budget that raises taxes on the wealthiest and gives tax credits to the middle class and low-income earners. It also cuts military spending and invests more in pre-K and K-12 education, among others.

The contrast between both budgets could not be starker. For Ryan, the goal is decreasing the deficit by cutting the federal funds that the poorest receive and letting the wealthiest keep more money. For Obama, the goal is investing in human capital, for example, by investing in education instead of cutting its funding.

The plans define very different philosophies. The cold, hard numbers mark clear differences—that cannot be erased with rhetoric—between both parties. This will help voters define, when the time comes, which of the proposals is better for their needs and interests.