WASHINGTON – Vice-President Joe Biden Monday launched a broadside at the slashing budget plan of House Republicans, kicking off a campaign to try to raise the profile of GOP budget cuts and income inequality as an election-year issue.
Biden attacked the budget plan by Rep. Paul Ryan — his GOP counterpart on the 2012 vice-presidential ballot — as being tilted in favour of the wealthy and shortchanging investments in infrastructure, education and health research. He said it reflects “an orthodoxy that devalued … paychecks. They tilted the tax code in favour of unearned income, over-earned income, inherited wealth over take-home pay.”
Speaking at George Washington University, Biden said Ryan’s plan would deliver a huge tax cut to upper-bracket earners while cutting spending on road and port construction, Medicaid care for women in nursing homes, research into a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, and grants to local law enforcement.
Citing a study by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think-tank , Biden said people making more than $1 million a year would win a tax cut averaging $87,000 under the GOP plan, which would drop the top income tax bracket from almost 40 per cent to 25 per cent. Meanwhile, curbs on tax breaks enjoyed by the middle class like the deduction for mortgage interest would raise taxes on many middle Americans.
Biden didn’t make the case for the White House budget, which raises taxes on wealthier people, curbs tax breaks for the oil and gas industry, and leaves costly benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid mostly alone.
“Show me your budget, and I will tell you what you value,” Biden said, quoting an expression of his father’s.
“House Republicans have a plan to balance the budget and create jobs. But the administration doesn’t have much to brag about,” said Ryan spokesman William Allison. “Now all they’ve got left are baseless attacks and stale rhetoric.”
Ryan’s budget would make deep cuts to Medicaid and gradually transform Medicare into a program in which future retirees would be given a subsidy to buy health insurance on the open market rather than a defined package of benefits, which analysts say would likely mean higher out-of-pocket costs.
“There’s not going to be enough money to buy back the same benefits,” Biden said.
Biden’s critique mirrors those of congressional Democrats, but it was the highest-profile administration attack on Ryan’s budget this year.