Budget: Directors Cut

By Miles Leicher

Here’s an idea: the next time Republicans float a budget plan that consists of tax cuts for the rich and spending cuts for the poor, they have to do what Hollywood does when it wants people to buy the same, tired crap they’ve seen dozens of times before: release it in 3D!

How exciting would that be? Just picture it – hundreds of pages of bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo flying right over your head! Hear the trickling down of supply-side economics in Dolby Surround 7.1! See the faces of poor, disenfranchised people so close it seems you could reach out and touch them…but don’t because eww.

House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan – who moonlights as “Gabe” on NBC’s The Office – is behind the latest GOP plan to reduce the deficit by (spoiler alert) taking an ax to programs like Medicaid and Pell Grants for low-income families. Those reductions will mostly be spent on tax cuts that the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities says could save the country’s lowest income families an extra 0.2 percent on their tax bill. That’s almost 100 bucks! Not to mention that it would cut taxes on millionaires by around 12.5 percent, or $265,000 (seriously, they’d prefer that you not mention it). Republicans acting like this budget isn’t about making the rich richer is like pretending Titanic isn’t about the ship sinking; we all know that sucker winds up at the bottom of the ocean. 

Like all budget plans, regardless of party, this one protects Social Security entitlements for the senior citizens who will undoubtedly drive down to the ballot box on Election Day. The problem is that it does nothing to provide care for injured shoppers at the farmers market they plowed through to get there. And the only program that sees an increase in spending is – you guessed it – the military. But in a 3D budget plan, that makes sense because it looks cool when they blow shit up.

A little perspective: when James Cameron was preparing to re-release Titanic – in 3D! – he got word from astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson that the night sky depicted in the original film was not the view of the stars that would’ve been visible from the middle of the Atlantic in 1912. So Cameron changed the movie. And his ego is bigger than Pandora, that planet where the giant blue people live.

Now imagine that, instead of some facts being wrong in a silly movie where people f**k in old cars while a boat sinks, they were wrong in a government document that could actually affect the lives of millions of people? Most economists – like Paul Krugman – agree that this approach to federal budgeting won’t do anything to help us get out of the fiscal and economic rut we’re in. A rut that was dug with massive tax cuts and deregulation. Or, as Krugman put it, “it’s voodoo economics, with an extra dose of fantasy, and a large helping of mean-spiritedness.” Then again, that was also his review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

As I see it, the GOP has two options: they can hope people don’t notice that this “new” budget plan is just the same shit on different day, or they can call it a 3D IMAX Experience and see how many suckers fall for it. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to go back to Titanic.