Both Republicans and Democrats are publicly holding their noses as they support the Ryan-Murray budget plan, but Heritage Foundation economist Romina Boccia says many lawmakers are bluffing and actually scamming the American people.
"I think this is largely a smokescreen that nobody likes it. What both parties like about this deal is that it increases spending, and it does so immediately by a fairly large amount, $63 billion over the next two years. Any deficit reduction wouldn't happen until nine years later. It wouldn't start until 2022," said Boccia, who believes those cuts are unlikely to happen.
She told WND, "Even those savings may never materialize because the nature of them are Medicare provider cuts and there are more than 700 billion of those in the Affordable Care Act. The actuaries have already said these are unsustainable. Nursing facilities would have to operate at a loss, and many Medicare patients might lose access to care. So already down the road, there's a high risk of overturning those savings.
"So what do taxpayers end up with? More spending now and promises of savings in the future that may never materialize."
The conventional political wisdom suggests Republicans are going along with the Ryan plan because it's the best deal the Senate can agree to, and the GOP fears more public blame and backlash if the government were to be shut down again in January.
"This is likely the largest motivator in addition to that lawmakers obviously love to spend more," said Boccia, who doesn't buy the argument that the GOP would necessarily bear the brunt of the blame.
"If there had been a government shutdown because Republicans stuck to current law and said we want a clean (continuing resolution), it would have clearly been on the Democrats to cause this government shutdown," she said.
Boccia also has little tolerance for House Speaker John Boehner lashing out at conservative groups, including the Heritage Foundation, for what he says was condemnation of the bill before it was ever introduced and for opposing legislation that he says reduces the deficit.
"I'm not surprised," she said. "This is Boehner and Ryan's deal. They want it to pass. For Heritage and Heritage Action to come out and explain just what's in this deal and what a bad deal this is for the American taxpayer, they don't like to hear it so they will come out this way."
On Thursday, the House easily approved the budget, with an overwhelming majority of Republicans and Democrats backing the deal. Many Democrats loudly complained about the lack of long-term unemployment benefits being left out of the agreement. So is that a major win for Ryan? Boccia said it's just common sense not to string along the unemployed but instead create better opportunities for job creation.
"You can extend the long-term unemployment benefits longer, but in the end they will have to become part of the other safety net if they can't get back in the job market, so what we need is an economy that works better for the American people that creates the kind of jobs so we don't have this long-term unemployment problem," she said.
"Some of it also has to do with education and where people live. If you think about towns like Detroit, things aren't looking up there. So if you live there and you're having a hard time finding a job, some of these people might look to moving to other cities where there are actually jobs. There is a moving pain associated with this, but we have a dynamic economy and not all states are doing as well as others."