In his Aug. 26 column, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr defended several votes he has cast and activities he has undertaken as a freshman member of the House Financial Services Committee.
Like most House Republicans, Barr has embraced the federal budget proposed by Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee.
First proposed several years ago, the Ryan budget passed the House three times on partisan votes and was stopped in the Senate each time.
If the Senate and White House were to go Republican, the Ryan-Barr budget could become law.
This radical plan cuts taxes on the rich, slashes numerous programs that help the poor, leaves defense spending untouched and would require the elimination or reduction of several popular tax deductions that benefit the middle class.
Neither Ryan nor Barr has ever specified exactly which tax deductions they would eliminate for fear of alienating large numbers of middle-class voters.
The following dialogue illuminates the main features of the Ryan-Barr budget:
Husband: Dear, we have to talk about the budget.
Wife: Why, did we get a letter from the bank?
H: No, but that could happen any time. Our debt is way too high and we keep adding to it every year.
W: I know.
H: Fortunately, I have a plan which I've laid out here on spreadsheets.
H: The first step is for me to quit my full-time job and find a part-time one.
W: Um, how does that help?
H: And you can cut back a few hours on your job as well.
W: But won't that lower our income?
H: Wait, we'll economize elsewhere. For example, we're now spending $20,000 a year on the kids' food, clothing, and education. We could cut that down to $1,000.
W: But how will they survive?
H: They can spend more time over at the church, or at their friends' homes. Or they could get jobs. Don't you think they should learn some personal responsibility?
W: They're 9, 6 and 4.
H: Don't worry about the kids, they'll be fine. And look over here, our debt will go up for the first nine years, but much more slowly. Then we'll break even in year 10 and from year 11 on, our debt will start going down.
W: What about your antique car hobby at $40,000 a year? Can't we cut that?
H: No, we can't.
W: Is that so? Well what's this line, "Unspecified income?" It's huge.
H: Yes, that's what makes my whole plan work. It's great.
W: But what is it?
H: Just what it says: unspecified.
W: Am I going to have to get another job?
H: You know I'd never ask you to do that.
W: Well are you going to?
H: No, I told you I'm going part-time.
W: Are you going to rob a bank?
H: No, I'd be no help to the family in prison.
W: Buy lottery tickets?
H: No, the odds are no good.
W: Well, what is it then?
H: Just trust me, everything's going to work out great. Look at the chart that shows our debt declining in year 11.
W: I don't have a good feeling about this.
According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the size of the "unspecified income" line is $5.7 trillion over the next 10 years. Other financial analysts have called the budget "fraudulent."
I challenge Barr either to specify which middle-class tax deductions he would cut, or renounce the Ryan budget and propose his own plan in which the numbers add up.
Compared to the vast impact the Ryan-Barr budget would have on the poor and middle class, the total financial impact of Barr's activities on the Financial Services Committee is like a basketball thrown into the Grand Canyon.At issue