A reflection on the House, Senate, and presidential budgets

We now have the House of Representatives budget authored by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan. We have the Senate budget authored by the Senate budget committee, chaired by Democrat Sen. Patty Murray. And we have the president's budget, authored ostensibly by Democrat Barack Obama.

You may have noticed they don't agree. The Republican budget reduces the government's domestic role drastically. Take oversight of the workplace. Republicans don't believe the government should play a big role in regulating worker health and safety, the actions of bankers and brokers, or what companies do with their waste. Or take services for low-income citizens. Republicans don't believe the government should function as a safety net for the poor, providing food stamps, housing, health care and extended unemployment insurance. A lot of other domestic services, like parks management, mass-transit support and food safety also take cuts. The budget is all spending cuts and no tax increases. Indeed, there are some tax cuts.

The Democratic budgets are pragmatic. They make cuts they think people will notice least. They increase taxes on the rich because they think the rich will feel them less -- and they have fewer votes. Obama cuts the Social Security cost-of-living increase as a carrot to get the Republicans to increase taxes.

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But the Republican plan is driven by an ideology. Ryan is sure he is right, that business does everything better and cheaper than government; that benefits to the rich will benefit all; that government generosity results in citizen indolence.

My own experience is that the profit motive damages education and health care (and also weapons manufacture); that the rich don't necessarily invest their gains back into the community; and that when humans are treated generously, we blossom.

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