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The Ryan Budget: How I Spent My Weekend

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The Ryan Budget Resolution was circulated to Members of Congress at 7 p.m. on Friday. It's 100+ pages. Amendments were due at noon Monday. That's the new normal in the GOP House -- accomplish nothing, and do it quickly.

Hypothetically, if you wanted to distill every form of right-wing economic lunacy into a 100-page document, then hypothetically, it would be the Ryan Budget. It's all in there, and I had to cuddle up with it this weekend. Tax cuts for the rich, the so-called "job creators." Tax cuts for multinational corporations, the other so-called "job creators." (Why don't they ever call them by their real name: the "job exporters"?) Cuts in middle-class tax benefits, like the deduction for pension benefits and IRAs, to pay for this. (Robin Hood in reverse.) Cuts in Medicaid and food stamps, because, you know, the Republicans want to make millions of sick, hungry poor people more self-reliant. A legal requirement to force the president to propose legislation to cut Social Security benefits and/or raise Social Security taxes, to make Obama do the Republicans' dirty work for them. Big jumps in student loan interest rates. And massive increases in military expenditures.

Republican "ideas" -- don't they just stink? Don't they just stink out loud? Like with a bullhorn -- that loud?

And bear in mind that this is not some Monty Python proposal, put forth by the People's Front of Judea, or even the Judean People's Front. No, this is a resolution written by the gentleman who might be Vice President today, if Mitt Romney weren't such a fop.

The weather was very nice in Central Florida this weekend. I could have spent the time at the beach. But duty called, so instead I read though that compendium of cruelty, that syllabus of stupidity, that oeuvre of offal, that digest of dreck.

("So how do you really feel about it, Alan?")

And then got to work. Before the noon deadline Monday, I introduced eight amendments to the Ryan Budget Resolution. Here they are:

(1) "Nothing in this resolution shall be construed to mandate, support or require any reduction in Social Security or Medicare benefits." (Last year, I delivered to Speaker Boehner's office almost 3,000,000 signatures on a petition saying this; let's see whether he listened.)

(2) For Medicare, rather than defending from benefit cuts only "those in or near retirement," I would protect "everyone." (Yes, everyone -- including you.)

(3) For Social Security, rather than requiring the President to introduce legislation to cut benefits, I would require him to introduce legislation NOT to cut benefits.

(4) Rather than increasing student loan interest rates, I would cut them until they are no higher than what Wall Street pays for loans from the Federal Reserve. (Thank you, Senator Elizabeth Warren, for this proposal.)

(5) The Ryan Budget Resolution has a sentence regarding so-called "free trade" that says, "The idea that global expansion [meaning outsourcing] tends to hollow out US operations is incorrect." I would change "incorrect" to "correct" -- possibly the shortest amendment in history (only two letters!).

(6) As between men and women, equal pay for equal work.

(7) Prohibiting the destruction of middle-class tax breaks like exclusion of employer healthcare coverage from income, the deductibility of pensions and IRAs, etc., for the purpose of lowering tax rates on the rich.

(8) Instead of cramming more and more cash down the gaping maw of the military-industrial complex, we change federal spending priorities in order to achieve full employment. (For instance, a million dollars spent on a bridge creates roughly four times as many U.S. jobs as a million dollars spent on the military -- and after it's spent, we have a bridge.)

So, that's how I spent my weekend. House of Cards will just have to wait. (So please, no spoilers in your comments.)

Thanks to gerrymandering and Big Money, my party, the Democratic Party, is a minority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Even though my party received 1.5 million more votes in the last election, there are 235 Republicans and only 200 Democrats in the House. The Rules Committee decides on which amendments the House votes. Thanks to internal gerrymandering, the GOP outnumber the Democrats on that committee by 9 to 4. So there is a good chance that none of my amendments will ever come to a House vote.

So what? At least I did my job. As Dylan Thomas would say, I will not go gently into that good night. I will rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

I'm willing to fight for Social Security, Medicare, student loans, U.S. jobs, equal pay, progressive taxation and full employment. I know that a lot of people are counting on me to do just that.

Including you.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-- Dylan Thomas, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" (1951).