Paul Ryan: Trickle Downer of the Week

(AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Paul Ryan uses his trusty charts and graphs to make his case for the GOP's long-awaited plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. 


If it wasn’t clear before, it is now: there is perhaps nothing that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan wouldn’t do to secure massive tax cuts for the rich. That includes repealing a health care law that’s secured coverage for tens of millions of previously uninsured Americans.

Last week, Ryan unveiled his long-awaited replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act—the plainly named American Health Care Act. But it’s a bit of a stretch to describe it as health-care legislation. As has been widely reported now, the CBO estimates that the AHCA will cause 24 million people to lose coverage over the next decade—14 million of them in the next year alone.

In reality, the AHCA is an upward redistribution scheme that takes from the poor and gives to the rich. Repealing Obamacare will generate some $883 billion in tax cuts over the next decade that disproportionately go to the wealthiest taxpayers in the country.  

As the Tax Policy Center has previously estimated, 40 percent of the AHCA tax cuts would go to the top one percent. The top 0.1 percent would receive an average tax break of $197,000, which comes out to an after-tax income boost of 2.6 percent. Meanwhile, the country’s wealthiest 400 people—who make an average of $300 million a year—will see tax savings of $7 million a year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

How do Republicans plan to cover that disappearing revenue? By cutting Medicaid to the tune of $880 billion and reducing health care premium subsidies by an additional $680 million.

As Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center explains, the CBO finds that subsidy cuts will sting across the board:

The AHCA would adjust subsidies by age (younger people would get $2,000, older buyers [would] get $4,000) with a phase out for those making more than $75,000 ($150,000 for couples). However, the plan would also allow insurance companies to raise premiums substantially for those in their 50s and 60s. The current law ACA provides greater assistance to those with less income, and phases out its assistance at about $47,000 for singles and $64,000 for childless couples. It caps insurance premiums for older buyers at no more than three times premiums for younger consumers. By contrast, AHCA would allow insurers to charge older buyers up to five times as much.

It’s pretty simple who the winners are here. Republicans are lavishing tax cuts on a narrow segment of wealthy Americans at the expense of poor Americans who rely on Medicaid and millions more that rely on premium subsidies for affordable coverage. This is trickle-down economics at its worst—risking the health of tens of millions of people in order to do away with some pesky taxes on the rich.

For his commitment to tax cuts for the rich—above all else—Paul Ryan is (once again) our Trickle Downer of the Week. 

Tax Cuts for the rich. Deregulation for the powerful. Wage suppression for everyone else. These are the tenets of trickle-down economics, the conservatives’ age-old strategy for advantaging the interests of the rich and powerful over those of the middle class and poor. The articles in Trickle-Downers are devoted, first, to exposing and refuting these lies, but equally, to reminding Americans that these claims aren’t made because they are true. Rather, they are made because they are the most effective way elites have found to bully, confuse and intimidate middle- and working-class voters. Trickle-down claims are not real economics. They are negotiating strategies. Here at the Prospect, we hope to help you win that negotiation.