Starving The Beast

The large tax cuts promoted by the right-wing are intentionally designed to force government to cut back severely on social spending.

For decades, a key goal of anti-government agenda conservatives has been to substantially cut spending on social and regulatory programs. But they have faced a difficult and tricky obstacle. Most Americans actually like these programs. As seen earlier, most of us would like to increase – not cut – spending on social programs like health care and education. And we greatly appreciate the job being done by regulatory agencies that protect the environment, consumers, and workers. So how can these valued programs be cut without invoking the wrath of the public?

The answer the Republicans found is to attack these programs indirectly. The weapon of choice? Tax cuts. The idea is simple: if we keep cutting taxes, eventually there won’t be enough money to spend on these programs and they will have to be reduced. If there simply is not enough money in the budget, even liberal supporters of these programs will have to reluctantly concede that cuts are necessary. Conservatives call this tactic “starving the beast.” Taxes are what nourish government. Take that source of nourishment away and government must inevitably shrink. For anti-tax advocates like Grover Norquist, this is the ultimate purpose of tax cuts: “The goal is reducing the size and scope of government by draining its lifeblood.”1

Milton Friedman, the arch-conservative economist, speaking of ways to limit or reduce the size of government, offered this prescription: “How can we ever cut government down to size? I believe there is only one way: the way parents control spendthrift children, cutting their allowance. For the government, that means cutting taxes. Resulting deficits will be an effective – I would go as far as to say, the only effective – restraint on the spending propensities of the executive branch and the legislature.”2

So underneath all the Republican rhetoric about cutting taxes – all the talk about stimulating the economy and giving money back to hardworking Americans, there is another, deeper and more disturbing political goal: to strangle government social and regulatory programs. But this is rarely acknowledged publicly. Conservatives focus the public’s attention on what they will gain from the tax cuts, not what they will lose by reducing social programs.

This strategy was first tried in the Reagan administration. He came into office in 1980 promising to balance the federal budget. But he quickly cut taxes and raised military spending, creating huge budget deficits. (Sound familiar?) This made little sense to many people at the time and was not understood until Reagan’s budget advisor, David Stockman, later revealed that this was a conscious effort to “starve the beast” – a phrase he is reputed to have coined.3 The idea was to put increasing financial pressure on the government’s budget in order to make it easier to cut spending on programs. And indeed, it had some effect, with domestic discretionary spending falling from 4.5% of the economy in 1981 to 3.3% in 1988.4

A series of massive tax cuts during the George W. Bush administration revived this strategy and implemented it in a much more extensive way. These tax cuts cost the federal government over two trillion dollars ($2,000,000,000,000) in lost revenue from 2001 to 2010 alone.5 As economist Paul Krugman observed at the time, “‘starving the beast’ is no longer a hypothetical scenario. It’s happening as we speak. For decades, conservatives have sought tax cuts, not because they’re affordable, but because they aren’t.”6

The Deficit Trap

There is an obvious problem with this starving the beast strategy. On the federal level, cutting taxes does not necessarily require spending cuts: the government may simply borrow money and increase its debt to continue spending. And this is exactly what happened during the Bush administration. Along with his tax cuts, Bush also oversaw some large increases in government spending – mostly in the area of defense. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost an estimated 900 billion dollars between 2001 and 2009. This combination of increased spending and huge tax cuts caused budget deficits to soar. This led some conservatives to complain that Bush had abandoned the idea of limited government. David Brooks concluded in one of his New York Times columns that all this spending and the growing deficits heralded “the death of small government conservatism.”7

But these accusations were misplaced. They ignored one key fact: growing deficits were entirely consistent with the long-term plan to reduce government. The hope was that soaring deficits and a rapidly growing national debt would eventually force policymakers to reduce government spending – whether they liked it or not. From its very first days, the Bush administration embraced deficits as a good way to reign in government. In August of 2001, as the federal budget surpluses began to disappear and new deficits began to loom, the president had an unusual fit of candor and described these developments as "incredibly positive news," arguing that this would now put Congress in a "fiscal straitjacket."8 The Republicans in Congress also came around to this point of view. As conservative Rick Santorum explained it, he first hated deficits, but then came to like them because they made it harder to pass any new spending bills. “I came to the House as a real deficit hawk but I am no longer a deficit hawk. I’ll tell you why. …Deficits make it easier to say no.”9

More importantly, the Republicans knew that if the deficits and public debt continued to grow, eventually there would be no choice but to initiate deep cuts in mandatory spending programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. As Paul Krugman explained in 2003, if the Bush tax cuts continued and no effort was made to increase revenues, the crunch would eventually come. "We're not talking about minor policy adjustments,” said Krugman. “If taxes stay as low as they are now, government as we know it cannot be maintained."10 He predicted that we could end up with large cuts to many central government programs: "Social Security will have to become far less generous; Medicare will no longer be able to guarantee comprehensive medical care to older Americans; Medicaid will no longer provide basic medical care to the poor."11 In fact, eight years later, the Republicans were to propose radical cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

The election of Obama in 2008 was the signal for conservatives to spring the deficit trap. They immediately turned from being deficit lovers into being deficit haters. All of a sudden they claimed that deficits were the number one problem facing government and that we needed to begin drastically cutting domestic spending. Matters were made worse when the severe recession started in 2008. It necessitated large bailouts to key financial institutions and billions in stimulus funds to prevent the economy from sinking into a depression. The recession also dramatically lowered federal tax revenues and made the deficits even worse. All of this played right into the hands of conservatives, who blamed these increased deficits on “out of control government spending.” The only question that remained was how far the Republicans would go in their proposals to dramatically reduce government. It turned out they wanted to go farther than most Americans would have imagined.



The Goal: Massive Cuts in Federal Programs

In the spring of 2011, Rep. Paul Ryan introduced the Republican budget proposal and it was passed the House of Representatives with enthusiastic GOP support. It proposed unprecedented and drastic cuts to a wide variety of government programs – reducing spending by $4.5 trillion (that’s $4,500,000,000,000) over the next decade. In essence, this proposal amounted to nothing less than fundamental effort to dismantle the basic programs of the social welfare state that were established in the New Deal of the 1930s and the Great Society of the 1960s. For example, the Republicans wanted to end Medicare and Medicaid as we know them. The successful Medicare program would be phased out and instead the elderly would be issued limited vouchers to help them buy increasingly expensive private health insurance. As the years went by, the vouchers would have paid for less and less of the cost of medical care. It has been estimated that by 2030, the vouchers would have covered only a third of the cost of health care currently provided by Medicare.12 So once again, seniors would have to make tragic decisions about whether to spend money on health care, rent or food.

The plan also called for Medicaid spending to be capped and handed off to state governments, whose chronic budget problems would encourage them to cut spending on this program. It is estimated that Medicaid spending would be cut in half by 2030, thus ripping a huge hole in the medical safety net for poor Americans who are least able to deal with the large and rising costs of medical care.13

These attacks on Medicare and Medicaid were just the tip of the iceberg. The Ryan budget plan also required massive cuts to virtually all social and regulatory programs. Take, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency. The Republicans wanted to reduce funding for the EPA by a third – $3 billion – in 2012 alone. This would have crippled the ability of this agency to enforce pollution regulations. Polluters would have been able to flout regulations needed to protect the quality of our air and water. The agency would also have been unable to fund needed projects like replacing broken and ineffective water treatment facilities. Illnesses and deaths caused by pollution would have inevitably risen. In a similar vein, the Republican plan also called for tens of billions of cuts to other regulatory agencies whose job it is to protect workers, consumers, and investors.

The Republican budget plan also mandated severe reductions in public investment efforts in the United States – cutting them by $1.4 trillion in the next ten years. A report by the Center for American Progress found that the plan would have cut money for education and job training by 53%, transportation infrastructure by 37%, and science and technology research and development by 28%.14 These kinds of public investments are important for economic growth. They create a more talented workforce, spur technological advances, cut costs for businesses, and increase productivity. If we want a healthy economy we need to be investing hundreds of billions of dollars into improving education, replacing and improving our infrastructure system, encouraging clean energy technologies, etc. The Republican plan would have sharply reduced these crucial investments at a time when we needed to be increasing them.

A look at some numbers reveals just how extreme this proposal to shrink government really was. A study of the Republican budget plan by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that it would have reduced government spending to 20% of gross domestic product by 2015 and to 14.75% of GDP by 2050 – a level not seen since 1951, before the existence of Medicare and Medicaid.15 The CBO pointed out that the amount allocated for spending in 2050 would only be enough to fund Social Security, health care programs, and defense spending – and nothing else. Virtually all other federal programs would have to disappear! Could it be that the Republicans had simply failed to accurately forecast the dire long range consequences of their radical budget cutting plan? Hardly. Consider this: along with the Ryan budget, the Republicans introduced a Constitutional amendment to balance the budget that was just as radical. As a New York Times editorial described it:

The amendment would hold annual spending to 18 percent of the previous year’s gross domestic product, a formula that works out to about 16.7 percent in the proposals early years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. This is a level last seen in 1956 – a time before Medicare, before the interstate highways, when many baby boomers were not yet born, never mind aging into retirement.16

“This is not a budget,” said Rep. Ryan when he introduced his plan, “This is a cause.”  No truer words were ever spoken. His plan made clear the radical ideological cause lurking under the GOP budget proposals: to defund and dismantle large parts of our basic social safety net programs and public regulatory protections. For many in the anti-government movement, this is the eventual goal of their crusade, and they see the political struggles over budgets and deficits as the ultimate battleground in this war on government.

Reducing Government as a Form of Class Warfare

This starving the beast plan to radically reduce government is also extremely unfair and regressive. It is designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. For example, a report by the Center for Budget and Policy priorities found that the Ryan budget cuts targeted those Americans would could least afford them. Two-thirds of the $4.5 trillion in cuts over the next ten years would have come from programs aimed at helping people of limited means: Medicaid, food stamps, low income housing, Pell grants for poor students, etc.17 Food stamps alone would have been reduced by $128 billion, inevitably increasing hunger and malnutrition among the poor.

Even worse, the Republican plan would have handed out trillions of dollars to the richest Americans. One trillion in tax breaks would have gone to the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Tax rates for the rich would have been reduced to their lowest rates since the 1930s. Taxes for corporations would have been greatly reduced as well. In short, the Republican budget was a plan to transfers trillions in wealth from the poorest of Americans to the richest. As budget expert Robert Greenstein described it:

[Ryan’s budget plan] proposes a dramatic reverse-Robin-Hood approach that gets the lion’s share of its budget cuts from programs for low-income Americans – the politically and economically weakest group in America and the politically safest group for Ryan to target – even as it bestows extremely large tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans. Taken together, its proposals would produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history, while increasing poverty and inequality more than any measure in recent times and possibly in the nation’s history.18

In essence, the Ryan plan was a form of class warfare – a blatant and unconscionable attack on the interests of the less well-off in our society. And the tax cut portion of the Republican budget plan also made it clear that they cared more about helping wealthy Americans than about deficit reduction. A CBO analysis revealed that because of these tax giveaways to the rich, this plan would have actually increased the deficits and debt over the next ten years.19

As another article, “The Deficit Scare: Myth vs. Reality,” will make clear, our deficit and debt situation is not nearly as dire as Republicans would have us believe. And there are ways to address these financial issues without putting our social safety net programs in jeopardy. But unfortunately, many policymakers, including some Democrats, have fallen for these deficit scare tactics and have been insisting on severely reining in domestic spending.

Part of any responsible approach to the deficit and debt problem must involve abolishing the Bush tax cuts and actually raising taxes to pay for needed programs. Most other countries have acknowledged that tax increases must play a role in deficit reduction. Germany’s current deficit reduction plan, for instance, includes 60% spending cuts and 40% tax increases. But the Republicans are committed to blocking any and all tax increases and many Democrats do not seem to have the stomach to insist on raising revenues.

Fortunately, the Ryan budget proposal did not pass. But in the summer of 2011, the situation took a turn for the worse. The House Republicans insisted that massive budget cuts must be made or they would refuse to raise the federal debt limit and create financial chaos in an already weakened economy. The Democrats gave into this irresponsible threat and agreed to $2.5 trillion in budget reductions over the next ten years, $1.5 trillion of which would be decided by a joint House and Senate committee. Under discussion were large cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Other likely targets included environmental protection, student aid programs, education programs, scientific research, and infrastructure investment. And this may just be the beginning. Republicans said that they would again take the country hostage and insist on even more budget cuts every time the debt limit must be raised. If this ruthless tactic works, the Republicans may actually succeed in their goal of crippling regulatory agencies and shredding our social safety net.


Starving the States

If you want to get a sense of what we have in store for us as a nation if the Republican’s starving the beast strategy works, you need only look at what is happening in some states. Many state governments today are already suffering from the results of this conservative strategy. In large part, this is due to an enormous advantage that anti-government activists have on this level of government: virtually all states are legally required to balance their annual budgets. So when revenues fall or expenses increase, these governments cannot borrow to make up the difference; they must either cut programs or raise taxes. Conservatives have often been successful in blocking tax increases, which has meant that states have had no choice but to reduce spending on social programs.

During the recession that began in 2008, most states cut their social spending – often in disturbing ways. Many of these cuts fell on these states’ most vulnerable residents. Several states cut reimbursements to nursing homes or made it more difficult for the elderly to qualify for nursing home care. Twenty-one states implemented cuts that restricted low-income children’s access to health insurance. Services for the elderly and disabled were cut in 22 states. Educational spending also took big hits, with state aid for K-12 education reduced in 24 states. Funds were also cut for higher education in 32 states, forcing some to raise tuition by more than 10%.20

Clearly, the decline in state revenues caused by the recession played a large role in these budget cuts. But that is not all that was going on. Many states have had ongoing fiscal problems, and in many cases those problems have been caused or exacerbated by conservative forces who have undermined the abilities of states and local governments to raise needed taxes. For example, the foundation for many states’ fiscal problems was laid in the 1990s when state-level anti-government groups waged successful campaigns to reduce taxes. Between 1994 and 2001, under political pressure from conservatives, 44 states passed significant tax cuts. The effects of these cuts were masked at first by the stock market boom that increased the states’ returns on investments in the late 1990s. But now, with the stock market boom long gone, those cuts have come home to roost and are costing the states an estimated $40 billion or more a year in lost revenue – a significant cause of the long-term fiscal difficulties in many states.21

Conservatives have also been successful in several states in installing caps on certain tax rates. In Massachusetts, for example, local property taxes cannot be increased by more than 3.5% a year. In many years, city expenses have risen faster than that rate and tax revenues have not kept up. This has forced many cities to repeatedly cut public school budgets – firing teachers, reducing course offerings, eliminating sports, and increasing class sizes. Cities have also been forced to reduce fire and police staffing and limit essential public services like snow plowing and road repair.

Fourteen states also now require supermajorities for the raising of some taxes – and this has become particularly problematic. Supermajorities require that 60%, 67%, or even 75% of the legislators must agree before taxes can be raised – rather than the simple majority of 50% plus one that applies to other kinds of legislation. This allows an anti-tax minority to block majority rule. In some states, for instance, a majority of citizens in local school districts has often voted to raise taxes to help fund education – but they have been frustrated because they couldn’t marshal the needed two-thirds majority. Statutory requirements like supermajorities and tax caps are the some of the best political weapons used by anti-government forces because they make it all but impossible to raise taxes and this forces state and local governments to cut spending on programs.

Making matters even worse, conservatives are now pushing efforts to establish constitutional caps on state government expenditures – plans that would limit spending growth to the rate of inflation plus population growth. The first state to adopt this approach, Colorado in 1992, saw its public services deteriorate significantly. For example, it dropped from 35th to 49th in K-12 spending as a share of personal income, and from 35th to 48th in higher education funding a as share of personal income.22 In 2005, citizens in Colorado voted to suspend this amendment for five years so that they can restore needed funding to vital services. The disastrous results in Colorado have not stopped anti-government activists from launching campaigns to pass similar amendments in 15 other states.

The Case of California

The severe and ongoing budget problems in California are a good example of the kind of damage that anti-government activists can do on the state level. During the recent recession, the state ran into billions of dollars of deficits and was forced to make draconian cuts in state programs and services. The main problem was not excessive spending but excessive restrictions on the taxing ability of the state, which made it all but impossible for it to raise taxes to deal responsibly with its fiscal crisis.

The problems for California began decades ago when obstacles to tax increases were introduced into the state constitution by an anti-tax campaign. Proposition 13 was passed in 1978 and capped property taxes at ridiculously low levels. Cities and counties were then forced to try to raise other assessments and fees in order to continue to supply basic public services. But anti-tax zealots were then able to pass Proposition 218, which prevented cities from raising those fees without the approval of two-thirds of the voters – usually an impossible barrier to overcome.

This left localities no choice but to go begging to the state government for needed revenues. But Proposition 13 actually worked to restrict this source of funds as well. It mandated that the state could not increase taxes without the approval of two-thirds of both houses of the legislature. This anti-democratic arrangement has allowed a minority of tax-hating lawmakers to frustrate the majority and consistently block any efforts to raise needed revenues.

Faced with these anti-tax restrictions, the state had no choice but to institute a series of very damaging cuts in state services. Severe cuts were made in aid to K-12 school systems. California’s public schools already ranked 34th among the states in per-pupil expenditures and 49th in teacher-student ratio – a disgraceful situation that could only be worsened by new budget cuts. Millions of children have been denied medical coverage. Large cuts have also been made in many other essential programs, including mental health services, mass transit, home health care, food stamps, prisons, and aid to the blind and disabled. State colleges and universities have become more expensive and less accessible.

The Effects of Starvation on Education and Infrastructure

Sometimes the effects of starving the beast are serious, but not immediately obvious. Some vital public sector programs have been reduced so gradually that the effects may not be clear to many in the public. Two examples of this are the effects of funding cuts on higher education and infrastructure development.

In recent years, spending for state higher education institutions has taken a hard hit. States have been cutting budgets for public colleges and universities – which produce three quarters of all degrees in the United States. Teaching positions are being cut, class sizes are spiraling, and needed maintenance is being neglected. Some colleges are now unable to provide students with the required courses they need to finish their degrees. In addition, states have been raising their tuitions and cutting financial aid. A study by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education gave the public college and university systems in 43 states a grade of “F” for affordability.23  This means that many low and middle-income students simply cannot afford college anymore – in one year alone a half million were turned away for lack of money.24

Crucial infrastructure spending is also being neglected. A study by the American Society of Civil Engineers found that America’s infrastructure is in terrible shape and blamed low levels of investment by state and federal governments. They estimated that over the next five years it would take at least $2.2 trillion to bring our national infrastructure into an acceptable state.25 Some excerpts from the report:

  • Roads and transit systems are in peril. Thirty-three percent of our roads are in poor or mediocre conditions. Funding at the federal, state and local levels is in danger of drying up and citizens are failing to invest in their communities' futures. The nation is failing to even maintain the substandard conditions we currently have, a dangerous trend that is affecting highway safety, as well as the health of the economy.
  • 27.5% of the nation's bridges (162,000) were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
  • The nation's 16,000 waste water systems face enormous needs. Some sewer systems are 100 years old and many treatment facilities are past their recommended life expectancy. Currently, there is a $12 billion annual shortfall in funding for these infrastructure needs.
  • Due to either aging, outdated facilities, severe overcrowding, or new mandated class sizes, 75% of our nation's school buildings remain inadequate to meet the needs of schoolchildren. While school construction spending has increased, the cost to remedy the situation remains more than $127 billion.

A recent report by CNN found that in 2001the United States was ranked 6th in infrastructure in the world by the World Economic Forum. Ten years later we were ranked 23rd and falling. Clearly this failure to invest in our infrastructure is a very serious problem – one that can only be addressed with higher taxes and more spending on the state and federal level. But as was noted earlier, the Republican budget plan for the next decade actually calls for hundreds of billions in cuts for highways, bridges, mass transit and other infrastructure developments.



Conservative Responses to the Fiscal Crisis in the States

Seeing the wide spread negative effects – and human costs – of all of these cuts in services, programs, and investments on the state level, you might expect that conservatives would have second thoughts about their anti-tax and anti-spending policies. But amazingly, these kinds of problems have actually been welcomed by anti-government activists. Reports indicate that the Bush White House was happy to see states and their citizens caught in a fiscal crunch and forced to cut programs, and had no desire to help bail them out. Numerous administration officials stated privately that the states’ fiscal problems would play a useful role in shrinking state governments.26 And anti-tax activist Grover Norquist has seemed almost gleeful about the fiscal troubles being faced by states, remarking that “I hope a state goes bankrupt.”27

Another typical conservative response to the fiscal problems of the states has been to search for scapegoats – someone they can blame for these problems and thus distract the public from the role played by their anti-tax policies. Their preferred scapegoat is public employees. There has been a coordinated campaign to portray public employees as a well-to-do class who are grossly overpaid and enjoy sumptuous benefit packages. Never mind that study after study has shown that public employees are actually underpaid compared to their counterparts in the private sector.28 Many of them do have decent pensions, but these were often won by giving up pay raises. In addition, many public employees are not eligible for Social Security, so their pensions are not as generous as they first appear.

This assault on our public employees has been widespread and surprisingly nasty. Some conservative commentators have called on them to give back part of the pensions they are living on. Republican legislators in Wisconsin passed a bill that stripped nearly all the collective bargaining rights from the state’s public workers. Ohio passed an even harsher law that allows state and city officials to impose whatever contract terms they want on public employees. Similar bills are being considered in other states where conservatives hold power.

Some anti-government ideologues have actually argued that because workers in the private sector are having a tough time – high unemployment, low wages, and shrinking benefits – that public sector workers should be made to suffer as well. Conservatives are trying to provoke resentment against these workers, calling them “haves” when many Americans have become “have nots.” But we should be proud that we treat our public employees decently. Undermining the economic security of public workers and making it harder for them to live a middle-class life will only create more suffering in society, not less.

There is an Alternative

It doesn’t have to be this way in state governments. In fact, it hasn’t always been this way. In the days before the anti-tax movement took hold in the U.S., many states had a vibrant public sector with healthy investments in infrastructure projects and adequately funded social programs for state residents. In his book, Paradise Lost, Peter Schrag offers the following descriptions of pre- and post-Proposition 13 California:

California was once widely regarded has both model and magnet for the nation – in its economic opportunities, its social outlook, and its high-quality public services and institutions. With a nearly free and universally accessible system of public higher education, a well-supported public school system, an ambitious agenda of public works projects – in irrigation and flood control, in highway construction and park development – and a wide array of social services and human rights guarantees that had no parallel in any other state, California seems to have an optimism about its population, possibilities, and future....

But California ... is no longer the progressive model in its public institutions and services, or in its social ethic, that it once was. California's schools, which 30 years ago had been among the most generously funded in the nation, are now in the bottom quarter among the states in virtually every major indicator – in physical condition, in public funding, in test scores – closer in most of them to Mississippi than to New York or Connecticut or New Jersey. The state, which had almost doubled in population since the early 1960s, has built some 20 new prisons in the past two decades, but has not opened one new campus of the University of California for nearly three decades. Its once celebrated freeway system is now rated as among the most dilapidated road networks in the country. Many of its public libraries operate on reduced hours, and some have closed altogether. The state's social benefits, once among the nation's most generous, have been cut and cut again, and then cut again. And what had once been a tuition-free college and university system, while still among the world's great public educational institutions, struggles for funds and charges as much as every other state university system, and in some cases more.29

Schrag laments what he has termed the “Mississippification” of California. He has nothing against Mississippi, but is simply referring to the reputation that state has for stingy social programs, abysmal schools, inadequate health care programs, and a poor quality of life. This is what could be in store for all of us if government is reduced to an emaciated state. If the anti-government and anti-tax crusaders have their way, we will all be living in Mississippi, whether we want to or not.



For more on how anti-government activists have been using budget issues to attack vital government programs, see "The Deficit Scare: Myth vs. Reality."




1. Paul Krugman, “The Tax Cut Con,” New York Times Magazine, September 14, 2003, p. 57.

2. The Cato Institute, Cato Handbook on Policy (Washington D.C.: The Cato Institute, 2005) p. 113.

3. See William Greider, “The Education of David Stockman,” Atlantic Monthly, December 1981.

4. Krugman, “The Tax Cut Con.”

5. Urban Institute, “Bush Tax Cuts,” January 16, 2008.

6. Paul Krugman, “Maestro of Chutzpah,” New York Times, March 2, 2004, Page A23.

7. David Brooks, “Reinventing the GOP” The New York Times, August 29, 2004.

8. Paul Krugman, “The Tax Cut Con,” New York Times Magazine, September 14, 2003, p. 57.

9. Ed Kilgore, “Starving the Beast,” Blueprint Magazine, June 30, 2003.

10. Paul Krugman, “The Tax Cut Con,” New York Times Magazine, September 14, 2003, p. 56.

11. Ibid. p. 56.

12. Dean Baker, “Representative Ryan Proposes Medicare Plan Under Which Seniors Would Pay Most of Their Income for Health Care,” Center for Economic and Policy Research, April 6, 2011,

13.January Angeles, “Ryan Medicaid Block Grant Would Cause Severe Reductions in Health Care and Long Term Care for Senior, People with Disabilities, and Children,” Center for Budget Priorities, May 3, 2011,

14. Center for American Progress, “Divesting in America.”

15. Robert Greenstein, “CBO Report: Ryan Plan Specifies Spending Path that would Nearly End Most of Government other than Social Security, Health Care, and Defense by 2050,” Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, April 7, 2011,

16. “Dangerous Games,” The New York Times, Saturday, April 23, 2011, p. A16.

17. Robert Greenstein, Chairman Ryan Get’s Nearly Two-Thirds of His Huge Budgets Cuts from Program for Lower Income Americans,”  Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, April 20, 2011,

18. Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “Statement of Robert Greenstein on Chairman Ryan’s Budget Plan.”

19. Brian Beutler, “CBO:  GOP Budget would Increase Debt, Then Stick It To Medicare Patients,” TPM, April 5, 2011,

20. Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “At Least 39 States Have Imposed Cuts that Hurt Vulnerable Residents,” June 29, 2009.

21. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “A Brief Update,” p.1.

22. Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “TABOR: A Threat to Education, Health Care, and Social Services. May 20, 2006.

23. National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, “Measuring Up 2006: The National Report Card on Higher Education.

24. “The College Aid Crisis,” New York Times, May 25, 2004, p. A26.

25. American Society of Civil Engineers, "Report Card for America's Infrastructure: 2009 Progress Report,"

26. David Firestone, “Does Pain Makes States Stronger?” New York Times, April 27, 2003, p. 4.

27. Ibid.

28. Center for Economic and Policy Research, “State and Local Workers Earn Less than Private Sector Workers, Even Factoring in Benefits,” September 15, 2010,

29. Schrag, p. 7-8.