The Ryan Budget: A Roundup

Lot’s of good stuff out there on the Ryan budget plan.  Here’s some recommended reading (links first, quotations after the jump):

A Good Choice, Put Please Not A Serious One and The Brave and Serious Mr. Ryan — James Fallows

Ludicrous and Cruel — Paul Krugman

What’s Right and Wrong in the Ryan Plan — David Frum

Romney Doubles Down on Economic Radicalism — Greg Sargent

Paul Ryan’s Budget to Nowhere — Matt Miller

Mitt Romney will name Paul Ryan as his VP. Here’s what that means. — Ezra Klein

Statement on Chairman Ryan’s Budget Plan — Ron Greenstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

RUNDOWN

Fallows hopes the media will lay off the Ryan worship:

One request: I hope that when reporters are writing or talking about Paul Ryan’s budget plans and his overall approach, they will rig up some electro-shock device to zap themselves each time they say that Ryan and his thoughts are unusually “serious” or “brave.” Clear-edged they are, and useful in defining the issues in the campaign. But they have no edge in “seriousness” over, say, proposals from Ryan’s VP counterpart Joe Biden.

Some reasons why the Ryan plan is less than heroic:

1) A plan to deal with budget problems that says virtually nothing about military spending

2) A plan that proposes to eliminate tax loopholes and deductions, but doesn’t say what any of those are…

4) A plan to reconcile revenue and spending, which rules out axiomatically any conceivable increase in tax rates

5) A plan to reduce the federal deficit by granting big tax reductions to the highest-income Americans, at a time when their tax rates are very low by historic standards and and their share of the national income is extremely high, and when middle-class job creation is our main economic challenge…

6) A plan that identifies rising health-care costs as the main problem in public spending, but avoids altogether the question of how to contain those costs

 …

…is neither brave nor serious.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities provides some perspective. The Ryan budget,

for most of the past half-century, would have been outside the bounds of mainstream discussion due to its extreme nature… It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history).

Sargent summarizes what the Romney-Ryan ticket is all about:

The central idea driving the GOP ticket is not just that tax hikes on the rich must be avoided at all costs. It’s that dramatically reducing the tax burden on the wealthy — coupled with deep cuts to social programs and a quasi-voucherizing of Medicare — is the route back to prosperity.

Frum’s not a fan of the Ryan pick.  A characteristically perceptive assessment of why the Ryan budget is bad public policy:

Above all: Paul Ryan is wrong, wrong, wrong to imagine that a society can deal with rising social-insurance costs while entirely exempting Republican-voting age cohorts and without asking for anything from its richest people—in fact while simultaneously delivering those people a huge tax cut.

Miller makes the key distinction between being committed to deficit reduction vs. government reduction:

The crucial thing to understand about Ryan is that he is not a fiscal conservative. He’s a small-government conservative. These are very different things….He doesn’t even pretend to balance the budget until 2040, and then only under utterly dubious assumptions.

Ezra Klein documents just how drastic Ryan’s cuts to non-health spending really are

Ryan has told the [CBO] that his budget will bring all federal spending outside Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to 3.75% of GDP by 2050. That means defense, infrastructure, education, food safety, basic research, and food stamps — to name just a few — will be less than 4% of GDP in 2050. To get a sense for how unrealistic that is, Congress has never permitted defense spending to fall below 3% of GDP, and Romney has pledged that he’ll never let defense spending fall beneath 4% of GDP. It will be interesting to hear him explain away the difference.

If the Ryan plan cuts spending so much, though, how does it not balance the budget?  High-end tax cuts, of course!  The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities surveys the fiscal wreckage:

Yet alongside these extraordinary budget cuts, with their dismantling of key parts of the safety net, the budget features stunning new tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. … In fact, … the four major new tax cuts in the Ryan plan…would cost $4.6 trillion in lost federal revenue over the next ten years…  All four revenue-losing measures would disproportionately benefit wealthy Americans.

Moreover, this $4.6 trillion revenue loss would come on top of about another $5 trillion revenue loss over the coming decade, [Tax Policy Center] reported, from Chairman Ryan’s proposal to make permanent all of the Bush tax cuts along with other tax cuts that are scheduled to expire, such as an estate-tax giveaway from late 2010 that benefits the estates of only the wealthiest one-quarter of one percent of people who die.

But other than that, it’s a great plan.  All hail Paul Ryan, fiscal Messiah!

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About Hammertime
Georgetown sophomore, Job Creator.

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