Friday, August 06, 2010

Paul Ryan: the man with a lousy plan

My litmus test for whether a Republican is truly fiscally conservative or just a poseur is his or her vote on the 2003 Medicare Part D prescription drug plan; a bill that was so clearly a blatant transfer of public wealth to private drug companies that no true conservative would have gone along with it.Paul Ryan did.

Ryan also has voted for every war supplemental put before him with full knowledge that each dollar spent was borrowed for our precious grandchildren to pay back.

Now Ryan has re-invented himself as the wunderkind with a brave new plan to save us from the perils of deficits and rescue our grandchildren from the welfare state. If only it were true. Paul Krugman reviews the arithmetic:

Mr. Ryan’s plan calls for steep cuts in both spending and taxes...
And The [Washington] Post also tells us that his plan would, indeed, sharply reduce
the flow of red ink: “The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan would cut the budget deficit in half by 2020.”

But the budget office has done no such thing. At Mr. Ryan’s request, it produced an estimate of the budget effects of his proposed spending cuts — period. It didn’t address the revenue losses from his tax cuts.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has, however, stepped into the breach. Its numbers indicate that the Ryan plan would reduce revenue by almost $4 trillion over the next decade. If you add these revenue losses to the numbers The Post cites, you get a much larger deficit in 2020, roughly $1.3 trillion.

And that’s about the same as the budget office’s estimate of the 2020 deficit under the Obama administration’s plans....

Finally, let’s talk about those spending cuts. In its first decade, most of the alleged savings in the Ryan plan come from assuming zero dollar growth in domestic discretionary spending, which includes everything from energy policy to education to the court system. This would amount to a 25 percent cut once you adjust for inflation and population growth. How would such a severe cut be achieved? What specific programs would be slashed? Mr. Ryan doesn’t say.

Republicans never say what they will cut. As Krugman concludes, they are not serious about debating budget issues yet the media feels obliged for some reason to give them deference.

No comments: