Saturday, August 11, 2012

Another Look at Paul Ryan's Budget

Since it looks like Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is going to be Romney's running mate, this is a good time to revisit Ryan's budget plan. The main points:

Despite the Republican furor over the deficit, Ryan's plan actually increases the deficit over the first decade, because it starts with big tax cuts -- the same ones Romney is proposing, pretty much. Cutting tax rates for the rich is supposed to pay for itself over time by increasing economic growth, but you all know I think that is wishful thinking. Ryan's plan also calls for raising big revenue by closing "tax loopholes," which means effectively raising taxes on millions of middle class people.

Ryan, like Romney, opposes the only real budget cuts that are actually on the table, in defense spending.

Ryan's plan is supposed to reduce spending in the long run by squeezing Medicare and savaging Medicaid. His plan calls for Medicare to be converted into a voucher program that people would use to buy private insurance, and the amount of the voucher would grow very slowly, effectively slowing the growth of the program. Even if this worked, which doubt, it wouldn't have any major budgetary effect until after 2025 -- in other words, it's just another "cut taxes now, promise to cut spending later" plan.

So Ryan's plan, far from being a "courageous" approach to reducing the deficit, actually looks just Reagan's or Bush II's plan: cut taxes for the rich, increase defense spending, and wave your hands in a way that is supposed to magically balance the budget. The most optimistic assessment I have seen of the Ryan plan, by a right-wing think tank, said it will produce surpluses in 2035.

That's courage for you.

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