Paul Ryan's Budget: The Return of Captain 'Courageous'

Paul Ryan must subscribe to the theory that the third time around is the charm. His first budget didn’t “balance” till 2040; his second didn’t “balance” till 2030. Now his third budget supposedly balances in 10 years.  I’ve even heard that he has a plan to cure the common cold in five years. Frankly, from what I’ve seen of Ryan’s math, my money is on the cold remedy.

That’s because Ryan has really outdone himself this time. To make his budget “work” he relies on two assumptions that are non-starters for anyone dealing in reality: the repeal of Obamacare and the gutting of entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Regarding Medicare, Ryan adds insult to injury by claiming he will save $716 billion from the program. This was the same $716 billion, mind you, that Ryan accused Obama of “stealing” from the fund during the 2012 campaign.

In all, Ryan’s budget proposes to slash $4.6 trillion in spending over the next decade. If you thought the sequester was draconian, try a budget that promises to cut $460 billion per year in discretionary spending, virtually all of it from the domestic side, while giving away trillions in revenue to millionaires and billionaires. In short, Ryan has cobbled together ostensibly the same supply side nonsense that was thoroughly rejected by last year’s voters, only in compact form. And just like the last two budget attempts, Ryan won’t say how this one will balance either, only that it will. Trust him, he says.

There’s delusional and then there’s insane. How insane? Ryan’s “responsible, reasonable and balanced” plan was actually decried by Fox News’ Chris Wallace and the entire cast of “Fox and Friends.” How far off the deep end do you have to be to get called to task by that outfit? Paul Krugman went so far as to call Ryan’s recent plan “even crueler” than his earlier ones, which I guess is tantamount to calling a hurricane worse than a cold front.

Now that the Boy Plunder has decided to once more take a stroll down bad memory lane, the real question is how do Congressional Democrats and the Administration respond? Clearly, Obama’s recent wine and dine tour with the GOP had zero effect. Though the effort was laudable in that it allowed the President to portray himself as willing to compromise, it’s time for Plan C.

I agree with Michael Tomasky. It’s high time for Obama to “draw his line in the sand and tell the deficit-hawk establishment who’s in charge.” The simple truth is that since peaking at $1.4 trillion in 2009, the deficit has been steadily shrinking. The real problem plaguing the economy is the lack of demand, NOT the deficit. The Republican plan will not only fail to produce the demand needed for job growth, it will actually lead to a double-dip recession, which will increase both the deficit and unemployment.

Most economists – those not currently living in the land of Oz – agree that the recovery is still too fragile to cut spending. As the economy continues to improve, cuts can be phased in, but not at this juncture. Obama must make this abundantly clear to the American public. He has been more than reasonable. Now it’s time for him to remind House Republicans that elections do have consequences. As Tomasky adroitly observed in his piece, “Obama can’t spend the last three years of his presidency playing on Paul Ryan’s home field.”

To which I would add, the nation can’t afford it either.



Author: Peter Fegan

Progressive but pragmatic. Lover of music, die-hard Giants' fan and reluctant Mets' fan. My favorite motto? I'd rather be ruled by a smart Turk than a dumb Christian.

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