For those who care about investments in domestic priorities like education and health care, Paul Ryan’s House Republican budget plan is a bit of a disaster, slashing spending in the coming decades. For those concerned about the poor, the Ryan plan is equally problematic – the budget redistributes wealth in the wrong direction, cutting Medicaid and food stamps to help finance tax cuts for the wealthy.
But at least deficit hawks and those who fear a “debt crisis” will rally behind Paul Ryan’s vision, right? Wrong. As E.J. Dionne Jr. explained today, there’s nothing fiscally responsible about this budget plan.
Rep. Paul Ryan made absolutely clear that he is not now and never was interested in deficit reduction. After a couple of years of being lauded by deficit hawks as the man prepared to make hard choices, he proposed a budget that would not end deficits until 2040 but would cut taxes by $4.6 trillion over a decade while also extending all of the Bush tax cuts, adding an additional $5.4 trillion to the deficit. Ryan would increase military expenditures and then eviscerate the rest of the federal government.
Oh yes, Ryan claims he’d make up for the losses from his new tax cuts with “tax reform” but offered not a single detail. A “plan” with a hole this big is not a plan at all.
With this in mind, it was simply fascinating to see Ryan, the right-wing chairman of the House Budget Committee, on CBS’s “Face the Nation” yesterday. He argued, with a straight face, “We’re proposing to keep revenues where they are but to clear out all the special interest loopholes…. We’re saying get rid of the tax shelters, the interest-group loopholes, and lower everybody’s tax rates.”
Which tax shelters and interest-group loopholes does Ryan have in mind? “That’s not the job of the Budget Committee,” Ryan told Fox News yesterday.
Got that? Basic arithmetic tells us that Ryan’s plan would add several trillion to the debt over the next decade. The Wisconsin lawmaker disagrees, arguing that the math will work out once Congress closes a bunch of tax loopholes. Which loopholes? Ryan doesn’t even pretend to know. Worse, he doesn’t think it’s his job to figure it out.
Everyone in Washington who was convinced that Paul Ryan is a responsible, sincere budget wonk should take a moment to ponder how and why they fell for the con.