The details Paul Ryan has forgotten


House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is set to unveil his caucus’ new budget plan, and to help ensure it lands on fertile soil, the far-right Republican released a video trailer for his plan late last week.

For those who can’t watch clips online, Ryan argues that the 2008 crash caught policymakers “by surprise,” but he sees another one on the way.

“Let me ask you a question: what if your president, your senator and your congressman knew it was coming? What if they knew when it was going to happen, why it was going to happen, and more importantly, what if they knew what they needed to do to stop it from happening and they had the time to stop it? But they chose to do nothing about it, because it wasn’t good politics?

“What would you think of that person? It would be immoral. This coming debt crisis is the most predictable crisis we’ve ever had in this country. And look what’s happening. This is why we’re acting. This is why we’re leading. This is why we’re proposing – and passing out of the House – a budget to fix this problem: so we can save our country for ourselves and our children’s future.”

The political motivations for all of this are pretty obvious: Ryan’s plan is going to recommend brutal cuts to domestic programs, and he will do his best to say the slashes are necessary because of the “coming debt crisis.” For the Ayn Rand acolyte, these aren’t cuts he wants to make, but rather, they’re cuts he thinks he has to make to prevent a debt-driven disaster.

Or so the argument goes.

There are a few angles to keep in mind as the debate begins again in earnest, and they share a theme: Ryan has absolutely zero credibility on these issues, and his fear-mongering is not to be taken seriously.

First, there is no debt crisis. The United States can easily borrow as much as it needs at low interest rates, suggesting there’s nothing even close to a debt crisis. This is a fig leaf the right is using to rationalize draconian cut to domestic priorities, which they’ve long wanted to make anyway.

Second, if Paul Ryan and his allies were seriously panicked about reducing the deficit in a hurry to prevent a “crisis,” they’d consider modest tax increases on the wealthy. Indeed, we know exactly what’s driving the national debt, and much of it has to do with tax cuts the rich didn’t need and the country couldn’t afford. When Ryan acknowledges this, he’ll start to have some credibility on the issue.

And third, for all of Ryan’s alleged fear about the debt, his last budget plan ignored deficit reduction altogether, and instead prioritized more tax breaks for those at the very top.

Funny, these relevant details didn’t seem to make the cut of Ryan’s little video. What a shame.

Update: If Ryan’s video looks familiar, there’s a good reason for that.

Paul Ryan and Budget

The details Paul Ryan has forgotten