Political Animal


March 20, 2012 5:44 PM Ryan Budget: A “Good Start?”

By Ed Kilgore

Since you’ll be reading a lot here and elsewhere over the next few days about the draconian impact implementing Paul Ryan’s budget proposal would have (especially if you wring out all the phony assumptions that distort it), thought I’d share a typical hard-core conservative reaction.

RedState’s Daniel Horowitz calls Ryan’s blueprint “a good start.” He then goes on to complain that it (a) doesn’t balance the budget until FY 2040; (b) maintains traditional fee-for-service Medicare as an option instead of eliminating it entirely; (c) doesn’t include Social Security privatization; (d) doesn’t cut enough (sic!) in Medicaid spending; and (e) doesn’t shut down any major federal departments or agencies like Commerce, HUD, Energy, or Education.

Other than that, Horowitz seems to like it a lot.

When you read that Tea Party types in the House and around the country are maintaining pressure on Ryan to go as far as he’s gone or further, this is the sort of perspective to keep in mind. With respect to every form of domestic governance, we’re talking Sack of Rome.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • gregor on March 20, 2012 6:28 PM:

    Or they just want give the delusion of Ryan and his budget not being to the extreme right.

  • Mitch on March 20, 2012 6:39 PM:

    Yes, the Ryan Budget is a good start. A good start at making this nation into the world's largest Third World hellhole.

    Horowitz just boggles the mind. But, hey, some people are to be stupid enough to believe that we do not need departments like the EPA or Education. Or maybe stupid is the wrong word, how about ideologically extreme? Let's let anyone dump whatever kind of crap they can into our air and water. And since there are already 20 nations ahead of us in education, there's no reason we can't aim to make it 30 or 40.

  • Doug on March 20, 2012 7:26 PM:

    I can think of nothing better than to have Rep. Ryan's fantasy deemed too "centrist" and watch as the remaining Republican Presidential candidates outdo each other by announcing which Departments they'll eliminate, how they're going to "grandfather" all current recipients of Medicare, allowing current taxpayers to CONTINUE funding it but receive any of its' benefits and how SS MUST be privatized!
    Sorry, but even the Koch Bros. don't have THAT much money...

  • Anonymous on March 20, 2012 8:00 PM:

    Doug, think that's the plan, those already getting it will be fine with it, and half the voters will be fooled, and it will be the 1% getting richer.

  • emjayay on March 20, 2012 9:01 PM:

    Cut Medicaid? I haven't read any analysis about this, but I'm sure it's been done somewhere (like the original plannning and analysis at least): With ACA kicking in, isn't Medicaid going to shrink way down to practicaly nothing after a few years?

  • tec619 on March 20, 2012 10:48 PM:


    What is particularly galling is the media's abetting conservatives through use of misleading terms. There is no such thing a privatizing social security. A social safety net can't be privatized and the sames goes for Medicare. If the government is involved through GSE-like regulation or administration, the system is a government program. Abolishment is the accurate term. And because conservatives are philosophically opposed to social safety nets and government healthcare, they should proudly use such terms instead of adopting misleading euphemisms. Why not argue for eliminating Social Security and Medicare (like they do at their think tank symposiums? Make the case that people should save on their own (personal responsibility) and purchase healthcare (if they can). A bit dystopian, but isn't that the heart of their position?

    Honest GOP proposals should read like:

    The GOP should advocate a sunset date (say 2070?) for current and future (those born in 1964 and prior) SSA beneficiaries. Once it is determined the SSA trust fund will pay a predictably fixed number of people through 2070 (a person born in 1964 would attain the age of 106 years; I should think the number of Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries will dwindle to 500 persons or less). The SSA portion of the FICA taxes will be abolished at X year. The treasury can then issue refunds (plus interest)to citizens XX years and younger.

    And the Medicare portion should be repealed later, primarily because of the unpredictability of healthcare costs. A temporary increase in the capital gains tax to increase and accelerate revenues for the Medicare trust fund could be instituted. Although projected healthcare costs is difficult, the knowledge that Medicare will only cover a finite number of individuals should help.

    Of course, additional refunds will be issued to the "lucky duckies" who are imprisoned by FICA taxes, if the Medicare trust fund contain any revenue after the last geezer drops dead.

    To my mind, the my proposals are in line with conservative philosophy.

    Why don't they sell it on the campaign trail. I'm sure AEI and Heritage will be happy to help. After all, isn't killing SSA and Medicare what's actually discussed at those seminars?

  • Anonymous on March 20, 2012 11:25 PM:

    Ryan Plan just lacks a broad vision for the 21st century. Not even for defense.

    Our debt reduction should aim future GDP growth, reducing income inequality, and keeping international stability, not just balancing the number.

    Democrats should insist on expiration of bush tax cut and a trillion cut on defense, oil, coal and farm subsidies while preserving programs for the poor and young (instead of cut, we should consider more efficient way to use the money without further increase).

    For the future economic competitiveness, America needs more, not less, investment on infrastructure, education, renewable energy and job training domestically.

    Meanwhile, keep the increased foreign aids and intelligence gathering while reducing the size of military bases in Europe and some in Asia and combat troops.

    Where Republicans and Democrats can agree is probably moderate cut to medicare and corporate tax cut by closing corporate loopholes. maybe reducing mortgage deduction on upper and middle class to preserve section 8 fund for the poor.

    I want them to tackle climate change by carbon tax, too, but i know that's impossible until like 2030.

  • Important to review on March 21, 2012 1:24 AM:

    Published on Tuesday, March 20, 2012
    "Paul Ryan's Sham Budget Reflects GOP Deficit-Cutting Mania:
    Tax cuts for corporations and the super-rich; budget cuts for Medicare and Medicaid – how cynical can the congressman be?"
    by Dean Baker

    "If you want to see House budget committee chairman Paul Ryan sanctimoniously excuse himself and his friends for missing the most predictable economic crisis in the history of the world, you now have the opportunity. In a YouTube video produced by his staff, Ryan tells viewers that the crisis called by the collapse of the housing bubble caught "us" by surprise.Representative Paul Ryan (Republican, Wisconsin), chairman of the House budget committee, speaking at a fiscal policy conference in 2011. (Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters)

    Well, it didn't actually catch us by surprise. Some of us had been warning about the potential damage caused by the collapse of the bubble since 2002. We repeatedly tried to warn of the dangers of the housing bubble in whatever forum we had.

    It was easy to see that the housing market was hugely over-valued and that, at some point, it would collapse – just as the stock bubble had collapsed in 2000-2002. It was also easy to see that its collapse would have a devastating impact on the economy.

    The bubble was driving the economy both directly, by propelling a construction boom, and indirectly, through the impact of housing bubble wealth on consumption. When the bubble burst, there would be nothing to replace this bubble-driven demand. It would be necessary to run the sort of large government budget deficits that we have seen the last four years in order to sustain the economy and keep the unemployment rate out of double digits.

    All of this was 100% predictable and predicted. However, Representative Ryan wants to give himself the blanket "who could have known?" amnesty because he and his Wall Street friends chose to ignore the people who were giving the warnings. Ryan should apply a variation on the sanctimonious lines in his video to himself:

    "Imagine being warned about an economic crisis that would throw more than 10 million people out of work and cause millions to lose their home and doing nothing. Imagine that our politicians in Congress and the White House chose to do nothing while there was still time, because it would have been bad politics to upset the Wall Street banks who were making so much money. They, instead, chose to ignore the warnings. That is immoral."

    While some of us were putting in overtime and missing sleep trying to warn about the dangers of the housing bubble, Representative Ryan and his cronies were whining about a budget deficit that was almost non-existent. The budget deficits that the government was running in the years just before the collapse of the housing bubble were less than 2% of GDP (pdf). The debt-to-GDP ratio was actually falling. We could have run deficits of this magnitude forever.

    After contributing, through his negligence, to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Representative Ryan has the gall to imply that the people who don't like his plan now are immoral. While the specifics of his new plan this year have only just been announced, we know what he put on the table last year.

    According to projections from the Congressional Budget Office, that plan would have raised the cost to the country of buying Medicare-equivalent insurance policies by $34tn over Medicare's 75-year planning period. It would also have led to huge cuts in Medicaid, denying healthcare to children, as well as other budget cuts that would have worsened the situation of low- and moderate-income children. And to offset these spending cuts, Representative Ryan promised big tax breaks to corporations and the richest people in the country. His budget proposed lowering the tax rate on both to just 25%.

    If we can skip the sanctimony, let's just say

  • continued from above on March 21, 2012 1:30 AM:

    "If we can skip the sanctimony, let's just say what every budget wonk knows to be true. We don't have a budget problem; we have a healthcare cost problem. If per person healthcare costs in the United States were in line with those in any other wealthy country, we would be looking at huge budget surpluses, not deficits.

    The answer lies not in cutting back, and/or eliminating Medicaid and Medicare, but in fixing the healthcare system. That's the simple truth – and to try to contend otherwise is immoral, Representative Ryan."

  • Patango on March 21, 2012 2:01 AM:

    A part of me would like to see this passed , then have the kids go around and utube the look on grandpa and grandma tea baggers faces when they get the small check in the mail to go buy HC insurance as 65 year olds , gop voters are just clue less

    I am 50 , the same age as the obamas , the gop children of the greatest generation have been a$$ holes to my generation our whole lives , I left high school right into the last great recession , social security was raised to 67 for us , my 1st union job , the senior union members voted in lower wages and benies for US , then negotiated a contract for a 10 cent an hour raise yearly over 3 years , and told us take it or leave it ...Now they have hired wall st and pencil neck ryan to screw us out of the bennies we have paid into since we started working , with a lot of cheers from that same generation ...And they have the gall to even mention CLASS WARFARE , the gop party are a disgusting lot ....