The Ryan Budget

Paul Ryan has put forward a new Republican budget.  What’s most disturbing is how many in the journalist/pundit class are so convinced of Ryan’s reasonableness and seriousness.  Kevin Drum knows better.  Two great posts cut to the core of how laughably unserious and unrealistic Ryan’s budget is.  First:

So if we cut spending to 19%, it means that the entire budget outside of Social Security, Medicare, and Defense (which Ryan also doesn’t want to cut much) has to be cut by half or more. Ryan will do his best to cover this up, but there’s no way around the numbers. The country is aging. We’re going to spend more on the elderly. If we cut spending levels at the same time, everything non-elderly gets whacked hard. That’s the basic story. It’s not a path to prosperity, it’s a path to penury.

And a nice follow-up post with more details:

Well, it turns out that the Congressional Budget Office has put a concrete number to “whacked hard” here. Medicaid and CHIP (children’s healthcare) would decline from 2% of GDP today to 1% of GDP in 2050, and everything else — that is, everything other than Social Security and Medicare — would decline from 12.5% of GDP today to about 4% of GDP in 2050.

This is, to put it mildly, nuts. Defense spending alone amounts to 4% of GDP, and it’s vanishingly unlikely that this will ever fall much below 2-3% of GDP. This means that all domestic spending will decline from about 8% of GDP to 1-2% of GDP by 2050. That’s prisons, border control, education, the FBI, courts, embassies, the IRS, FEMA, housing, student loans, roads, unemployment insurance, etc. etc. It’s everything. Whacked by about 80% or so.

This is not a serious plan. I don’t care how serious Paul Ryan sounds, or how many numbers he spouts, or how many charts he buries us under. It’s not serious.

Not that the norms of journalism don’t keep most reports from pretending otherwise.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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