When is budget hawk not a budget hawk

I’m just going to borrow this lock, stock, and barrel from Kevin Drum:

Paul Ryan is a budget hawk’s budget hawk, never one to believe a government bureaucrat who self-servingly claims that a spending cut will cause real damage to his program and the people it benefits. But there are exceptions:

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) expressed skepticism Thursday that U.S. military leaders were being honest in their budget requests to Congress. “We don’t think the generals are giving us their true advice,” Ryan said during a forum on the budget sponsored by the National Journal. “We don’t think the generals believe their budget is really the right budget.”

“You don’t believe the generals?” [managing editor Kristin] Roberts asked.

“What I believe is this budget does hollow out defense,” Ryan responded….”I think there’s a lot of budget smoke and mirrors in the Pentagon’s budget,” Ryan added, saying his proposal was an “honest Pentagon budget.”

Just to be absolutely clear here: if we’re talking about a program that helps the poor or the elderly or the sick, Ryan is eager to cut spending. In fact, he’s usually eager to be the biggest budget cutter in the room. But if it’s a program for the military, he won’t accept spending cutseven if the military brass supports them. In fact, he insists on raising their budget.

For some reason, this is known in mainstream circles as being a “deficit hawk.”

The fact that he is treated as such a serious and reasonable thinker by pretty much all the mainstream media just rubs salt into the wound.

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

3 Responses to When is budget hawk not a budget hawk

  1. You must admit that our current level of spending is not sustainable. Rep. Ryan offers an aggressive plan that is a starting point. Currently, we are content with following the same path. The major entitlement programs are being crushed under their own weight. Perhaps the greatest deception being played out by many members of Congress is the fact that they have convinced most Americans that we we do not have a debt problem. Thanks for the interesting read.

    Jeff Metz

    • David says:

      Yes, an aggressive starting plan that doesn’t actually balance the budget until 2040 and gives enormous benefits to those already doing quite well and pays for it by gutting the social safety net and essentially zeroing out the rest of the normal government functions we’ve agreed on on a bipartisan basis over the past few years. He’s not serious. He’s an ideologue whose views should be scorned just as any Democrat who forced his staff to read the Communist Manifesto should be scorned.

      It doesn’t bother me that Ryan wants to reduce entitlement spending (as I know his budget will never become law), what bothers me is his patently obvious fear of correctly characterizing his budget as a philosophical objection to progressive taxation and the moral evil of the welfare state. If you’re going to gut the welfare state, don’t pretend like you actually care about the old and the poor. You don’t. So be honest and own it.

  2. Steve Greene says:

    Nope. I will admit that current levels of spending given current levels of revenue are unsustainable. And here’s it’s worth noting that we are at Post-War lows of revenue as a percentage of GDP. And no, “the major entitlement” programs are not being crushed by their own weight. Social security could use some tweaks. Long-term budget issues are about two things. 1) Low levels of revenue/taxation that have become theology to the Republican party. 2) Health care, health care, health care. I’m aware of one political party that’s tried to do something about this (admittedly imperfectly, but we live in a real world) and another party that somehow thinks selling insurance across state lines and changing malpractice laws will actually do something about this. I refer you to the following chart: https://fullymyelinated.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/the-only-chart-of-the-day-youll-ever-need/
    Thanks for the very civil tone and approach!

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