Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Paul Ryan's Roadmap to Prosperity Missing All the Street Names

Paul Ryan came out this morning with his 2012 version of a proposed ten year budget for 2013 on, entitled "The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Revival."  Early reaction:

It sucks.  I'll be out on the street, probably hoping a death panel comes along to put me out of my misery. 
Ezra Klein:
Here’s the basic outline of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s 2013 budget in one sentence: Ryan’s budget funds trillions of dollars in tax cuts, defense spending and deficit reduction by cutting deeply into health-care programs and income supports for the poor. 
. . .
Ryan’s budget includes substantially more deficit reduction than Obama’s budget. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that, in 10 years, public debt will be about 76 percent of GDP under Obama’s budget, and 61 percent of GDP under Ryan’s budget. But almost all of Ryan’s savings come from the same source: programs for the poor.
So Ryan’s budget ultimately poses two questions: First, whether this amount of deficit reduction is actually necessary. It’s more substantial, I believe, than what’s called for in Simpson-Bowles. And second, if you do consider this amount of deficit reduction necessary, whether the right way to achieve it is almost solely by cutting programs for the poor.
Matthew Yglesias, in Ryan Breaks New Ground in Tax Reform Vagueness:
. . .  the correct thing to do on tax reform is say: we should enact a pro-growth tax reform, that cuts marginal rates while closing inefficient loopholes and deductions!

People will clap. Then you return to your daily life and nothing changes. But with today's Path to Prosperity 2.0, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin really breaks new ground in this game. His budget in all its PDF'd glory contains a thirteen page discussion of tax reform. Not one sentence. Not one paragraph. Thirteen pages dedicated to explaining his vision for revenue-neutral tax reform. And even so he manages to not name a single tax deduction that he's planning to eliminate. Home mortgage interest deduction? I dunno. Electric vehicle tax credit? I dunno. Deductibility of state and local income taxes? I dunno. I read thirteen pages on tax reform, and didn't learn anything about Paul Ryan's views on tax reform.

Interestingly, Ryan actually gets this right on Page 2 of the overall document, aka the Table of Contents, wherein he says "VI. Pro-Growth Tax Reform" which is exactly the correct way to express the idea. He is for pro-growth tax reform! So am I! So is everyone! And yet it's not going to happen by finding increasingly long-winded ways of avoiding naming specific provisions.
  Dana Milbank:
Taken together, Ryan would cut spending on such programs by $5.3 trillion, much of which currently goes to the have-nots. He would then give that money to America’s haves: some $4.3 trillion in tax cuts, compared with current policies, according to Citizens for Tax Justice.
Ryan’s justification was straight out of Dickens. He wants to improve the moral fiber of the poor. There is, he told the audience at the conservative American Enterprise Institute later Tuesday, an “insidious moral tipping point, and I think the president is accelerating this.” Too many Americans, he said, are receiving more from the government than they pay in taxes.
After recalling his family’s immigration from Ireland generations ago, and his belief in the virtue of people who “pull themselves up by the bootstraps,” Ryan warned that a generous safety net “lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency, which drains them of their very will and incentive to make the most of their lives. It’s demeaning.”
How very kind: To protect poor Americans from being demeaned, Ryan is cutting their anti-poverty programs and using the proceeds to give the wealthiest Americans a six-figure tax cut.

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