When Republicans and Democrats fight over deficit reduction, they're fighting over who gets hurt. Will it be the poor with safety net cuts, the middle class with tax and entitlement tweaks, or the rich with upper-end tax hikes?
If Ireland is any guide, a cuts-only approach like Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" will have a very predicable short-term effect on family incomes. By cutting taxes for the rich, the rich will benefit. Meanwhile, the other 99% who depend on road, public schools, and FDA-inspected food, and even unemployment insurance will be out of luck. There won't be much money left for any of those things. That is the inevitable conclusion of shrinking discretionary spending to century-lows. Ryan and conservatives are within their right to call for dramatically shrinking government. But Ryan's future is a different country. And it just might look like Ireland.