How Paul Ryan Has Called The GOP's Bluff

As is quite obvious, if you want fiscal recklessness back in power, you need to vote Republican. Their record since George H W Bush's admirable, patriotic decision to raise taxes - followed by Clinton's responsible, Eisenhower-style first budget - gave us the surplus in 2000. Since then the GOP, led by Dick "Deficits Don't Matter" Cheney and Karl "Voters Don't Care About Deficits" Rove, has been a fiscal nightmare. Paul Ryan's budget proposals, however debatable, are the first sign that a measure of fiscal  sanity can be found somewhere in the GOP).

So where are his Republican allies? Ambers explains:

Here's what Ryan would do:

Massive, across the board tax cuts. (Cue the familiar arguments about the tax code's progressivity and significant tax process simplification.)  To balance out the revenue streams, Ryan would impose an 8.5% business consumption tax, which would, in theory, place more of a burden on middle class families than the rich, as the taxes would get passed along to consumers. ...

Because deficit reduction is so intimately linked to health reform, Ryan would focus on reducing long-term burden of Medicare and Medicaid; the programs would be significantly revamped, and eventually significantly reduced, and while the level of benefits could remain the same, the way the benefits are delivered would change -- vouchers would be used to incentivize private insurance plan purchasing...

Ryan endorses a version of President Bush's partial privitization of Social Security, giving younger Americans the option of investing as much as a third of their money, and filling the multi-trillion dollar transition gap that would result by using general revenue. In other words, the rest of the government budget might have to be significantly cut in order to allow Social Security to be saved...

This isn't a non-serious plan. But Republicans don't seem to be ready to risk the accusation that they want to end Medicare (a very popular program), privatize Social Security (a non-starter), raise taxes on the middle class (by proxy) -- by affixing their name to a specific plan that does just that.

So the question for Republicans is: yes, Paul Ryan has a plan. But if you don't support it, then what, specifically, would you do to reduce the deficit over the long term?

My answer: because the GOP has no interest in fiscal balance, as they proved under Bush and Cheney and to a lesser extent under Reagan. They're fiscal frauds. If they weren't the Tea Party movement wouldn't need to exist.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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