The Washington Post

A tale of two budgets

In comparing Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) Path to Prosperity budget for FY 2013 and the just-released budget from Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and the Democratic House Budget Committee, I am reminded of what Alexis de Tocqueville did not say (I am always reminded this quote is mis-attributed to de Tocqueville) — “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.”  

Ryan gets credit for acknowledging the obvious. His budget recognizes both the need for economic growth and how imperative it is to curtail spending. The Democrats, on the other hand, rely on class warfare tactics in their budget. Those who currently receive, receive more; those who currently pay, pay more. They are hoping that the takers will turn out in greater numbers in the November election than the givers.

The Ryan budget accounts for additional deficit totals of $3.13 trillion over the next decade, while Van Hollen’s alternative budget includes an added deficit total of $6 trillion. While Ryan’s plan focuses on balancing the budget by 2040, and reducing the deficit to 1.2 percent of GDP by 2022, Van Hollen’s offering does not even pretend to set a time frame for balancing the budget.

If you measure empathy by the price tag, then those who support adding six trillion dollars to the public debt are almost twice as caring as those who only add $3.1 trillion to the next generation’s tab.

If there was a referendum on the two budgets now, who do you think would win? Is this what President Obama wants the November election to be about?

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.


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