Liberals with furrowed brows are conjuring up attacks (many contradictory) on Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget. To save them time, I’ve come up with 10 of these that don’t pass the laugh test ( and I even explain why the arguments aren’t worth making):
1. It doesn’t balance the budget in 10 years. Ryan’s budget puts us in “primary balance” ( the term President Obama is fond of using) in 2015; Obama’s never does. In 2012 the deficit is less than $1 trillion; Obama’s is over a trillion in 2012, the fourth straight year of trillion-dollar deficits. If you want to balance the budget in a decade you are looking at massive tax increases and substantial cuts in entitlement benefits for current retirees. Does Obama want to make that proposal?
2. It favors the rich. Actually, the rich are “hurt” by items such as Medicare means testing and by wiping out corporate welfare. The White House’s plan to do nothing on Medicaid will eventually leave the poor with a defunct health plan.
3. Ryan spares defense. He follows Obama’s defense spending cuts — $178 billion in the 2012 budget. Considering we are now fighting three, not two, wars under Obama, that seems rather draconian actually.
4. It takes a long time to eliminate the debt. By the 2050s it will do so and in the process reduce the debt by $120 billion more than Obama’s plan.
5. Ryan doesn’t touch Social Security. Well, that’s Sen. Harry Reid’s position. In Ryan’s plan there is a trigger for Social Security that forces the president and both houses of Congress to put forth a plan to save the system.
6. Ryan doesn’t flesh out his tax proposals. Well, budgets don’t ordinarily do that. In fact, it’s rather extraordinary that a budget goes into as much detail as Ryan’s does. He is clear that he wants to reduce the top corporate and individual tax rates, eliminate the Obamacare taxes and broaden the tax base. Obama is proposing $1.5 trillion in tax increases.
7. You can’t solve our problem without massive tax hikes. Obama’s unserious plan shows that you can have huge tax increases ($1.5 trillion) and make no real progress on reducing the debt. Ryan envisions pro-growth tax reform that will be revenue neutral, keeping the level of taxation within historic norms.
8. He repeals but doesn’t replace Obamacare. Again, this is a budget. Ryan has previously said he’ll put out his own plan in the summer. But yes, he sure does repeal the increasingly unpopular Obamacare.
9. He’s going to ravage discretionary spending. The president wants a five-year freeze at the elevated level he has achieved by overspending for two years. Republicans want to lock in 2008 spending levels. In 2008, we were not at the brink of destroying civilization as we know it.
10. Ryan takes government spending below 20 percent of GDP. This is a bad thing? Obama’s projected budget keep government at about 23 percent of GDP. By historic standards the Ryan proposal is not radical in the least.
Don’t get me wrong, there may be smart criticisms of the Ryan plan from the left and the right. But if we can dispense with these silly ones then we might have an informed and productive debate on how to avoid a debt crisis, in which we will see massive dislocation and enforced austerity.