RSS
8 reasons to love — or hate — Paul Ryan's budget
The GOP budget guru unveils the fiscal document Republicans will carry into this year's election. A look at the good, the bad, and the partisan
 
Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget would reduce the top individual and corporate tax rates to 25 percent.
Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget would reduce the top individual and corporate tax rates to 25 percent.
Jeff Malet/www.maletphoto.com

This week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveiled the GOP's ambitious budget proposal to loud cheers and jeers. Just like the controversial budget Ryan released last year, the new plan would cut top tax rates, overhaul Medicare, and slash spending for a number of popular (but expensive) entitlement programs. "If you loved Paul Ryan 1.0 you'll love 2.0 as well," says Ross Douthat in The New York Times. "If you considered the first iteration a nightmare of social Darwinist cruelty, then the second iteration probably won't change your mind." Here, four things analysts and pundits are fawning over, and four things they're trashing:

WHAT TO LOVE

1. Ryan's plan cuts taxes, but not our military
The House budget chairman's plan "holds down taxes while reforming America's needlessly complex, burdensome, and highly unfair tax system," says Baker Spring at The Heritage Foundation. It also reverses President Obama's cuts to the military, and wisely raises defense spending. Unlike Obama, Ryan understands that "strategic considerations should drive defense investments, not the other way around."

2. It bravely tackles our dangerous fiscal problems
Unlike most of the "cowards and thieves" in Washington, Ryan "is a very serious man who has offered a very serious proposal, at enormous risk to himself, to fix the dire financial armageddon that will engulf our children and grandchildren for many decades," says Charles Hurt in The Washington Times. Reforming entitlements, cutting our debt, and restoring fiscal sanity are brave ideas that deserve our support; the Democratic "Neros fiddling away over silly issues like free contraception while America burns to ashes" do not.

3. It shows voters who the adults are
Ryan's plan "conveys to voters that Republicans are serious" and ready to govern, while Democrats aren't, says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. Obama has never offered a "coherent entitlement reform plan," and Senate Democrats have never offered a tax reform program. Ryan has, "and as a political matter, it is, of course, beneficial to say to the public: 'They won't lead; we will.'"

4. It's a political bonanza — for Democrats
Ryan's budget "might win him kudos from the conservative policy class, but it elicits only groans from GOP political professionals" who know these proposals are very unpopular, say Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. Democrats clobbered Republicans last year over Paul's similar plan, and "if the [GOP] handles it as poorly as it did last year, it could be in serious trouble."

WHAT TO HATE

1. Ryan's plan is neither serious nor feasible
"There is no credible path to deficit reduction without a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases," which means Ryan's plan, which cuts spending and taxes, isn't credible, says The Washington Post in an editorial. "We think his lopsided approach is dangerously wrong for the country," and we bet the country does, too. "I don't care how serious Paul Ryan sounds, or how many numbers he spouts," says Kevin Drum at Mother Jones. "This is not a serious plan," and we shouldn't treat it as such.

2. His proposal savages the poor
"In essence, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse — on steroids," says Robert Greenstein at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Ryan says that slashing funding for student loans, research, infrastructure, and most gallingly, the poor and uninsured, is necessary because of America's fiscal straits. But then he proposes $4.6 trillion in new tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the rich. "Deficit reduction does not require the Scrooge-like, Gilded-Age policies that the Ryan plan embodies."

3. It actually increases America's debt burden
"It seems Ryan and his Republican colleagues got so wrapped up in creating a budget that benefits the top 1 percent, they forgot to actually reduce the debt," says Travis Waldron at ThinkProgress. Once you realize that his plan depends on projected "levels of revenue that are pure fantasy," what you get is rising deficits and a steadily rising national debt.

4. Ryan's plan is too timid
"The Ryan budget is a disappointment for fiscal conservatives," says Chris Chocola at the Club for Growth. It doesn't go nearly far enough, and won't balance the budget for decades. And what about his glacially slow Medicare-to-voucher plan, asks Peter Suderman in Reason. After 18 years, 60 percent of Medicare beneficiaries would still be in the current (broken) system, and "large remnants" of traditional Medicare would still be around in 40 years. That's hardly the "radical change" we need.

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week