Co-Director of CEPR; Author, ‘The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive’
The Paul Ryan Rorschach Test
Posted: 03/26/2012 5:08 pm
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan did a great public service when he released his budget last week. By throwing a piece of total garbage on the table and pretending it is a real budget plan, he allowed us to see who in Washington is serious about the budget and who just says things that will push their agenda.
It is easy to see that Ryan himself could not possibly be serious about the document he put out as a “Path to Prosperity.” The Congressional Budget Office analysis of the plan, which was prepared under Representative Ryan’s direction, shows that all categories of government spending outside of health care and Social Security will shrink to 3.75 percent of GDP by 2050.
This 3.75 percent of GDP includes defense spending, which is currently close to 4.0 percent of GDP, not including the cost of the war in Afghanistan. Representative Ryan said that he wants to keep defense spending close to its current level. This means that we have no money left to pay for the Justice Department, the State Department, support for education, roads and other infrastructure, the Park Service, the National Institutes of Health and all the other things that we expect the federal government to do. Essentially Paul Ryan is an anarchist who is proposing to shut down the federal government.
This cannot be a misrepresentation of Representative Ryan’s agenda. He put out essentially the same budget last year at which point many people pointed out the fact that he shrank most categories of government spending to zero. If that was a mistake (albeit an incredibly foolish one) he has now had a full year to reflect on his error and redesign a budget to reflect his real priorities.
Instead, he doubled down. In Representative Ryan’s 2012 Path there is no room for federal funding for all the services that even conservatives expect the government to provide. Does the Republican right now want to shut down federal prisons and end border patrols as Representative Ryan’s budget implies.