Paul Ryan Can’t Line His Numbers Up, And Conservatives Should Worry

Bill Scher

In his latest 10-year budget, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) cuts $5 trillion in overall spending, erases Obama’s expansion of Medicaid then takes from it another $732 billion, partially privatizes Medicare and reduces social spending to less than half of its share of the economy under Ronald Reagan.

And yet, in order to meet his goal of eliminating budget deficits by 2024, he still has to resort to budget gimmickry.

He uses “dynamic scoring” to assume that his tax cuts will magically create more tax revenue to fill in the final budget gaps.

If I were a conservative, that would shake me to my core.

Even in a conservative fantasy world, where you can cut and cut and cut to your heart’s content, the budget still doesn’t balance unless you cheat.

There are two ways to look at that mathematical reality.

One is the Sarah Palin way, which is to lambaste Ryan for not cutting enough money early in the 10-year window: “The latest Ryan (R, Wisconsin) Budget is not an April Fool’s joke. But it really IS a joke because it is STILL not seeing the problem; it STILL is not proposing reining in wasteful government overspending TODAY, instead of speculating years out that some future Congress and White House may possibly, hopefully, eh-who-knows, take responsibility for today’s budgetary selfishness and shortsightedness to do so. THIS is the definition of insanity.”

That last sentence is correct, just not in the way Palin thinks it means.

The other way is to question whether the goal of balanced budget is actually reasonable in a 10-year time frame.

In theory, if not having a balanced budget by 2024 meant America would become Greece, then sure, you would have to do what you have to do, and cut what you have to cut. But no serious economist actually believes that.

So why should conservatives take countless political risks – savaging Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps, just to name a few – to achieve something that’s not mathematically possible within the bounds of political reality? (And placing the Ryan budget within the bounds of political reality is being exceedingly generous.)

If that wasn’t reason enough for Republicans to shelve the Ryan budget, remember that since Congress passed a two-year budget deal in January, a fiscal year 2015 budget resolution has no practical purpose.

Frankly, the Republican obsession with this fuzzy math budget is just plain weird.


Reject the Ryan budget by signing this petition.

Comments