Paul Ryan on the Death of Serious Budgeting


Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) penned an editorial for the Wall Street Journal today, in which he made an important point:

Ever since they abused the budget process to jam their health-care takeover through Congress last year, the Democrats have simply done away with serious budgeting altogether. The simplest explanation—and the president’s real bluff—is that they don’t want to commit publicly to the kind of tax increases and health-care rationing that would be required to sustain their archaic vision of government.

After reminding us that Obama’s sole contribution to the entire debt ceiling debate was a laughable farce of a budget proposal in February, and the Democrat-controlled Senate hasn’t passed a budget in over two years, Ryan describes the consequences of their irresponsibility:

This leadership deficit has thrown the federal budget process into chaos at the worst possible time. Even though Congress has cut spending by a significant amount, it still hasn’t dealt with the drivers of our debt—primarily federal spending on health care.

The math is scary, yet simple: In the years ahead, spending on programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Democrats’ new health-care entitlements is projected to skyrocket relative to the size of the economy, even as federal spending on everything else is projected to decline.

Isn’t it remarkable that serious budgeting, formerly regarded as an essential responsibility of the federal government, vanished just as the government reached unprecedented size, fueled by historic levels of deficit spending?

This makes a mockery of the very intellectual foundation of Big Government, which asserts that the State is best suited to manage a rapidly growing portion of its citizens’ lives.  The whole point of something like ObamaCare is to control and distribute health insurance, because individuals cannot be trusted to make such decisions on their own, without falling victim to predatory private-sector corporations.  Bailouts for failed companies impose the superior wisdom of the State upon the messy carnage of the free market.

And yet, the all-wise, all-knowing State cannot even prepare a simple budget document for itself… something that is absolutely required of the private corporations it regards as inferior.  Why does anyone think Washington can do a marvelous job of controlling health care, when it can’t even tell us exactly what it plans to spend next year?

Even more absurdly, this very same wanton State expects us to take its long-term economic forecasts, and even longer-term promises of its own behavior, as gospel.  As of August 3, 2011, a proper budget for 2011 is still beyond Washington’s capacity to produce, but it’s proudly boasting of how much fiscal discipline it will have between 2016 and 2021.  Also, it knows what the weather will be, and if you don’t want dead polar bears floating through downtown Houston, you’d better start using those crappy bio-hazard light bulbs, which would get you convicted of war crimes if you threw them at a terrorist.

Ryan looks to the future with a calculator instead of a crystal ball, and you won’t like what he sees:

The CBO’s latest Long-Term Outlook in June estimated that total tax revenues would have to double by mid-century in order to finance our current spending path. Health-care costs rose about 8% in 2011 and are projected to rise by 8.5% in 2012. At this rate, taxes would have to rise again and again just to keep up with health-care spending. Is it any wonder that the president and his party are afraid to produce a budget that requires such ruinous levels of taxation?

During the 1984 presidential campaign, Walter Mondale made one of the most widely-quoted campaign blunders of the modern era when he told the Democratic National Convention, “Let’s tell the truth.  Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I.  He won’t tell you.  I just did.”  Mondale was part of the old generation of tax-and-spend liberal.  He wanted to raise taxes, then spend the money on social programs.  The new spend-and-tax liberal locks in gigantic levels of future spending, then treats the inevitable tax increases as somebody else’s fault – a destiny of shriveled freedom and diminished prosperity written by long-gone predecessors you can no longer vote against.

Deficit spending is a lie.  The government of the United States does not have $3.7 trillion to spend.  Its dependents cannot have all the goodies they’ve been promised.  The jobs held by thousands of government workers don’t really exist.  The government’s lack of a budget demonstrates how absurd and transparent these lies have become.

The truth lies in Paul Ryan’s fearful numbers.  Doubling tax revenue will require a lot more than doubling tax rates.  The law of diminishing returns for marginal tax increases is very steep.  The nation we must become, in order to finance the fraudulent promises made by today’s Big Government socialists, will not be a “capitalist democracy” in any meaningful sense of either of those words.