Enjoy Paul Ryan’s excellent new budget while you can, because nearly everything in it is pretty much anathema to progressive Democrats. And yes, many of us wish it did more, but even slowing spending growth from $46 trillion to $41 trillion and attempting to balance the budget in ten years is a start.
More important, though, Republicans need more tangible ideas. Left-wing like to contend that the presidential election put to bed any argument over spending and budgets for all time. A referendum for the ages! I doubt it. And if we believe polls, Americans like the idea of flattening and lowering tax rates. They like the idea of balancing a budget. They like the idea of work requirements for welfare programs. If they hear about it, they’ll like a lot about Ryan’s budget.
Ryan’s reforms can also be effectively contrasted against the deficit reduction proposals coming from White House, namely the closing of some Lear jet tax loophole or other piddling “revenue” sources.
What would The Path to Prosperity do?
- Eliminate Obamacare.
- There???s tax reform, which among other things includes: lowering all tax rates for all individuals, bringing the top individual rate to 25 percent.
- Flatten tax rates by consolidating seven tax brackets into two.
- Reduce the corporate tax rate to 25 percent.
- Repeal the alternative minimum tax.
- Cut discretionary spending.
- Attach time limits and work requirements to food stamps.
- Block-grant Medicaid, which offers states more autonomy in allocating money and finding innovation.
- Reforms Medicare with a choice-in voucher plan. Those 55 and older would not be affected.
- Ryan, despite all the campaign rhetoric, also keeps the$716 billion to Medicare cuts. A flip flop? Maybe. Good policy? Yes.
Yet, you can imagine that the folks who believe trimming $46 billion in the sequester heralds the Age of Austerity might have a different take on the situation. As Ryan pointed out yesterday in the Wall Street Journal:
Our opponents will shout austerity, but let’s put this in perspective. On the current path, we’ll spend $46 trillion over the next 10 years. Under our proposal, we’ll spend $41 trillion. On the current path, spending will increase by 5% each year. Under our proposal, it will increase by 3.4%. Because the U.S. economy will grow faster than spending, the budget will balance by 2023, and debt held by the public will drop to just over half the size of the economy.
Ryan???s budget will soon be demagogued by Democrats. Paul Krugman will unleash invective and marvel at the depravity on the right. The media will lecture Americans on how ???severe??? and/or ???deep??? these cuts will be. We???ll hear about the trauma that will be inflicted on the underprivileged. Reporters will search for economists who will tell us that now, as we stand on the brink of an economic revival, it would be unfathomable to cut spending. All of this is inevitable.
We also know that the Path to Prosperity isn???t going anywhere, legislatively speaking, considering the structure of Washington. But politically, Ryan offers some tangible pro-growth reforms that can be used to make an argument that goes beyond the typical platitudes that too many Republicans like to rely on.
David Harsanyi is author of Obama’s Four Horsemen: The Disasters Unleashed by Obama’s Reelection.