Paul Ryan, the Janesville genius, unveiled another one of his budget proposals yesterday — and it’s a doozy.
To say that it’s a flawed document is too charitable by half.
In one sense, the Ryan plan is simply an election-year political statement, as we see HERE:
For the second time in as many years, the House Republican leadership has put forward a deficit-cutting budget plan that’s more of a political statement than a governing blueprint. The proposed budget for fiscal 2013 promotes a long list of conservative policies that are only tangentially related to the federal fisc — for example, repealing new federal restrictions on Wall Street and ending the moratorium on offshore oil drilling. Even the proposals that are purely fiscal in nature rely on changes in law that Senate Democrats won’t support, such as repealing the 2010 healthcare reform law.
In another sense, the Ryan plan is much ado about nothing, especially regarding tax reform, as Matt Yglesias POINTS OUT:
His budget in all its PDF’d glory contains a thirteen page discussion of tax reform. Not one sentence. Not one paragraph. Thirteen pages dedicated to explaining his vision for revenue-neutral tax reform. And even so he manages to not name a single tax deduction that he’s planning to eliminate. Home mortgage interest deduction? I dunno. Electric vehicle tax credit? I dunno. Deductibility of state and local income taxes? I dunno. I read thirteen pages on tax reform, and didn’t learn anything about Paul Ryan’s views on tax reform.
And then there’s Ryan’s heartfelt sympathy for the nation’s underprivileged. Dana Milbank CRYSTALLIZES the plan’s combination of tax breaks for the wealthy and cuts in social programs:
Ryan’s justification was straight out of Dickens. He wants to improve the moral fiber of the poor. There is, he told the audience at the conservative American Enterprise Institute later Tuesday, an “insidious moral tipping point, and I think the president is accelerating this.” Too many Americans, he said, are receiving more from the government than they pay in taxes.
After recalling his family’s immigration from Ireland generations ago, and his belief in the virtue of people who “pull themselves up by the bootstraps,” Ryan warned that a generous safety net “lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency, which drains them of their very will and incentive to make the most of their lives. It’s demeaning.”
How very kind: To protect poor Americans from being demeaned, Ryan is cutting their anti-poverty programs and using the proceeds to give the wealthiest Americans a six-figure tax cut.
UPDATE: Conservative pundit Fred Barnes SUGGESTS (with a clumsy bit of writing) that Ryan might become Mitt Romney’s running-mate:
A big step Romney took toward becoming an unabashed conservative was his endorsement Tuesday of the House Republican budget drafted by Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee. It is a very conservative document, both reform-minded in regard to entitlements and committed to lower taxes and serious spending cuts, save defense.
And there may be more than meets the eye to Romney’s alliance with Ryan. It indicates that Romney is ready, assuming he wins the presidential nomination, to join with congressional Republicans to run on a common agenda. Ryan is the most influential thinker in the GOP on domestic and economic issues.
Ryan was persistent in refusing to consider running for president himself in 2012. But vice president? Romney is close to Senator Rob Portman of Ohio and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has often been touted as a strong running mate. Both are from critical states. Portman is a Capitol Hill insider, Rubio an outsider skilled as a speaker. Ryan is both.
UPDATE II: The most SCATHING ASSSESSMENT of Ryan’s budget proposal comes from Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
The new Ryan budget is a remarkable document — one that, for most of the past half-century, would have been outside the bounds of mainstream discussion due to its extreme nature. In essence, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse — on steroids. It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history).