Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ryan’s Hype Part II

Last year Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) came out with a budget plan that got everyone talking and set the benchmark for how the GOP envisioned getting the deficit under control by basically cutting everything — healthcare, aid to the poor, education — and cutting taxes for the poor put-upon rich people and corporations because, to quote the immortal Mitt Romney, “corporations are people, my friend,” and they’ve suffered enough.

The Ryan Plan of 2011 went nowhere but for a while the guy with the Eddie Munster hair and the brutally simplistic budget was the darling of the right wing to the point that they talked up him running for president… along with everyone else in the party with a pulse who wasn’t Mitt Romney. But as time went on, the cheering faded as we moved on to other more important matters, such as Herman Cain’s peccadilloes and Rick Santorum’s obsession with gay sex and birth control.

Now it’s March again, and it’s time for Mr. Ryan to come out with yet another budget plan. The details may be a little different, but it’s the same philosophy: cut social programs and cut taxes for rich people. If you’re healthy and rich, this is a fantastic plan. For the rest of us — oh, say, the 99% — it sucks out loud with cheese. Greg Sargent interviewed Robert McIntyre of the non-partisan Citizens for Tax Justice. Mr. McIntyre was not impressed.

Bottom line: By McIntyre’s calculations, the Ryan budget cuts taxes by $4.3 trillion over 10 years; and it cuts spending by $4.2 trillion over the same period. Since the former is larger than the latter, the deficit would marginally go up.

And it’s much, much worse than this, McIntyre says, because he doesn’t believe that the Ryan budget would only cut taxes by $4.3 trillion. His budget doesn’t specify any of the deductions and loopholes he’d close to offset the huge cost of the tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, McIntyre points out — meaning the overall tax cut would likely be far larger than he says, and that the deficit would likely soar.

“He thinks he can get the corporate and personal rate down to 25 percent and not lose money,” says McIntyre, whose group is liberal leaning but nonpartisan and doesn’t hesitate to criticize Democrats. “He waves his hands, and says, `There must be something to cover it.’”

McIntyre says the plan would proably result in a “huge” deficit increase, even though there isn’t enough information in the proposal to calculate it.

By the way, a group of conservative — and by the current definition, some real whackadoodles — don’t like the Ryan budget either because it doesn’t go far enough. Seriously.

None of it really matters because there’s no chance that the Ryan budget will ever become reality. It may pass the House, but it would be dead on arrival in the Senate, and even if somehow it got through, it would be stabbed to death with a veto pen. Knowing that, why bother?

Well, it’s easy to be draconian when you know nothing is going to happen with it. All it does is set the marker for the party to rally around as their attempt to come across as a player in the kabuki of the campaign. The only thing this budget doesn’t cut is the cynicism and the bullshit.