Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to cut the budget deficit makes some laughable assumptions and leaves many questions unanswered:Namely, where the $4.4 trillion of the $6.2 trillion of “savings” are going to come from.
Ryan doesn’t have the balls to actually specify these cuts: He just proposes capping federal spending at 20% of GDP. In the absence of specifics, saying that the plan will save $6.2 trillion over 10 years is misleading.
But Ryan and the Republicans deserve a lot of credit for at least acknowledging the huge fiscal mess the United States is in and proposing specific long-term remedies for dealing with it.
For the last several years, the United States has acted as though it can have everything forever: All the services and benefits everyone wants while also cutting taxes. The country’s $1.6 trillion ANNUAL deficit, combined with debt approaching 100% of GDP (which doesn’t even factor in future healthcare and Social Security liabilities) reveal that this is a pipe dream. (See: A Short Course On Why The US Is Screwed)
What can’t go on forever won’t. Our leaders have a duty to acknowledge the problem and propose a way out–even if the solutions are temporarily unpopular.
(That’s what true leadership is, by the way: Doing the right thing even when it’s unpopular, and finding a way to get folks to follow and support you because you can make them understand that it’s the right thing).
The Republicans and Paul Ryan are at least taking steps in this direction. They are acknowledging our problem and proposing concrete steps to deal with it.
The Democrats, meanwhile, are just stuffing their heads in the sand.
This year’s budget negotiations are pretty much irrelevant. Whether this year’s budget cuts $30 billion of spending or $60 billion, the savings will be a rounding error on the overall deficit.
The Democrats have yet to even acknowledge the massive long-term problem the country faces, let alone propose to solutions to it.
We understand and respect the concern about whacking the budget in the midst of a fragile recovery–it’s a valid one. If the Democrats were defending the minor cuts in this year’s budget by proposing them in conjunction with a compelling long-term plan, we’d be more sympathetic.
As it is, we can only conclude the following: The Democrats are still dreaming of a perpetual free lunch. (And they’ll do and say anything to get re-elected.)
See Also: A Short Course On Why The US Is Screwed
Photo: Mary Meeker, Kleiner Perkins
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