Right-wing media figures are trumpeting Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal as "serious" and "necessary" and an "adult plan." But noted economists have condemned the proposal, saying it contains ideas that have "been tried and failed."
Right-Wing Media Tout "Genius" Ryan's "Serious" Budget Plan
Kilmeade: Rep. Ryan "Might Be A Genius." While discussing Ryan's plan, Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade said:
But this is titanic in its implication. In my lifetime, I've never seen a House, or one branch of government, take such bold action to revamping our whole economic system, while the President, by almost all accounts, has punted. He said, I give you my budget. Everyone said, what's this? Even, the deficit commission said, did you listen anything I said?
What Paul Ryan does, who, by the way, might be a genius, I'm pretty sure. He put together something that is so forward leaning, it's going to make people say, "Wait a minute, we can't easily demagogue this, because it's so hard to define." He goes beyond $4 trillion dollars. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/4/11]
Brooks: Ryan's Proposal Will "Set The Standard Of Seriousness For Anybody Who Wants To Play In This Discussion." From David Brooks' New York Times column:
The country lacked that leadership until today. Today, Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, is scheduled to release the most comprehensive and most courageous budget reform proposal any of us have seen in our lifetimes. Ryan is expected to leap into the vacuum left by the president's passivity. The Ryan budget will not be enacted this year, but it will immediately reframe the domestic policy debate.
His proposal will set the standard of seriousness for anybody who wants to play in this discussion. It will become the 2012 Republican platform, no matter who is the nominee. Any candidate hoping to win that nomination will have to be able to talk about government programs with this degree of specificity, so it will improve the G.O.P. primary race.
I don't agree with all of it that I've seen, but it is a serious effort to create a sustainable welfare state -- to prevent the sort of disruptive change we're going to face if national bankruptcy comes. [The New York Times, 4/4/11]
Palin Touts "Serious & Necessary Reform" By "Serious & Necessary Leadership." From a post to Sarah Palin's Twitter feed, linking to a December, 2010 Wall Street Journal column in support of what she called "the Ryan Roadmap":
Beck: Ryan Is "One Of The Only Serious People In Washington ... On The Budget." From a discussion of Rep. Ryan's budget on Fox & Friends:
BECK: He's one of the only serious people in Washington, I think, on the budget. I mean, he can debate it, he can talk about it, he knows it inside and out. He knows what he's talking about.
The other option is to go, for instance, on Medicare, with the Zeke Emanual complete live system, which is what helped design this whole system, which is a rationing of medical care and services. That is what's coming. They'll continue to deny it, but they've also continued to deny everything else that has been proven on this network.
DOOCY: One of the other details that, according to Mr. Ryan, is in his proposal, which he wrote about in the Wall Street Journal today is he'd also like to reduce the top income tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.
BECK: Good luck getting that done. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/5/11]
Washington Examiner's Klein: Ryan Produced "A Serious Budget Proposal For A Serious Time." From an article by Philip Klein in The Washington Examiner:
This morning, Ryan has revealed his budget for 2012 and beyond, and I'm happy to report that it acknowledges the magnitude of the moment. It is a serious proposal to put our nation on a path to some semblance of fiscal solvency. [The Washington Examiner, 4/5/11]
Meanwhile, Actual Economists Criticize Ryan's Budget Plan
Mark Thoma: Ryan's Budget Plan Is Part Of GOP Strategy To Create Deficits And Use Them "As A Club Against Social Insurance Programs." University of Oregon economics professor Mark Thoma wrote:
The game being played here has little to do with the budget itself. It is an ideological debate about the role and obligation of government. First, cut taxes for the wealthy to create a big hole in the budget, have a Great Recession aid the cause by stripping government at all levels of tax revenue, increasing costs of serving people, and creating short-run deficit problems (and a war here and there doesn't hurt the cause either), and finally use the deficit as a club against social insurance programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
The cover for the attempt to get government out of the social insurance game is the deficit, but deficit reduction is not the primary purpose. The goal to reduce the government's involvement in these programs by whatever means. If deficit reduction was, in fact, the primary goal, there are much better ways to do this than the Ryan plan, e.g. the market-based mechanisms in the ACA. [Economist's View, 4/5/11]
Krugman: "The Republican Plan Is A Giant Game Of Bait-And-Switch, Dismantling A Key Piece Of The Social Safety Net In Favor Of A Privatized System." New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman wrote:
It's going to be just like the Social Security fight, only worse: once again, Very Serious People will pretend not to notice that the Republican plan is a giant game of bait-and-switch, dismantling a key piece of the social safety net in favor of a privatized system, claiming that this is necessary to save money, but never acknowledging that privatization in itself actually costs money. And we'll have endless obfuscation, both-sides-have-a-point reporting that misses the key point, which is that the putative savings come entirely from benefit cuts somewhere in the distant future that would, in all likelihood, never actually materialize. (What do you think will happen when retirees in 2025 discover that their Medicare vouchers aren't enough to buy insurance?) [NewYorkTimes.com, 4/5/11]
Baker: "Almost Everything In The Plan Has Been Tried And Failed." Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research wrote:
I want to join those in commending Representative Paul Ryan, but for a slightly different reason. Representative Ryan has provided a valuable service to the country by tossing out a piece of warmed-over dreck that calls for a massive upward redistribution from the nation's workers to the rich. This is clear to anyone who reads it.
The reason why this is so useful is that there is nothing in the Ryan plan that has not been circulated in policy circles for decades. Almost everything in the plan has been tried and failed. The plan ignores obvious economic realities, such as the bubble-induced recession that has left 25 million people unemployed or underemployed. It doesn't lay a glove on the rich and powerful, while threatening to undermine the limited economic security enjoyed by tens of millions of middle class families.
Yet many pundits will applaud the plan as brave, innovative and creative. In making these pronouncements these pundits will immediately reveal themselves as worthless hacks who either lack the ability or desire to do their own thinking. Their endorsement of the Ryan plan will be like a scarlet letter permanently marking them as someone who has no place in a serious policy discussion. For this reason we owe Mr. Ryan a real debt of gratitude. [Center for Economic and Policy Research, 4/5/11]
IHS Global Insight Economist: "I'm Not Quite Sure What Assumption ... Would Deliver 2.8 Percent Unemployment." Nigel Gault of IHS Global Insight questioned conservative claims that the proposal would reduce the unemployment rate to 2.8 percent:
Nigel Gault, Global Insight's chief U.S. economist, noted that in any economic model, forecasters make assumptions about labor supply, capital spending and other details that can affect the projections.
"I'm not quite sure what assumption... would deliver 2.8 percent unemployment," Gault said in an interview, adding: "We might assume different parameters." [The National Journal, 4/5/11]