Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Paul Ryan's challenge

Yesterday Speaker Boehner said that by April 15th Rep. Paul Ryan will have put forward a House Republican budget that will balance by the year 2023 - in 10 years. This might be just a hoax to get the lunatics in his party to vote today to "suspend" the debt limit until May 18th. But just in case they are actually serious, we should take a look at the challenge Ryan faces.

First of all, its important to note that Ryan's last budget in 2011 didn't get to balance until 2040. So he's got to compress it all down even further. But Ryan and other Republicans have hammed themselves in with things they WON'T do on the budget:
  • they won't raise taxes
  • they won't cut military spending
  • they won't cut Medicare and Social Security for people 55+ (is that something they're still committed to? If so, are they taking entitlement reforms off the table in these negotiations?)
Jonathan Chait gives us the bird's eye view of what that means.
According to Richard Kogan of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, balancing the budget in 2023 will require an estimated $800 billion in savings that year...

So what's left? You have, mainly, programs for the poor and very sick, like Medicaid, child nutrition, unemployment benefits, and so on. Then you have domestic discretionary spending, which is basically all the major functions of government that aren't either defense or writing a check to people — infrastructure, food inspectors, scientific research, and on and on...

...that's the pot of available savings. It's around a trillion and a half dollars in 2023. So, that means House Republicans will have to cut domestic discretionary programs and spending for the poor by about half.
So Ryan is going to have to find $800 billion in savings from those programs out of a total of $1.5 trillion by 2023 - more than half of what is currently projected. Damn "takers!"

Here's what President Obama said last time Ryan tried this.
But the way this plan achieves those goals would lead to a fundamentally different America than the one we’ve known certainly in my lifetime. In fact, I think it would be fundamentally different than what we’ve known throughout our history.

A 70 percent cut in clean energy. A 25 percent cut in education. A 30 percent cut in transportation. Cuts in college Pell Grants that will grow to more than $1,000 per year. That’s the proposal. These aren’t the kind of cuts you make when you’re trying to get rid of some waste or find extra savings in the budget. These aren’t the kinds of cuts that the Fiscal Commission proposed. These are the kinds of cuts that tell us we can’t afford the America that I believe in and I think you believe in.

I believe it paints a vision of our future that is deeply pessimistic. It’s a vision that says if our roads crumble and our bridges collapse, we can’t afford to fix them. If there are bright young Americans who have the drive and the will but not the money to go to college, we can’t afford to send them...

It’s a vision that says up to 50 million Americans have to lose their health insurance in order for us to reduce the deficit. Who are these 50 million Americans? Many are somebody’s grandparents -- may be one of yours -- who wouldn’t be able to afford nursing home care without Medicaid. Many are poor children. Some are middle-class families who have children with autism or Down’s syndrome. Some of these kids with disabilities are -- the disabilities are so severe that they require 24-hour care. These are the Americans we’d be telling to fend for themselves...

The America I know is generous and compassionate. It’s a land of opportunity and optimism. Yes, we take responsibility for ourselves, but we also take responsibility for each other; for the country we want and the future that we share...

To meet our fiscal challenge, we will need to make reforms. We will all need to make sacrifices. But we do not have to sacrifice the America we believe in. And as long as I’m President, we won’t.


  1. It's also noteworthy that the last time they ran out with a budget by Ryan, they got hammered in a set of special elections, particularly in districts that were "safe Republican." So I'm pretty sure that any budget they come out with this year will have most of the "savings" on the back end, after they can get through the 2014 and 2016 election cycles. The reality is that they "can't get there from here," particularly given their starting conditions.

    1. Just as an aside, the captcha that you have running is the single most illegible one I've seen.

    2. The captcha I'm using is the only one blogger offers.

      I probably won't use it for long. But its doing the job I need done - chase away the spam-a-lots. I'm hoping they get discouraged and don't come back when I turn it off.

    3. The spam-a-lots are why I went with WordPress instead. Much better spam control features. I normally don't mind captcha, but this one was completely illegible, and the "sound capability" version was just a sort of drawl with tons of static.

  2. " And as long as I’m President, we won’t."

    And that's why we re-elected him!

  3. In Ryan's old budget, at least he brought the deficit down further than Obama's plan! We don't need it to balance, but do need it to be in the 1-2% of GDP range


why i've been awol

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