Oh, but you must be-lieve!
by Tom Sullivan
The House Republicans' new budget plan grabs a lot of ink this morning, little of it favorable. “This takes budget quackery to a new level,” according to Maryland Democrat Chris Von Hollen. From the New York Times:
Without relying on tax increases, budget writers were forced into contortions to bring the budget into balance while placating defense hawks clamoring for increased military spending. They added nearly $40 billion in “emergency” war funding to the defense budget for next year, raising military spending without technically breaking strict caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act.
The plan contains more than $1 trillion in savings from unspecified cuts to programs like food stamps and welfare. To make matters more complicated, the budget demands the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including the tax increases that finance the health care law. But the plan assumes the same level of federal revenue over the next 10 years that the Congressional Budget Office foresees with those tax increases in place — essentially counting $1 trillion of taxes that the same budget swears to forgo.
And so on. Et tu, Kenny? Representative Ken Buck, a Republican from Colorado told reporters, “I don’t know anyone who believes we’re going to balance the budget in 10 years ... It’s all hooey.”
Dana Milbank, writing for the Washington Post, believes Republicans when they say there are no gimmicks in their budget: The budget is a gimmick." Milbank begins by blasting the aforementioned military spending and doesn't let up:
It assumes that current tax cuts will be allowed to expire as scheduled — which would amount to a $900 billion tax increase that nobody believes would be allowed to go into effect.
It proposes to repeal Obamacare but then counts revenues and savings from Obamacare as if the law remained in effect.
It claims to save $5.5 trillion over 10 years, but in the fine print — the budget plan’s instructions to committees — it only asks them to identify about $5 billion in savings over that time.
There's more, but you get the point.
Jared Bernstein sums up the cynicism of the effort, which relies, once again, on Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's "magic asterisk" to produce revenues from sources other than taxes:
The policies put forth in this document suggest that America’s main problem is that the poor have too much and the wealthy, too little. The budget plan “corrects” this perceived imbalance by deeply cutting programs that help low- and middle-income people, and cutting taxes on those with high incomes, capital gains, multinational corporations and “pass through” business income.
It's a shame (sort of) that Paul Ryan gets all the blame for voodoo economics when Saint Ronnie's team invented it back when Ryan got quarters from the Tooth Fairy. Reagan ran for president in 1980 promising to cut taxes and expand military spending — and build a 600-ship navy — all while balancing the budget. Tax cuts that pay for themselves. "Trickle down." I thought he was nuts. But after he won, I thought, okay, you got elected in a landslide; show me what you've got.
I'm still waiting. Ryan still believes in the Tooth Fairy.