Wherein I Actually Praise Republicans

I have been told that the first person in a negotiation that mentions a number will lose.  Something similar is at work with the US federal budget.  When they controlled Congress, Democrats never even proposed a budget for this fiscal year (which began last October, months before they lost control of the House).  Obama's budget is simply a bad joke, a non-effort,  that simply extrapolates current trends without any real change or exercise of control.

Its amazing to me that all the news reports today are about the "risk" Republicans are taking by actually proposing a plan into this vacuum.   It is amazing to me that actually trying to exercise adult supervision when everyone else is voting "present" could be "political suicide," but I have to accept that the political experts know their stuff.

This situation is in fact exactly what Democrats have been hoping for -- they have purposefully hoped to avoid suggesting any solutions in order to force the Republicans to be the first and only ones to the table with suggestions.  Democrats have zero desire to actually close the multi-trillion dollar deficit;  rather, they see it as a huge opportunity that traps Republicans into trying to actually, you know, solve the problem.  These proposed solutions can then be demagogued against to electoral victory.  Or so goes the theory.

So, I want to thank the Republicans for actually producing a budget plan that actually attempts to bring some fiscal sense to the government.  I would have like to see other changes (less defense spending, elimination of Dept. of Education in favor of block grants, zeroing out of all farm and ethanol subsidies, etc) and Ryan's numbers seem screwy, but let us be happy there is at least one adult in Washington.

  • Brian

    What's disappointing is that a Republican proposed a much more thrifty budget with $500 billion in cuts, but the party conveniently chooses to ignore that in favor Ryan's.

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/2011/01/detailed-look-rand-paul-spending-bill

  • MJ

    There was also the Simpson-Bowles proposal from last year. Not only was it more realistic than what is currently being discussed (or not discussed), but it also outsourced the job of being the bearer of bad tidings to ex-legislators who do not have to stand for re-election.

  • Daublin

    Wow, Brian, that's a really good read. Especially if you click through to the PDF file with Rand Paul's own analysis.

    For the most part, it simply returns bloated programs to their 2008 levels. A few obsolete programs are also eliminated.

    I understand why this sort of thing is normally a political non-starter. I don't understand why it's a political non-starter right now, when the budget is so obviously out of whack.

  • caseyboy

    Conventional wisdom in politics suggests the republicans will suffer for formalizing their position so that democrats can attack. However, I hope that the 2010 elections were a prelude to as sea change in the electorate. An electorate that will stay the course and support the efforts of legislators that attempt to do what it is they were elected to do. Could Paul Ryan's plan be improved upon, of course. But I like what he is doing with medicare and the tax rate reductions coupled with closing some long standing loopholes should help.

  • Dan

    I will take Ryan seriously when he decides to address runaway defense spending, perhaps the best example of corporate welfare in the budget. Meaningful reductions in defense spending would not put the U.S. at risk (we already spend 40 times more than any other country) and would go a long way toward lowering the deficit.

    Ryan doesn't go beyond what Gates proposed, and $78 billion over however many years is a drop in the bucket as annual defense spending heads toward $1 trillion. When the history books are written, they will show that the U.S. spent itself to bankruptcy on healthcare and defense (and on interest payments).

    Ryan seems determined to make most of the cuts hurt the poor (Medicaid) while lowering tax rates for the rich. How about targeting the big defense contractors? How about ensuring that our large corporations actually pay the taxes they owe (I have no problem with lowering the corporate tax rate, but those dollars need to be collected). Ryan, to his credit, does mention this, but not in a major way (he doesn't want to scare his parties benefactors, I suppose).

    I agree with Ryan that we need big changes to Medicare. I'm not expert enough to know if his proposals will help, but I'm behind him on that. I hope the two parties will move forward on a serious debt reduction plan, but it has to be done equitably and the rich have to pay their share (and, although I'm not super wealthy, I say this as someone who would be hit if the rich had to pay more).

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    > but let us be happy there is at least one adult in Washington.

    I'm sure there is more than one, but unfortunately they're mostly busy dealing with Mr. Poopy Pants....

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    > I will take Ryan seriously when he decides to address runaway defense spending, perhaps the best example of corporate welfare in the budget. Meaningful reductions in defense spending would not put the U.S. at risk (we already spend 40 times more than any other country) and would go a long way toward lowering the deficit.

    Yeah, that's the problem. Runaway entitlement spending, which is more than 2.5x what defense spending is... Naww, ignore that!!!

    > as annual defense spending heads toward $1 trillion.

    ... a number already surpassed years ago by entitlement spending, and increasing far faster than defense spending... Naww, ignore that!!!

    > lowering tax rates for the rich.

    Yeah, those bastards!! What makes them think they deserve to keep more than 1/20th of what they make!?!?! The skinflint SOBs!! They're supposed to pay for my Nikes! And my big screen TV!

    > the rich have to pay their share

    Yeah, 90% of the entire budget isn't anywhere near enough!

    > although I’m not super wealthy, I say this as someone who would be hit if the rich had to pay more

    Yeah.... Yeah! That's the ticket...

  • Dan

    I know it's no use arguing with someone who knows everything and has his mind made up, but, as I said, I'm glad Ryan is addressing runaway entitlement spending (Medicare). Something needs to be done. I also think runaway defense spending needs to be addressed. Perhaps IgotBukis, you have some reason why you're OK with wasteful spending on the military but not on healthcare?

    By the way, you may not have noticed, but the highest tax rate has gone from 90% to well under 40% in the last 50 years. That's coincided with the huge run-up in our debt.