Macro View of Ryan Budget

Paul Ryan - Reagan 2.0On Thursday in the Washington Post, Matt Miller reminded us that “Ronald Reagan ran the federal government at 22 percent of GDP when the country’s population was much younger, and health care consumed about 11 percent of GDP.” In fact, he reminded us three times! His point is simple: Paul Ryan’s budget is a joke because it runs the federal government at 19 percent of GDP when the country’s population is much older, and healthcare consumed about 18 percent of GDP. I highly recommend reading the article!

In it, he also includes part of an interview he did with Paul Ryan a year and a half ago. He brings up the Reagan comparison time and again and Ryan keeps avoiding the question. His best response is that Reagan was taking so much in taxes so that we could win the cold war. (Note: Reagan’s military buildup did not cause the communist systems to fall.) But the truth is that military spending at that time was only about one percentage point of GDP higher then. So this difference is not even mostly about military spending.

Miller claims that we shouldn’t get into the weeds regarding Ryan’s budget. On the macro level, it just doesn’t make sense. Ryan is saying that we should be taking in 3% of GDP less in taxes when the needs of the government are quite a lot greater than they used to be. Of course, Ryan isn’t fooling anyone who sees things at all clearly. As Miller wrote, “[H]e’s disingenuously trying to use the aging of America to force a severe cutback in the non-elderly, non-defense portion of government, which is already headed toward historic lows as a share of GDP.”

He goes on to paint a picture of the nation that Paul Ryan envisions:

Ryan’s vision is an America with 50 million uninsured… forever. Of infrastructure and R&D investment that trails other advanced nations… in perpetuity. Of a nation that assigns its least effective teachers to poor children… permanently.

Yep: that’s the Republican vision for our future!

Afterword

Disconcertingly, Matt Miller ended the article by asking:

It speaks volumes about today’s political culture that this thin gruel vaulted Ryan from obscurity to the “intellectual leadership” of his party and a national ticket. If all that was possible, imagine what a sensible plan championed by an intellectually honest Republican—Jon Huntsman, perhaps?—could do.

Two things stand out here. First, when Jon Huntsman had the opportunity to be the “adult in the room” he demurred. It was only after his campaign was over that he admitted that he wouldn’t accept 10-to-1 spending cuts to revenue increases in order to balance the budget. (As if that deal is responsible in any universe!) Second, it is only because Paul Ryan’s budgets have been sloppy, vague, and most of all, cruel that he was elevated to the status of budget wunderkind. I explained this last week in, Paul Ryan Loses His “Seriousness.” I’m surprised that Miller doesn’t understand this.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Macro View of Ryan Budget

  1. Friday night, the MSNBC "Last Word" guest host led off with a collection of clips from a recent GOP think-tank conference. Rand & Ryan et.al. were featured. MSNBC made quips.

    One that did strike me was a clip of Donald Trump. Now, Trump is not worth paying attention to, no more than other (non-lawmaking) conservative icons such as Palin, Bill O’R, and the rest of that pathetic pantheon. They’re the propagandists of our time, and just as boring as propagandists of any other era.

    What they say, however, can be of interest, if it illuminates what kind of propaganda resonates with its targeted audience. The clip MSNBC showed was of Trump suggesting we should allow more European, and fewer Latin American, immigrants.

    MSNBC’s intent was to mock Trump as a racist and ridicule those who listen to him. (Trump is a racist; those who listen to him deserve all the ridicule they can get. This stuff is pretty basic.)

    Trump’s comments rather intrigued me, though. His justification for hating Latin Americans was that illegals will all vote Democrat (nice staying on message, Donald; illegals can’t and don’t vote) so why don’t we get some Europeans in here?

    I particularly liked his lines that he knows many Europeans who want to move here, who are good people, hardworking people.

    I’m not sure exactly what that means. The only Europeans I’ve ever met who want to move to America are rather troubled ones who romanticize our self-image of tans and beaches. Most Europeans I’ve met are quite aware that our country is a sinking disaster pit and very happy to stay where they are. (They may like our scenery better, as well they should, and may want their countries to get rid of many social protections that made them safe, as well they shouldn’t, but even the right-wingers regard our system as an utter joke. Paying for health care? Madness!)

    The key term in that MSNBC Trump clip is "hardworking." In what fantasy universe does anyone imagine anyone works harder than Latin American immigrants to America? I know, many Americans have hard and shitty jobs, but the jobs of immigrants are harder and shittier. What’s more, they’re aware of that going in. They take the risks of deportation, the risks of being injured on the job, they know they won’t be paid for crap, and they work their butts off because $3 an hour is better than they can get in their home countries we’ve economically devastated for a century.

    When Trump says "hardworking" to an appreciative audience of assholes, he’s not talking about hard work, not the way any rational person would define it. He’s defining "hardworking" as "most rich." As in, them that makes the most works the hardest. This is beyond ludicrous and beneath contempt. Every single immigrant currently in America works harder than Donald Trump, and the overwhelming majority are more intelligent plus vastly more skilled.

    Trump’s celebrity is based on his keen awareness of the times he lives in. As a failed ’80s real-estate magnate, he refused to apologize for his incompetence, and came off more confident than the convicted scam artists of that era. He disappeared, for a stretch, then was resurrected by "reality" TV for his signature line in our period: "you’re fired!" (For months, a co-worker kept repeating that line to me, and I didn’t understand what it meant; I thought I was being threatened. As a genial and cowardly person, I said nothing in return; it took me a while to realize the co-worker was trying to be funny.)

    The Ryans, the Rands, the Palins can all pretend they appeal to right-wingers because of their supposed legislative accomplishments. Trump speaks to what they really stand for. He’s done nothing, he is nothing. He’s a bully, and a rich one. In their hearts, they know that this is who they are . . . or, far more sadly, who they want to become.

  2. @JMF – A lot of conservatives I talk to are impressed with Trump. They see him as a self-made man with vision. The funny thing is that Trump is not a self-made man and he has no real vision. Golf courses? Please! He inherited hundreds of millions of dollars and has really not done particularly well with that money. What he [i]is[/i] good at is self-promotion. But he is someone conservatives should rightly hate. He is a walking-talking example that if you have a lot of money it’s almost impossible to stop it from growing.

    I saw the clip you mentioned. The host was Alex Wagner (who I’ve heard comes from a very rich family, but I don’t know). She too is cute as a button. And I liked her dialog with the clips.

    Trump was saying that if the undocumented workers became citizens they would vote for the Democrats. This is largely correct. But look at what he’s offering up: this policy will be bad for our political party, so let’s not do it. If the Republicans did what was best for the country, maybe more of those people would vote for them. Regardless: that’s the kind of craven thinking we always get from Trump. Again: conservatives should hate that, but instead they eat it up.

  3. I get, though I am thoroughly disheartened by, poor people who look up to and try to emulate detritus like Trump. They want to better their lives, they can see no community means of doing so (no unions, anymore), so they believe that adopting the habits/thoughts of successful people is a step in the right direction. Which is why one sees poor people on the bus reading Ayn Rand. It’s pure fantasy on their part, but I understand it.

    I do not get intelligent people I know/have known who buy into this madness. Sure, doing so makes them a lot of money. Aren’t they skilled enough, aren’t their resumes good enough, to do something somewhat less evil, where you don’t have to toe the company line about murder and mayhem being creative forces of freedom? Couldn’t they make $75K at a simple little community bank instead of $150K at a hedge fund? All I can think when I regard these people is "you are utterly wasting your lives." Which, coming from me, is a serious slur. I am nobody’s idea of a success — but I’ve never poisoned a watershed or outsourced anyone’s job, which is something.

    Our crapasstastic American value system wastes useful abilities of the rich as well as the poor.

  4. @JMF – I try to remember that other people aren’t like me. My ideal life would be just hanging out, reading, cooking. That’s about it. I really have to work at seeing that this isn’t the life most people would like.

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