On 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:
Yep: that’s the Republican vision for our future!
Disconcertingly, Matt Miller ended the article by asking:
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.