Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Budget Blather

David Brooks is the gift that keeps on giving. Here he goes on about the new Republican budget proposal:
The country lacked that leadership until today. Today, Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, is scheduled to release the most comprehensive and most courageous budget reform proposal any of us have seen in our lifetimes. Ryan is expected to leap into the vacuum left by the president’s passivity. The Ryan budget will not be enacted this year, but it will immediately reframe the domestic policy debate.
His proposal will set the standard of seriousness for anybody who wants to play in this discussion. It will become the 2012 Republican platform, no matter who is the nominee. Any candidate hoping to win that nomination will have to be able to talk about government programs with this degree of specificity, so it will improve the G.O.P. primary race.
The Ryan proposal will help settle the fight over the government shutdown and the 2011 budget because it will remind everybody that the real argument is not about cutting a few billion here or there. It is about the underlying architecture of domestic programs in 2012 and beyond.

Bolds are mine, to point out how our David tries to hoodwink us. Note that a budget has two sides: The money coming in and the money coming out. We are asked to ignore what is supposed to happen to the revenue side of the Ryan proposal altogether. Thus, "serious" and "courageous" people will only study the expenditure side!

And only the domestic expenditure side! War budgets are not to be touched. And no, the defense cuts the Ryan proposal includes are not real ones. They are cuts compared to what was at first asked. Thus, "courageous" people will ONLY discuss cuts in domestic programs, nothing else!

What a good thing that I'm a non-serious coward, because then I can point out that the defense budget is also humongous and could easily be pared down, what with most of the world not being able to match the current US spending. And I can point out that the Ryan budget benefits the top one percent of earners in this country, asking nothing from them in terms of austerity and in fact offering them permanent tax reductions. It's the rest of us who are asked to tighten our belts.

I certainly hope that Brooks is wrong about all this reframing the conversation on future budgets. Unless Americans really want a feudal society where upward movement is impossible and where the richest of all are given the kind of freedom form taxes the European aristocrats used to have.