Government Spending

Paul Ryan: Radical or Sellout?

The GOP's rising fiscal policy star is too cautious for radical economic reform yet too radical for his own party.


PAUL RYAN, free market extremist: With an economics degree in his pocket and small-government conservatism in his blood—Calvin Coolidge appointed his grandfather as a U.S. attorney—Wisconsin's Paul Ryan rose quickly from Jack Kemp acolyte to ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee before the age of 40. A supply-sider and deficit hawk, Ryan is the author of the GOP's only Congressional Budget Office–certified "road map" to balance the budget and eliminate the long-term deficit. His proposal calls for politically courageous cuts to beloved entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid—cuts so drastic that New York Times contributor James Kwak summarized their effects under the headline: "People will die." Ryan has argued that the central battle in American politics is between "individualism and collectivism" and said, "The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand."

Paul Ryan, free market sellout: Ryan voted in favor of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the widely despised bank bailout. He also endorsed the taxpayer-funded auto bailout, citing "mounting hardships" in a part of his state once dominated by carmakers. His ballyhooed spending plan is so incrementalist that it wouldn't balance the budget until 2063. And this year, while defending his policies to The New York Times, the congressman declared, "I'm not trying to win an award from the Cato Institute."

Which of these two snapshots represents the real Ryan? They both do.

Paul Ryan is one of the staunchest and most serious small-government advocates in Congress today, a policy innovator whose best work tests the convictions of his own party. He's also a savvy Washington politician who defends parochial, home-state interests when necessary. He is a symbol of both the long-term potential for and inevitable limits upon free market reform.

The Cheerful Wonk

When Ryan is in Washington, he and his staff work out of a cramped Capitol Hill suite. Packed with bruised brown bookshelves that have been turned into makeshift partitions between workspaces, the office looks more like a study room in a middle school library. The shelves around the entryway are full of tool kits and toy construction trucks—plastic versions of the tractors, bulldozers, and heavy loaders that are crucial to many of the businesses in Ryan's district. 

It's a perfect collection for someone who likes to both tinker with tiny details and dig into big projects. Ryan comes from a family in the industrial earthmoving trade. The business, now run by his cousins, was started by his grandfather (the one who wasn't a U.S. attorney), and Ryan helped out as a kid. The company's job is to clear away obstructions so the foundations for new enterprises can be laid. That's as good a description as any for Ryan's political goals, both for the GOP and for U.S. domestic policy.

Energetic and athletic (he worked part time as a fitness instructor before running for office and maintains a punishing workout routine), Ryan is surprisingly cheerful for a man who worries constantly about fiscal disaster. Without substantial policy changes, Ryan warns, "entitlements will collapse our economy." And so he has made it his mission to "fix the country's fiscal problem." Many congressmen have sounded warnings about America's precarious fiscal condition over the years. But unlike any other sitting legislator, Republican or Democrat, Ryan has actually put forward a solution—a plan that, at least in theory, could actually work.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which produces Congress' official projections about the long-term fiscal effects of legislation, Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future" would balance the budget by 2063 and reduce Medicare's expected share of the economy from a currently projected 14.3 percent in 2080 to a mere 4 percent. It would also transform Medicare itself, using vouchers to push health care decisions toward the individual as it drastically cuts government spending. It calls as well for a substantial simplification of the tax code and the replacement of the corporate income tax with an 8.5 percent business consumption tax. 

CBO's projections are inherently uncertain—even the most competent economic forecasters can only guess at how the world will change over 50 years, and the plan's revenue assumptions have already come under fire. But Ryan's roadmap is, at the very least, a compelling vision of a fiscally sound future.

It is also a reflection of Ryan's wonky streak. In the 1990s, he worked both for Bill Bennett's conservative policy shop Empower America and as legislative director for Sen. Sam Brownback (R–Kan.). Today, according to his staff, he works out many of the details in his own legislation, a rarity on the Hill. He also brags about being "able to spend lots of time with the actuaries at HHS, with Social Security and CBO."

 In short, Ryan is as passionate about policy details as he is about his broader principles. That's the combination that produced the roadmap. "I look at numbers, and I have deeply held principles and beliefs," he says. "And all of those are on a collision course."

A Test for Republicans

It's not surprising that Democrats are indifferent to Ryan's ideas. But the Republican establishment hasn't been eager to embrace them either.

The modern GOP isn't known for its devotion to policy work, and many Republican legislators seem uninterested in Ryan's vision of the country's fiscal future. His proposal, which is actually an update of a plan he initially put forth in 2008, has only nine co-sponsors so far, mostly conservative stalwarts. A number of prominent Republicans, including presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), have explicitly declined to support the plan. Meanwhile, GOP leaders such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have all released statements staunchly opposing cuts to Medicare—the very cuts that are crucial to Ryan's plan. 

Ryan insists that, drastic as his roadmap might look compared to other proposed entitlement reforms, the American people are ready for it. "They know the fiscal situation's bad," he says. "They know this debt is wrong. They know we've got a problem." A March Gallup poll put the rising deficit at the top of America's long-term worries. Yet despite its concerns about government borrowing, the public is deeply attached to Social Security and Medicare. Indeed, scaring seniors with the specter of Medicare cuts was one of the Republican Party's most potent attacks against the Democrats' health care proposals. From a purely electoral perspective, Ryan's plan may be more of a liability for the GOP than an asset.

Republicans are expected to see significant electoral gains in 2010, and those gains are likely to come amid boisterous criticism of President Barack Obama's deficit spending and health care overhaul. Yet few GOP legislators are willing to point to specific programs they'd like to cut, much less draw up a long-term solution to the country's budgetary woes. Ryan's controversial attempt to do just that creates a potentially awkward situation for the GOP, which has been largely content to criticize Obama without offering a substantive agenda of its own.

Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution, says Ryan's roadmap offers "one of the few serious plans in Washington." Yet he suspects that "it is far too serious for today's Republicans."

It is serious enough for Obama, however. In a nationally televised exchange with House Republicans this past January, the president went out of his way to call Ryan's proposal "a serious plan." The White House has sometimes seemed more eager than Ryan's fellow Republicans to play up the roadmap. In addition to Obama's attentions, White House budget director Peter Orszag discussed Ryan's proposal in detail during a recent meeting of the House Budget Committee, saying at one point that "it does address our long-term fiscal problem," though in a way that "many policymakers might find objectionable." That's probably why the administration has been so kind to it: It's better for Democrats if Ryan's entitlement-slashing overhaul is seen as the official Republican approach.

But it's not the Republican approach; it's Ryan's, a fact his office has been forced to highlight. One canned response by Ryan's staff to critics reads, "A Roadmap for America's Future is a legislative reform proposal offered by Congressman Paul Ryan. It is not the Republican budget." It may not be clear what a Republican budget would entail right now, but it's a fair bet that it would neither eliminate the deficit nor cut Medicare significantly. 

Ryan's plan forces the Republican Party to decide whether it's willing to stand by the fiscally conservative principles it so often espouses. "The Ryan roadmap is a test," says Tanner, "and right now the Republican Party is failing it."

Defining Radical Down

In the current political climate, Ryan's plan will never pass. It is not merely too radical for the Democrats; it is too radical for the Republicans. But to be too radical for the party that championed an unfunded prescription drug benefit in 2003 and rang up massive deficits while in power, one need not be radical at all.

Ryan's reputation as an extremist is based on the standards of the modern-day political mainstream. It may say more about the state of U.S. politics than it does about the congressman from Wisconsin. In a saner world, a civil, even-tempered numbers geek like Ryan wouldn't find his plans relegated to the policy fringe. Nor would anyone mistake him for a libertarian purist. He did, after all, back the bank and auto bailouts. He isn't averse to local pork either, having nabbed a $750,000 earmark for his hometown transit system in 2007.

Ryan defends his vote for TARP with a variation on George W. Bush's line that the free market had to be sacrificed in order to save it. "I believe we were on the cusp of a deflationary spiral which would have created a depression," he said in an interview with The Daily Caller in February. "If we would have allowed that to happen, I think we would have had a big government agenda sweeping through this country so fast that we wouldn't have recovered from it."

Similarly, he argues that his vote for the auto bailout was intended to stop an even worse policy from emerging instead. "The president's chief of staff made it extremely clear to me before the vote," he says. "Either the auto companies get the money that was put in the Energy Department for them already—a bill that I voted against because I didn't want to give them that money, which was only within the $25 billion, money that was already expended but not obligated—or the president was going to give them TARP, with no limit." But, he laments, that's exactly what ended up happening.

If Ryan displays signs of an overarching philosophy, it might be described as "do everything you can, but also do what you must." You can see it in his votes, and you can even hear it in the gentle way he argues for his budget overhaul: The nation's fiscal situation may be dire, he says, but it can be fixed "in a smart and compassionate way. We're not taking anything away from people who are on Medicare and Social Security."

No politician's record is pure. Perhaps it isn't reasonable to expect anything different, since politics is the business of compromise. For advocates of limited government, Ryan remains one of the most important allies in Congress. But those advocates can't help but notice that the best hope for fiscal responsibility and free market reform is a plan to balance the budget 50 years from now that will never, ever pass.

Ryan claims victory just for showing "you can put these ideas out there and you can survive." Survive, yes, but thrive? Asked directly about his plan's political prospects, he pauses for an unusually long time, then shrugs and smiles, as if to welcome both the uncertainty and the challenge. "When I have it all figured out," he says, "I'll let you know." 

Peter Suderman ( is an associate editor at reason.

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  1. Here in Wisconsin, there’s a lot of talk about Paul Ryan this spring. We also talk a lot about spreading cow shit around the fields, so it only seems natural.

    1. Wisconsin Democrats are also pushing a bill that would automatically register someone’s information with the state’s election agency when they renew their drivers license. One would imagine that could lead to ineligible voters being put into a statewide registry. Another part of the plan would let people register online without a signature. That’s great news for the Democrats, since a signature is one of the last remaining things that we’re able to utilize that helps investigate and prosecute voter fraud.

  2. For all of his faults, Ryan has been one of the few voices out there who are standing at the gate yelling STOP! as Obama continues to destroy any semblance of financial sanity.

    His performance at the Health Care Summit was excellent, and no one has been able to refute his argument about the costs of Obamacare. Indeed, the more it plays out the more his argument proves itself.

    He ain’t perfect, but we don’t exactly have a ton of options when it comes to fiscally conservative candidates.

  3. Ryan, to his credit, is one of the few GOPers who is not wafting into the SoCon shit full-time.

    He acts like he is actually ashamed of the Evangelical boy buttfuckers out there who make up the conservative “base”.

    He gets the shrike “seal of approval” award — which consists of a tattered copy of Vonnegut’s ‘Breakfast of Champions’.

    1. shriek likes him. ’nuff said

      1. It’s a trap! Why would shrike say anything kind to anyone right-of-center?

        1. He’s not. He’s defining the right of center as the social con hypocrites he (and the rest of us) hate. He’ll never concede that most of the social cons may be sinners, but they recognize they are and want the government to stop applauding the sin and spending money (Mapplethorpe art, money for welfare brood mares for each kid they push out, diversity police telling us we have to photograph the “wedding”, etc., ad nauseam, ad infinitum, ad infinitum nauseam) to support the sin.

          This is where a lot of social cons meet the Tea Party: we understand that you won’t fund our agenda, but at least you won’t fund the other side’s like the Copperheads and RINOs will. Good enough.

    2. Ugh. I hate Breakfast of Champions. Mother Night, on the other hand, is off the hook.

      1. I liked it. If I recall correctly, Vonnegut himself considered it his worst book, though.

      2. Cat’s Cradle, bitches

    3. I never knew Barney Frank was a Protestant.

  4. If you actually read Ryan’s “Roadmap” plan, it’s only slightly more willing to engage in specifics than traditional fiscal hawk rhetoric. It raises medicare age to 70 and cuts social security payments a little–nothing nearly big enough to deal with the problem. The rest is just claims and pledges about cutting growth and spending freezes. It will just happen, because he says so. No real cutting involved, just a promise of fiscal discipline without specifics, like all spending rhetoric seems to be.

    1. But that is a huge improvement over the GOP status quo.

      He actually has SOMETHING. The rest of the GOP are dickless cowards.

      1. Agreed, but it is Congress, not the Special Olympics. No grading on a curve!

        1. I would imagine there would have to be enough specifics in there to get the grade from the CBO right?

          So, why not go with this (or something very similar ) now, and then adjust as needed later.

          No matter what, it’s going to be a tough roe to hoe. The economics of an ageing populatio are not pretty.

          1. Amity Schlaes looked at it and found that Ryan “got the grade” from the CBO the same way Obamacare did. He fed them bogus assumptions so the numbers would work out in his favor.

            Paul Ryan’s problem isn’t that he is too radical for the GOP. The problem is that he is not radical at all. You cannot inspire people with a plan to tweak the welfare state a little bit to keep it solvent.

            If you want to inspire people, you go full hard-core radical and demand abolition of the entitlement programs. There is already chatter to that effect. Why would anyone give a compromiser a second glance?

        2. As if you’ve passed any other way. Or graded the Copperhead agenda any other way either.

    2. Weak, even for you. It’s a proposal. I’ve not heard of anyone else on either side proposing anything to address this issue.

    3. It is funny you are bitching about Ryan’s plan when the Dems and Obama’s plan is a carbon copy of Zimbabwe’s print money until you inflate your way out of debt and lower the standard of living for everyone who is dumb enough to hold onto cash.

      Anyway i guess we can all be a little happy that this will not play out well for the left. Just to be clear it will not be worth it.

      What a waste.

  5. The modern GOP isn’t known for its devotion to policy work, and many Republican legislators seem uninterested in Ryan’s vision of the country’s fiscal future.

    A majority of those Republican legislators were concerned enough about the future to vote against TARP and the auto bailouts. Ryan sounds like a fine candidate to reach across the aisle and cosponsor a VAT.

    1. Yes, I believe a VAT was part of his Roadmap as well.

  6. Paul Ryan, a true fiscal conservative who voted for TARP

    1. I defend his vote on TARP.

      If the non-bank disasters known as AIG and FNM/FRE were not poisoning it TARP would turn a profit and helped avert disaster for millions of depositors.

        1. I acknowledged the sinkhole of FNM/FRE earlier.

          But the Feds have backed their bonds (implicitly) for 40-50 years.

          Its cheaper to pump $150 billion into them than to cover the bonds.

          1. I don’t know if you understand that every dollar in your pocket is now worth about 60 cents.

            You will by years end.

            And you will know it was not cheaper.

  7. Unfortunately all Republicans are required to sign Grover Norquist’s “no taxes ever” pledge in blood if they ever hope to win or keep their job.

    Essentially our country is being held hostage by one man who wants to forcible remake it into his anarchic utopia without having to bother with pesky things like democratic deliberation, just overt threats against any politician not willing to join his crusade to destroy the country through fiscal terrorism.

    1. God bless Grover Norquist.

      1. I signed that pledge when I ran for state rep. Proudly, I might add.

        So, I guess that makes me a “fiscal terrorist”, eh, Tony? Because we can just increase spending, year after year. Right?

        1. BTW, I used an ink pen. Nobody said anything about blood, so stop with the idiotic references, eh, Tony?

          Would be nice to see you rationally explain why it’s a bad idea, though.

          1. Because there is absolutely no way to make the country solvent without raising some taxes. It can’t be done just by cutting spending. Norquist wants to abolish entitlement programs, but knowing that no political coalition will ever go along with that, he wants it done by creating a fiscal clusterfuck that he imagines will force us to cut them or die. “Never raise taxes” is just insane dogmatism.

            1. Sure it can. What you mean is it can’t be done by cutting spending that you personally don’t want cut.

            2. This is stupid. Because it’s unpopular to cut spending, we need to raise taxes? Has it occurred to you that it’s also unpopular to raise taxes?

              1. Exactly, and this is precisely why I called Norquist’s mission fiscal terrorism. He doesn’t want solvency, he wants to blow the whole thing up and force the issue.

            3. It can’t be done just by cutting spending.

              Why not?

              1. T,

                You gonna tell a 60 year old who’s been paying into SS all her life that she won’t get the benefits because some jackass wants a second villa on the riviera and a 747 to get there?

                There is far more suffering happening by people depending on entitlement benefits than exists via the tax burden on the wealthy. They want a country that can afford to buy their products and that functions as a modern society? They can pay up.

                1. The aim of the batsmen is to score runs. One of the main cricket rules is that for batsment to score runs they must run to each other’s end of the pitch (from one end to the other). In doing this one run is scored. Cricket rules state they may run multiple runs per shot. As well as running they can also score runs by hitting boundaries. A boundary scores the batsmen either 4 or 6 runs. A four is scored by hitting the ball past the boundary after hitting the groud while a six is scored by hitting the ball past the boundary on the full (before it hits the ground). Cricket rules also state that once a 4 or 6 has been scored any runs physically ran by the batsman are null & void. They will only obtain the 4 or 6 runs.

                2. I wouldn’t go after the poor 60 year olds, but the ones that are planning to go on 8,000 dollar cruises sure don’t need the money. We all pay taxes, often for little direct benefit. They knew this was coming and had every opportunity to reform the system earlier when it was still largely in surplus. That was bad planning on their part. We wouldn’t be cutting that 60 year old’s benefits so that “some Jackass can get a second villa,” but so that some worker making under 20,000 a year wouldn’t have to pay more of his income to someone wealthier than him.

                  “They want a country that can afford to buy their products and that functions as a modern society? They can pay up.”

                  How about they just keep their money, hire more workers, invest in more business, and then we’d all be better off? Your argument is complete nonsense. Transfer payments are the worst way to create a market for goods and services. Once again, if I pay people to dig holes and fill them back up again, their spending will not “stimulate” much of anything, because they are consuming without contributing. More spending + less productivity = inflation or stagnation. Products wouldn’t cost as much if there wasn’t inflationary demand in the system, and they certainly wouldn’t cost as much if producers weren’t taxed to benefit non-producers. There would also be more money AND resources for productive uses, leading to higher outputs and a higher quality of life for everyone. Government taxes and subsidy destroy markets, not create them.

                  1. tkwelge,

                    Agreed that we should reform entitlements for old people who can afford to do without.

                    The rest of your post is standard libertarian boilerplate, which not only do I not agree with, but which has been proven a fraud by the events of reality. Trickle-down has never worked. You are dishonestly conflating wealth-holders with “producers” as if the wealthiest people in this country actually produce anything rather than just engaging in arcane financial gambling.

                    Upper bracket taxes have a long way to go before they become counterproductive.

                    1. Fuck that. the tired old, old, fucking old “hate the rich” bullshit. The rich are rich because they produced something to create wealth. And all but a very few, created wealth for others. Class warriors like you always want to suck the wealth from the rich. They made it, they can spend it as they please without you telling them that it is their duty to give it back to the state.

                    2. I never argued for “trickle down.” That had nothing to do with what I was saying. Your argument was basically a form of government based trickle down. You say that the government should give money to people to provide a market for goods and services, but that is not the best way of creating a productive society. Allowing people to create wealth without the government taking it from them has never worked? That’s complete nonsense. It “works” everyday. You seem to have a twisted view of what makes a society productive. Several countries have driven themselves into an inescapable hole with public works projects and government handouts. I have yet to see a single nation prosper in the long term off of public works and government spending alone. You were basically arguing that it is better for the government to pay people to produce next to nothing rather than have those people be unemployed, and my example of the hole diggers shows just why this doesn’t work. Sure, there are people in government who produce more value than somebody who digs holes and fills them back up again, but seeing as though there is no cost benefit analysis (that doesn’t include the jobs themselves as a benefit) that proves that most government workers are producing more value than they would in the private sector, and such workers are not subject to the constant tests of the market, so it is very possible that most government jobs as they stand today aren’t creating enough real value to make up for the value destroyed.

                      Wealthy people aren’t engaging in “arcane financial gambling.” The financial system plays a very important role in distributing information across an economy in a way that no government agency ever could. Traders on wall street are providing tons of value everyday, in terms of information distribution, and sure there is still a business cycle, but that is unavoidable.

                      Taxing the wealthy is already counter productive, as the wealthy are not tax payers but tax collectors. The wealthy pass on their taxes to us in the form of higher cost goods, less investment, less jobs, longer working hours, and lower pay. All taxes on the wealthy are counter productive in this way. Production itself isn’t the important thing. Value creation is the important thing, and people don’t get wealthy without creating value. And if somebody is born into wealthy, it was because their ancestors created massive amounts of value. Being born with wealth is no guarantee that you will die with it either.

                    3. Is it “trickle down” to argue that the free market creates value? Is it “trickle down” to believe that the creators of wealth should be able to use their money to create even more wealth? When society becomes more productive and innovative, life gets better for everybody, even the desperately poor. The condition of the poor improved dramatically between 1700 and 1900 not because of government, but in SPITE of government, and the poor became much better off by any metric that any ethical person could possibly give a fuck about. Republicans are bull shitters for making the argument that making a rich person richer (through corporate welfare) will benefit society, but when you allow society as a hole to be create more wealth and compete through creative destruction (not guaranteed corporate welfare), that is a trickle down theory that has been proven again and again.

            4. The only problem with your argument is that it ignores reality. Extra Taxes will always lead to increased gubmint spending. Always.

              Spending must be cut.

              1. “You gonna tell a 60 year old who’s been paying into SS all her life that she won’t get the benefits because some jackass wants a second villa on the riviera and a 747 to get there?” Actually I would tell her that she’s going to have to wait till 70 to retire, instead of 65.

                Here’s a look at how much taxes would actually have to be raised to pay for what’s been promised.


              2. JR,

                Spending on what?

                Keep in mind that arguments that don’t take at least broad political reality into account are useless.

                Assuming you’re okay with the concept of taxation (never a guarantee around here), under what circumstances would you be ok with raising taxes?

            5. Tony, you hit the nail on the head.

              Our future deficits are enormous, and only a mixture of cuts and tax increases can realistically solve this.

              Until cry-baby Republicans and Libertarians grow up and accept this, there is no moving forward.

              We aren’t going to raise the retirement age to 75 and cut the military in half, which is the no-new-taxes alternative.

              1. “We aren’t going to raise the retirement age to 75 and cut the military in half, which is the no-new-taxes alternative.”

                Why the hell not? Where is it written that there should be an age where we all have some sort of God given right to sit on our asses, regardless of whether or not we have the money? If you are 65 and have the cash saved to retire in comfort, God bless you and enjoy life from here on out. If you haven’t saved a dime having lived in the most economically powerful nation on Earth, you aren’t entitled to any golden parachute.

                As for the military, I believe in the need for a strong defense, but a strong defense does not mean paying for the security of Germany and Japan, nor does it cover fighting wars all over the damn world. We certainly could cut defense spending quite a lot without much risk to our security here at home…and I’d imagine most Americans would be on board.

              2. I’m a libertarian, and many of us believe that taxes should be raised to at least make people aware of the cost of the programs that they receive. You’ll get no argument from me there, but if we simply raise taxes, government will just expand in the long term, so it is better to at least try to cut spending in conjunction with tax increases now, but to eventually work towards a lower tax, lower spending based system.

                1. Obviously you are NOT a libertarian.

            6. This is the biggest load of shit. Of course it can be done cutting spending. We spend $4 trillion annually. You think if we cut that down to $500 billion, that we wouldn’t balance the budget and retire the debt in a few decades?

              What you don’t want to admit is that those entitlements that you and Chris Matthews love so much are bankrupting this country. The promises of the New Deal and Great Society were the proverbial forbidden fruit. They were empty promises and they need to be ended.

              Time to get a helmet American. The sh*t is about to hit the fan. Got gold?

              1. Time to get a helmet American. The sh*t is about to hit the fan. Got gold?

                It already has.

                Talked to a builder today and he said concrete has gone up 30% over the past 5 months. Lumber, pipe, asphalt fuel…everything is the same story.

                We are fucked today…tomorrow is the Apocalypse.

            7. Unfortunately, historically when taxes were lowered receipts have increased. Until you all acknowledge this fact it’s really not worth arguing with you, as your arguments are more motivated by envy and vague desires for “social justice” than for any real solution.

              And Tony, supply side economics works, and is a vastly more cohesive theory that Keynisanism. The benefits of Keynsianism are only short term… really the only thing it has going for it is that the policies it proscribes suit the objectives of big government tyrants perfectly.

              1. @Vinny,

                The Laffer curve is not a certainity, it only works if taxes are high enough that they are discouraging enough activity that their lowering can result in higher revenue. This is NOT a given, it depends on the specifics of the situation.

                When Regan lowered taxes they were MUCH higher than they are now. It’s doubtful that current levels of tax rates would see additional revenue by lowering rates. Note that when Clinton raises rates, revenues increases as well.

                As for Kenynsian, no one has ever actually used it. Kenysian requires that as the economy recovers that debt is paid down with surpluses. It’s quite likely that Keynsian works fine. We’ve just been ignoring the other side of the equation.

            8. To the contrary. There is NO WAY to make the country solvent BY raising taxes at this point. Our cost of government went from 54% to 61% of our GDP in just one year, and if we are not already at 2/3 of our economy being consumed by government, we will be shortly. (Cost of gov’t= all taxes, direct and indirect, plus those costs mandated by government but paid to private entities) And now Boomers like me are retiring, and we face unfunded liabilities that will essentially require doubling the tax rate if we are to fulfill them all. This will raise the cost of government to more than 100% of our economy. How is that going to work out? The real fiscal terrorists are already in place. They are those who REFUSE to see the fiscal reality that the current system is unsustainable, that cuts MUST be made, or we will ALL live poorer. The longer we put off the day of reckoning, the worse things will be, and yes, the more people will die BECAUSE of government ineptitude and corruption.

    2. You’re such a drama queen. If Glenn Greenwald could get the Democrats to sign on for “no increase in defense spending” or something similar, you’d be all a-twitter about involvement in government, public service, you cynical libertarians, etc. Flip the aisle, and suddenly one man is holding hostage the entire Yoo-nited States Government! Oh noes!

      FWIW, Republicans raise taxes all the time, by deficit spending. A spending freeze would be much better.

      1. I would never support blanket pledges of any kind. Obviously we should cut defense spending. But we might need to raise it in a time of war (and taxes alongside). I’m for government being as big as it needs to be to deal with the issues it needs to deal with. Sometimes that even means deficit spending.

        But those who already hold all the wealth have invented a fairy tale in which giving them everything they want, including cushy gilded age tax rates, equals a prosperous society, and they’ve held policymakers hostage to it.

        1. Test cricket is a game that spans over two innings. This means that one team needs to bowl the other team out twice and score more runs then them to win the match. Another key difference between test cricket and other forms of cricket is the length of the innings. In test cricket there is no limit to the innings length. Whereas in one day cricket & Twenty20 cricket there are a certain amount of overs per innings. The only limits in test cricket is a 5 day length. Before the game begins an official will toss a coin. The captain who guesses the correct side of the coin will then choose if they want to bat or field first. One team will then bat while the other will bowl & field. The aim of the batting team is to score runs while the aim of the fielding team is to bowl ten people out and close the batting teams’ innings. Although there are eleven people in each team only ten people need to be bowled out as you cannot have one person batting alone. Batting is done in pairs.

          1. I bet you are really popular at parties.

        2. Gilded age tax rates? Site pls.

        3. I would never support blanket pledges of any kind.

          Including “The United States does not and will not torture.”? C’mon, be serious.

          I’m for government being as big as it needs to be to deal with the issues it needs to deal with.

          And when bigness is the problem…?

          But those who already hold all the wealth have invented a fairy tale in which giving them everything they want, including cushy gilded age tax rates, equals a prosperous society, and they’ve held policymakers hostage to it.

          Rich people love big government. They make a mint off it.

          1. Including “The United States does not and will not torture.”? C’mon, be serious.

            I mean about taxation and spending. There is no sacred level.

            And when bigness is the problem…?

            Empty nonsense. What do you mean bigness is the problem? Just cut the crap and say which programs you want to get rid of and why.

            Rich people love big government. They make a mint off it.

            They like paying as little in taxes as possible, just like everyone else. Which means they don’t like Big IRS, that’s for sure.

            You guys can’t keep getting away with bitching about big government without saying what you’re specifically referring to. Most likely any one of us will want to increase or decrease specific elements of government to get to our preferred version.

            This is the problem with Paul Ryan and all conservative fiscal hawks, libertarians being the worst offenders of all. They are attacking a bogeyman, and they don’t feel the need to speak about specifics for fear of offending their OCD or their market gods or whatever is causing the need for purity of thought on fiscal issues.

            1. * Department of Education – gone tomorrow
              * Social Security and Medicare – phase out
              * Defense – scale back to 75% of today
              * Department of Agriculture – gone
              * Department of Commerce – scale to 1/3 of today

              I’m sure there’s more, gimme time.

              1. And when millions of eldery lie starving on the streets, no longer capable of earning their bread as Wal-Mart greeters, what is your plan?

                When WWIII breaks out and we have to spend ten times as much cleaning up the mess as we would have preventing it, whose taxes are you going to raise?

                When you remove the ed department, whose state taxes are you going to raise, in order to generate the revenue to pay for the necessary programs the feds pay for?

                I doubt you even have half a clue what ag and commerce spend their money on. It isn’t just ag subsidies (which yes, should be eliminated).

                1. Cut the dramatics please. Seriously. Old people have never been “dying in the streets”, even before Medicare began. There is no likelihood of World War III breaking out. I’ll be delighted to hear your arguments against ending social security and medicare or cutting defense, but please don’t lapse into this sort of hysteric bleating.

                  As for the department of education, the thing was enacted in the 1970s! It hasn’t been around since the Mayflower…our schools did pretty well without it for most of the twentieth century. In fact, by any measure I can think of schools are worse in terms of producing educated graduates than they were before it started. I’d challenge you to name any significant “necessary programs” the department of ed. runs.

                  1. The ed department’s two major spending focuses are special ed and grants to fix schools, particularly in poor areas. Back in your imagined golden era, we treated these people like dogs, frankly.

                    There is little likelyhood of WWIII precisely because we play supercop. We can give up that role once we create a world that doesn’t need such an entity, and if we follow your policies (or that of the neocons), that will never happen.

                    I am not exaggerating at all about SS and Medicare, which for many millions of Americans, are the only thing they have. What is your plan for these people? To pretend it magically won’t happen anymore? To pray to the tooth fairy, and ask her to leave lots of money under the pillows of elderly whose teeth fall out due to malnutrition? Let the orders-of-magnitude-too-small private charities handle it? Expect women to quit their jobs and stay home to take care of grandma? Seriously. What is your plan?

                    1. “What is your plan for these people? To pretend it magically won’t happen anymore?”

                      First of all, he said he would “phase-out” those abominations (SS and Medicare) which would probably mean, assholes under 40 wouldn’t get shit when they hit 70. Fine by me, I don’t have shit now, so it’s not like I’ll have any less. Second, there actually used to be a time when people could afford to take care of the elderly on their own. In fact, it was practically a cultural prerogative. Maybe instead of shipping grandma off to a home at an exorbitant cost, you could have her cared for in your house for a fraction of that. On the flip-side, if you were an asshole to friends and family your whole life, don’t be surprised when you actually do starve in the streets, a testament to why you shouldn’t be a cantankerous piece of shit your entire life. Third, people should be inundated with information about SAVING and PLANNING for things like how your body will inevitably fall apart. Personally, this information came from my mother whose savings have been destroyed by credit card debt. Her financial situation plus her tales of woe have taught important lessons about credit, and I how I want very little to do with it unless I am investing in something big.

                      But on some level you’re right. People are fucked because for generations we have been trying live in a way that is not sustainable. People have been told that their golden parachute will save them, and when it is taken away, they will riot and/or die in the streets. Moreover, nobody wants to work at McDonalds, in a factory, in a mine, etc. etc. Why should we have to endure the horrible hardships of boring lower-middle class life? Why should anybody have to utter “would you like fries with that” for 40 years while forgoing luxuries like new cars, a large house, a large television, hookers etc? It’s just so “unfair” and “unjust” to ask people to live within their means. Ultimately, there is no way out. There will be a lot of pain in the near future, or a hell of a lot more pain in 2050 when roving gangs of drug-fuelled laser-wielding teenagers wreak havoc because they’ll have nothing better to do (spending on entitlements will outlast spending on education/babysitting). At some point, I’m going to eat a bullet so I don’t have to deal with any of this shit. Perhaps Hunter S. Thompson had something there.

                    2. “The ed department’s two major spending focuses are special ed and grants to fix schools, particularly in poor areas. Back in your imagined golden era, we treated these people like dogs, frankly.”

                      Really, we treated people with learning disabilities like dogs? My father has a learning disability. He’s dyslexic. He grew up in a time when there was no special ed. You know how he dealt with it? He sucked it up, took his time, double-checked his work, and made sure he didn’t make any mistakes. He ended up with an engineering degree from Princeton and a highly paying job. In today’s world, he would have been thrown in a “special needs” class, never challenged to live up to his potential, and would have ended up lower middle class at best.

                    3. “There is little likelyhood of WWIII precisely because we play supercop. We can give up that role once we create a world that doesn’t need such an entity, and if we follow your policies (or that of the neocons), that will never happen.”

                      No, the biggest reason WWIII is unlikely to happen is nuclear weapons and mutually assured destruction, combined with economic interdependency between the world’s major powers. Us playing “supercop” is actually one of our major problems, as the rewards are far outstripped by the complications and unintended consequences.

                      As for us creating a world that doesn’t need a supercop, I’d submit we’re in that world now. Your absolute arrogance in thinking that we are in any position to create a world of any type is emblematic of the attitude that has caused many of our problems. We can’t force other countries, or even our own citizenry, to act the way we wish simply because we think it’s a great idea.

              2. I’d vote for you tomorrow.

                1. this love letter was directed at Jeffersonian

            2. End the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
              Disarm the nukes.
              Drastically reduce bases and military personnel.
              Raise the retirement/Medicare age to 70.
              Repeal Obamacare.
              Repeal the Republican drug benefit.
              Repeal NCLB.
              End the war on drugs.
              End farm subsidies.
              End the bailouts.
              Audit the Fed, probably end it.

              I’m sure there’s lots else I’m missing. None of these are popular ideas, but neither are dramatic tax increases, and tax increases bring the danger of “hey, reduced deficit, let’s spend more!”

              As for rich people loving big government, I’m not talking about their tax rates. Dig into some of the Big Business/Big Government rip-off genre, Tim Carney from the right and Gabriel Kolko from the left.

              1. You forgot “open the borders.” If we’re giving the Mexican drug cartel unfettered access to their greatest market, just wave them on over. The coke you snort was never up the ass of a pregnant, underage drug mule then.

    3. Yeah, Obama really is a dickhead, isn’t he.

    4. The utopia is very orderly, but you need anarchy to get there. It’s like:

      1. Cloward-Piven
      2. ?
      3. UNICORNS!

    5. Looking at this article over a year later, it is interesting that Tony was the first person to refer to a Republican as a practitioner of “…terrorism…” who is holding the country “hostage.”

  8. No one who voted for the bailouts can ever be trusted. Ever. EVER.

    And his “Roadmap” calls for replacing SS with individual accounts that are *protected against market losses*. That is so terrifying an exercise in moral hazard that it seems likely to be passable in Congress.


  9. Yeah, I seem to remember the Nelsons, Feingolds and Proxmires. You would seem to be able to recognize shit when you see it, fer sure.

  10. The Libertarian movement is so politically powerless that guys like Ryan are going to be the best we can hope to see elected in any meaningful numbers for a long long time.

    1. Agreed. Anything approaching fiscal discipline is all I’m looking for in political candidates.

  11. You left out the part where he’s really good looking.

  12. Ryan is a mental dwarf amongst midgets.

  13. 10 Things You Should Never Say to a Lesbian…..i-dowling/

  14. Any long term health care proposal/deficit reduction package is going to have to involve reforms to medicare and SS. The federal government spends over 800 billion a year on medicare, and much of that goes to seniors who could probably afford their own care. Also, many seniors would also be in a better position to take care of themselves, had they not been forced to put a substantial part of their income into these programs for their entire lives, and the children of these seniors would be in a better position to care for them in their old age if they too weren’t forced to contribute to the same system. Add in the negative employment effects of payroll taxes, and medicare and SS benefits are outweighed by the costs. The only thing that keeps these programs going is the fact that everybody is waiting to get theirs, and feels as if all of their previous contributions would become meaningless. To that I argue the point that their contributions have already been made meaningless as the benefits of SS and medicare are paltry, and everybody under the age of 50 isn’t even planning on these programs to take care of them, because they know the benefits are only a drop in the bucket. As I’ve said before, if we keep every government program going simply because “we’ve been paying into it so long,” no government project would ever end. You’ve been taxed for a failed program. NOw we are ending the tax, and the program, so that we can all move on with our lives. What if Microsoft kept dumping money into an expensive project, simply “because we’ve already spent so much money on it?” They would go out of business!

    To me, it just doesn’t seem that hard to cut the budget. First, roll back defense spending by at least twenty percent. Second, reform SS and Medicare so that they are based around helping the poorest seniors, rather than all of them. Any cost savings from medicare reforms should largely go towards vouchers for health care that would return consumer sanity to the health care market. A national health care proposal should also include reforms that would incorporate medicare revenues, and seniors should be brought into the national healthcare system rather than having a dual national health care system with medicare recipients on one side and everyone else on the other. That pretty much just leaves future spending and pork barrel spending. Cutting pork barrel spending is something that can only be controlled by the will of congressman, so for the rest of the budget reforms, I would focus on future spending programs. All future spending programs should have to include failure standards (outlining at which point a program can be announced to be a failure and how it would be dismantled) and cost benefit analysis, and all spending programs should be prioritized with an outline of what should be cut first in the event of a need for cuts. All future spending should be required to be submitted to four year audits, and each programs budgets should be determined by these audits as well as a system of prioritization. New spending should largely come from cuts to older, failed programs.

    1. Overall very reasonable suggetions, that tie fairly well with the Peterson foundation.

      I would add though, that one of best things to do for SS, is to simply move the retirement age up a couple of years, and then index it to life expectancy.

      1. Agreed, except, I would move the SS/medicare eligibility age up more than a couple years to age 73 (currently 5 years less than life expectancy), then peg it to life expectancy minus 5 years. Those programs should be thought of as “last few years of life in case your retirement runs out” programs instead of retirement programs themselves. That’s what they originally were, then people started living a lot longer.

        1. You don’t know any 70-73 year olds, do you.

          You are fundamentally mistaken if you think there is a 1:1 relationship between increasing life expectancy and an increase in the time which working is viable. Much of the gains in life expectancy are the prevention of premature deaths, and have nothing to do with making 70 year olds much more vigorous than they once were.

          There is no viable way to move the retirement age past 70 unless radical new technology is developed.

          1. At an old job I knew a 73 year-old who worked harder than most people there while napping for 4 hours a day. In the end, he died at his desk because he never wanted to retire. Oh and he had hacking emphysema and still came in to work despite our pleas that he think about his health, etc. etc. On top of all of that, he had a huge amount of money saved up for some reason (hopefully his wife got something after the Chads of the world desiccated his nest egg).

            Another anecdote: my grandfather died at 72 of a heart attack after leaving a construction site, yelling at some bureaucrat via a phone for taking his driver’s license away. The man had 2 strokes and 3 heart-attacks before that, ate bacon every day, and paid for his health-care with cash. I’m sure his corpse could kick the shit out of 90% of the bullshit pussy generation this nation has fostered in the last 20 years (including my dumb-ass self).

            1. My grandparents were still teaching well after 65, and even now at 80+ my Grandpa goes prison ministry, and my Grandma records things like books for the blind.

              Can a 70 year old do construction, maybe not. But most of them are fine for office jobs.

      2. Ideally we’d phase social security out, completely. Do the math, the benefits of SS and Medicare are far less than if you put that 15% of your income into even a modest CD for that same 55 year period, even if you only make 20 grand a year for your entire life. SS and medicare are a complete failure on every count ALREADY. And we saw this coming for decades, so the fact that we are just now getting around to solving this problem is criminal. Inching up the retirement age is just going to make the program even more of a failure, so the only solution is to end it outright, or at least phase it out.

        1. I can agree with this, but it’s a radioactive issue to privatize SS. Nonetheless, you still need to consider what to do with the people who live to be 90+ years old and are racking up medical bills, etc.
          That could drain even a rich person’s savings and investments.

          1. Perhaps people should decide that they would rather die and leave a couple hundred thousand behind, than live another 4 years and leave nothing behind? This is why assuming a long life is a public good. Where do you draw the line?

          2. “… but it’s a radioactive issue to privatize SS.”

            It wouldn’t be, if more voters understood that it’s gone. Now it’s just an accounting gimmick, that fabled Clinton surplus.

  15. The Paul Ryan Rehabilitation Tour continues in earnest along with the rationalization of his TARP vote by Congressman Ryan & his supporters.

    His TARP vote does matter and anything that he says regarding the issues of small, limited government are negated by this one vote.

    This guys arrogance and lack of shame has no bounds.

    1. Whether in hind sight the TARP was a good idea or not, at the time there were a number of people that were very concerned that without the TARP, we could end up with another great depression or worse. So, they decided to hold there nose and vote for it. A decision I probably would have made as well.

      The fact is, we had long passed the point where market forces could be allowed to safely act. Banks had been allowed to get to big, with too much leverage. Much better to save the economy now, and then break up the banks latter. (of course we are still waiting for the last part to happen).

      We should never forget that mises economics requires some VERY painful economic adjustments that most people are simply not willing to allow to happen.

      1. We should never forget that mises economics requires some VERY painful economic adjustments that most people are simply not willing to allow to happen.

        Make them now or make even more painful ones later. The upside is that the pain prevents bad action for a couple of generations with no government impetus necessary.

      2. As I’ve argued with several Mises types. You can’t claim to be Austrian and predict doom and then turn around and say all the scary scenarios that pushed TARP through were bogus, that the economy would not have collapsed.
        Several, of course, will admit that they welcomed economic collapse as that would “show them.” What would have been the likely outcome, then?
        A resurgence of Misean economics and small government constitutional liberty? Or mobs clamoring for some strong man to step in and take charge?
        I fear it is far too late to salvage any sort of liberty from an economic collapse as predicted by Austrian economics.

      3. I’m inclined to agree with this. When you’ve already got a financial system that is so tainted by gov’t (Fannie, Freddie, Bernanke, Greenspan, odd tax incentives, fiat currency, threats to banks of redlining, Community Reinvestment Act, etc.), it’s very difficult to suddenly administer
        “market discipline” without hurting a lot of innocent bystanders.

        It would be akin to suddenly yanking all Social-Security/Medicare payments to anyone under 73, “Sorry, the market says we can’t afford you any more. Get back to work.”

        People had planned their lives around and were/are working within the framework of that (admittedly, faulty) system just like the recipients of SS/Medicare are in that system.

        I realize the above is a very mushy argument. One that I hate, in fact. Nonetheless it is a legitimate one.

        1. I don’t think it’s that mushy. When you change the rules that people live by, if possible you should give them enough time to plan for the adjustments.

  16. And please note folks, that Ryan’s plan to balance the budget does NOT include his tax cuts, which were not included in the scoring.

    So yes, his absolutely and utterly impossible to implement spending cuts MIGHT balance the budget IF no policy changes AND fifty years’ worth of guesses and extrapolations are accurate.

    lol rofl lmao yeah right

    1. It’s a start though isn’t it??? Is there anyone else that has submitted a plan that actually results in a balanced long term buget, and prevents runaway inflation/economic collapse of the US, and probably the rest of the world?

      Make no mistake, one way or another these cuts ARE comming. No one likes it, but there are no more good choices. The time for those were 10 years ago, before Bush got in.

      1. Make no mistake, one way or another these cuts ARE comming. No one likes it, but there are no more good choices. The time for those were 10 years ago, before Bush got in.

        I predict the impasse (dems won’t cut spending, reps won’t raise taxes) will result in the default “solution” of printing money. That, of course, will cause inflation and will be the equivalent of a VAT only without the exceptions for food, medicine, etc. It’s “fair” in the sense that everyone will pay (via loss in buying power), but it’s terribly regressive in that it hits the poor much worse than the wealthy.

        Since it’s already been shown that there are not enough “rich people” to sustain the current entitlement obligations, Democrats would be wise to choose spending cuts which are less regressive than inflation. I’m not going to hold my breath, though.

        1. I disagree, NAL. Every serious liberal I know understands that we need a mixture of new taxes and major cuts to solve the problem.

          It is the cry-babies on the right, who can’t stand their 15% tax rate and refuse to budge on it, who are the problem.

          1. Riiiiiiiight. We should definitely make taxpayers pay for issues caused by politicians sounding our nation in to a fucking 12 trillion dollar debt.

            I’m not saying that tax hikes should be left off the table, but that’s step 368, and steps 1-367 all require government to stop fucking spending. When they can get that shit in order, then we can talk about tax hikes.

            1. Raising taxes should be step 1, and half of all steps thereafter. Our spending is typical. Our tax rates are not.

              1. We have raised taxes. On the federal, state, and local levels we’ve raised them. And the politicians have never shown any ability to take the surplus money and use it for anything other than increasing spending on their pet programs. Until they show an ability to do this, raising taxes is not going to be a viable solution to our problems.

                I can’t figure out for the life of me why you think our level of spending should be “typical”. Typical of who exactly? Europe? We’re not Europe, nor do most of us want to be. Europe, by the way, doesn’t pay for the defense of Europe. We do.

                Chad, I’ve been around for nearly forty years now and I’ve never seen a tax increase that actually improved what it was supposedly enacted to solve. The fact that you continue to believe that the solution to our problems is more government revenue is quite frankly baffling. You’re like the broke people I used to see when I did financial planning. They all thought the solution to their problems would be that big promotion, winning the lottery, or an inheritance. What they never wanted to accept was that the reason they were broke had everything to do with their patterns of spending behavior and not much with how much money they made. It seems to me you need to learn that same lesson on behalf of your government.

                1. Contrarian P,

                  What was the last major raise in taxes?

                  1. The last major raise in taxes I saw was in my home state. Supposed to fix education. Didn’t. At all.

                2. For every tax we have raised, we have cut several. Get some facts, dude. Federal taxes are around the lowest they have been in generations, and state/local low as well. This is despite the obvious fact that the government is paying for larger shares of our retirement and medical care than in the past, both of which are expensive . This crowds out spending on everything else, which is why our transit systems are a joke and we can’t find the time to regulate banks.

                  Note that our increased spending on retirement and health is more or less a wash. If SS were to disappear tomorrow, would I be any better off? As a 30-something high earner, the answer is “not very much”. 1/3 of my planned retirement would disappear, requiring me to put an extra 10% or so of my money into my retirement accounts. Mathematically, I would come out mildly ahead, because a small fraction of my money is used to subsidize the poor. For people in the bottom sixty percent, they would come out behind, as they would lose the subsidies I am giving them. Those in the bottom third would basically be stuck working until they feel over dead. You know what, I don’t begrudge a nickle of the couple percent of my income that is essentially handed to the poor via SS. The fact that you do only proves what a sociopath you are.

                  1. “I don’t begrudge a nickle of the couple percent of my income that is essentially handed to the poor via SS. The fact that you do only proves what a sociopath you are.”

                    Pardon me, but when did I utter a word about Social Security exactly? But for the record, it is an abominable program that is nothing more than a sanctioned Ponzi scheme. If your definition of benefiting the poor is to put into place a regressive tax to fund a program that will pay a terrible rate of return, then you’re damn right I begrudge putting anyone’s money into it. The fact that you wish to continue to contribute to such a program, one that can be shown to be insolvent by anyone with a basic understanding of a calculator and that has not solved poverty in any measurable way, demonstrates delusional behavior, frankly.

              2. So, Let’s run Chad’s tax program
                1. Raise taxes.
                2. Project new revenues from new taxes
                3. Create new programs to be funded by new taxes.
                4. Notice large(r) deficit.
                5. goto 1.

              3. Federal spending continuing to be nearly 24% of GDP through 2020 is not normal. In other words, rather than wind down the additional recession spending after recovery, Obama is proposing that it simply become a new, higher base.

                After the WWII debt was reduced, accumulated federal debt never exceeded 50% of GDP until 2009, when it reached 53 percent. Under Obama’s recommendations it would grow to 77% by 2020.

                Trillion dollar deficits were unthinkable until 2008. We did not elect this stuttering, golfing, waffling, bowing, “let’s go out for cheeseburgers!” idiot to double down on the policies that are driving us steadily toward the cliff. Cut the spending, then we’ll talk about taxes.

              4. This is because you believe that the government should handle this and make it better, no one here is going to buy that. Exept tony

      2. Submitting a plan that has no chance of being implemented (hell, even most Republicans won’t touch it), won’t balance the budget for decades (even under heroic assumptions), and deceptively doesn’t include the tax cuts that he prattles about…naah, I don’t think that means much of anything.

        A real plan lies somewhere in the middle: increased retirement age (perhaps 70), medium-term military cuts (holding spending constant before inflation for the foreseeable future), VAT, carbon taxes, etc.

        1. VAT and carbon taxes do nothing for the budget, they are just new favors to be doled out by politicians who are always keeping an eye to reelection. Simony, in other words.

          All of the EU has a VAT. Huge VATs. Germany: 19%. France and Italy: 20%. Most of Scandinavia: 25%. It hasn’t helped them, either.

          …EU president Van Rompuy warned that the bloc risks irrelevance and the end of its expensive welfare programs if it can’t speed up economic growth, forecast to expand by just 1 percent this year.

          “With 1 percent growth we can’t finance our social model any more. With 1 percent structural growth we can’t play a role in the world,” he told the World Economic Forum in Brussels. “We need to double the economic growth potential that we now have.” Many are skeptical that can be achieved…

          With the collapse of Greece and a concern that Spain, Portugal and Italy might follow, with Gordon Brown abruptly resigning, it is just laughable that you are pointing to Europe to lead the way.

  17. Also, for people that really want to get into how the facts

    I can’t recommend these guys enough.

  18. I thought i came here to get away from Republican garbage, my mistake.

    1. The facts about the deficit are non-partisan. Everyone from the Brookings insitutute to the Cato institured agrees on the problem.

      The real world solution will probably involve both higher taxes, and cuts to services.

      But the perponderance of the money will probably come from cuts to services, because the amount of money that will have to be raised is so high.…../index.htm

      1. I disagree, Kroneborge. Our spending is actually pretty typical. We simply lack the VAT and energy taxes that most other rich nations have.

        1. You mean rich nations like Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the U.K.?

          All of them have a VAT and high energy taxes and they’re all in even worse straits than we are. Like it or not, giving the gov’t X more in tax revenue eventually results in increased spending by >1.3X. For that reason, cutting spending is the only real solution.

          1. You do realize that Spain was running a surplus until very recently, correct? You do realize that its current problems have to do with Euro integration, not excessive spending, right?

            1. Spanish debt and deficit spending are not the problem for them. The real problem for spain is its debt and current deficit spending combined with its anemic growth rate that put it in dire straights. It’s unemployment rate is twice the Eurozone average with no economic turnaround in site. Spain probably won’t collapse, but it will accumulate more debt and grow very slowly into the future. If we face another recession in the next 7 years, many of the countries that are “doing fine” now could be pushed off of a cliff. Think of what Obama’s deficit projection will turn into if we hit another recession in the next 5 years.

              1. should be “in sight.” D’oh!

        2. Chad, I really pity your basic understanding of financial facts. We are not “rich”. Rich implies a preponderance of wealth. The United States government is deeply in debt. Our debt greatly exceeds government’s income and there is literally no chance of us paying off that debt. Nor is the debt invested in things likely to increase greatly in value to offset the risk involved. That is the definition not of rich or wealthy but broke. You confuse having some nice junk out front with being rich. The United States used to be rich. Now we are not. Sure, we still have the world’s most powerful economy, which is why we have been able to avoid collapse. That’s the equivalent of having a really high paying job, which does not equate to wealth…a difference your idiotic cohorts in Washington seem unable or unwilling to figure out.

          1. America is not rich?



            You are spoiled idiot. Seriously.

            1. And you are a piece of shit. I should have had that abortion.

        3. Our spending level may be typical, but that doesn’t make it right. Most of the money going towards the government is wasted. We could easily trim the fat and use THAT money for the important things. THis isn’t a contest of who can spend the most. Each spending item should have a real benefit, and that can’t include job production or increased consumption, as those are not benefits in and of themselves for obvious reasons.

        4. Broke = Rich
          Down = Up
          Left = Right

          Welcome to the psychotic world of Chad and Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA.)

  19. It was in the print issue too, what a waste. I’m glad I freeload now.

    IM Mooching off you.

  20. Hey guys, Check out this new political forum / website!

  21. I never understood why so many people have a hard on for Paul Ryan. yeah he might be right on one or two things, but he isn’t a fiscal conservative by far.

  22. I submit that Barack Obama has already done more to advance the cause of Liberty than Paul Ryan could do in a million years.

    Think about it: spawn of Jimmy Carter — Ronald Reagan. Spawn of Ronald Reagan — Bush I and II.

  23. Paul Ryan is a cutie.

  24. And when millions of eldery lie starving on the streets, no longer capable of earning their bread as Wal-Mart greeters, what is your plan?

    Grind them up for fertilizer.


    1. Soylent Green is people!!!

      1. Yeah but it’ll be made in China.

  25. Paul Ryan is a long way from being a total libertarian, but a total libertarian has almost no chance of winning (Ron Paul is the exception that proves the rule). People like him are the best we’re going to get for a long time.

    1. Reason has plenty of articles why Ron Paul is no libertarian. He’s a crank.

  26. Paul Ryan voted for the Iraq War.

    Paul Ryan voted for Bush’s Medicare Prescription Drug expansion.

    Paul Ryan voted for making the PATRIOT Act permanent.

    Paul Ryan voted to weaken FISA’s restrictions on warrantless wiretapping.

    Paul Ryan voted for TARP.

    Paul Ryan voted for special bailouts for the auto industry, which Bush vetoed.

    He has not, to my knowledge, denounced any of these votes.

    So yeah, no shit he’s not a total libertarian. He’s a rank statist when his party is in power, whatever rhetoric he now purveys when his party is out in the wilderness. If we’ve sunk so far that Paul Ryan is the best hope for small government folks, we may as well sit at home and masturbate all day on Election Day. At least then we’ll get screwed by someone we have no illusions about.

  27. Thanks for the article.

    I’m not, nor have I been, impressed with this man.

    If he wants to be a small government conservative he should start learning from Ron Paul.

    1. *facepalm*

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  31. Not that this brings anything to the argument, but Paul Ryan looks like one of those caricatures that are drawn for tourists in Times Square that has come to life. The exaggerated hair, the big eyes and giant ears…he looks creepy

    1. Democrats on Politico and The Daily Beast have said he looks like Eddie Munster. Try that one for real punch.

  32. A VAT is probably the WORST idea I’ve heard of. It would make implementing the Fair Tax to be pretty much impossible, and doom us to wasting 200b a year in tax compliance costs.

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  34. 2063 just to get the budget balanced, and the “progressive” attack line is already “People will die.” Might as well come up with a plan that balances the budget in 2013, the rhetoric is already on 11.

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  36. Why do we even debate Chad and Tony anymore? The former is a Marxist, and the latter is a Keynesian. We’ve tried to point out where they’re wrong in the past, and they refuse to listen. Rather, I should rephrase that; Tony hasn’t read a single treatise on economics ever, his excuse being that since they were written a long time ago, they aren’t true. Gee, that sure makes sense. I guess facts have an expiration date. I mean, “The Origin of Species” was written a really long time ago too. And by Tony’s logic, since it’s old, it isn’t true. Evolution disproven!

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  46. The rest is just claims and pledges about cutting growth and spending freezes. It will just happen, because he says so.

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  48. We shouldn’t take them seriously for the same reason we shouldn’t take clowns seriously. They deserve to be laughed at, and that is it. If they want their fallacious economic ideas to be given credence, then they can go to RevLeft.

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