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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Voodoo redux

Paul Ryan appears to be a classic "do as I say not as I do" Republican, building a budget on rosy scenarios while saying one thing and doing another.

The GOP's new Super Man's track record is dissected at some length today in the Boston Globe, which not examines not only the shaky underpinnings of Brown's radical budget plan but also notes his willingness to grab for some of the same stimulus funding he decried as wasteful.

Let's start with the $787 billion stimulus, you know the one the GOP single-handedly blames for creating the debt (ignoring the Bush tax cut, two credit card wars and a Medicare prescription benefit).

Ryan lobbied hard for millions in energy grants for his district -- successfully securing $20 million to help thousands of local businesses and homes improve their energy efficiency. Of course Ryan had voted against the very legislation that provided the funding, saying it "misses the mark on all counts."

Hypocrisy is the coin of the realm on Capitol Hill and a Ryan aide at the time declared “If Congressman Ryan is asked to help a Wisconsin entity applying for existing federal grant funds, he does not believe flawed policy should get in the way of doing his job and providing a legitimate constituent service to his employers."

That did not stop Ryan himself from piously declaring:
This trillion-dollar spending bill misses the mark on all counts,” said Ryan in a statement. “This is not a crisis we can spend and borrow our way out of — that is how we got here in the first place.”
 Business as usual. And so is the much-touted budget plan that is built upon assumptions that are not backed up by details -- the same flaws that mark Mitt Romney's "plan."
Ryan’s plan “aggressively cuts tax rates and promises to recoup lost revenue by getting rid of tax preferences; but what it fails to do is specify which tax preferences it will get rid of, kicking that over to others in Congress to do the heavy lifting,” said Roberton Williams, a senior analyst at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.
In the tradition of Ryan's first boss, former Rep. Jack Kemp, the Wisconsin congressman goes all in on supply side economics, the Reagan plan to created the first yawning budget gap. Both Reagan and George W. Bush built sand castle budgets on the theory that tax cuts would serve as job creating incentives, a theory now thoroughly discredited in reality if not the mind of Grover Norquist acolytes.

As the Globe notes:
An analysis of Ryan’s plan by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, released in March, made clear that Ryan’s economic assumptions are key to his plan. For example, the report said that under one current scenario the federal debt would be 200 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product in 2050. But under the scenario envisioned by Ryan, the public debt would be just 10 percent of GDP by 2050.
The massive tax cuts envisioned by Ryan -- Bush on steroids -- are paid for by equally massive cuts in social programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and education. Defense spending would continue to grow despite disengagement from Bush's two credit card wars.

And Ryan's promise to close tax loopholes inevitably mean an attack on middle class havens like the mortgage deduction.

It's best left to George H.W. Bush, the last Republican who understood how spending and taxation worked.

It's Voodoo Economics Redux.

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