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Path to Prosperity Unveiled, Bring on the Lefty Backlash

paul ryan proposal
Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his fellow House Budget Committee colleagues released their much-anticipated budget proposal, The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s PromiseTuesday.  The plan cuts $6.2 trillion over the next ten years and endeavors to “Put the budget on the path to balance and the economy on the path to prosperity.”

See it in full here…

See the video presentation here…

Here are the High Points

SPENDING

  • Cuts $6.2 trillion in government spending over the next decade compared to the President’s budget, and $5.8 trillion relative to the current-policy baseline.
  • Eliminates hundreds of duplicative programs, reflects the ban on earmarks, and curbs corporate welfarebringing non-security discretionary spending to below 2008 levels.
  • Brings government spending to below 20 percent of the economy, a sharp contrast to the President’sbudget, in which spending never falls below 23 percent of GDP over the next decade.

DEBT AND DEFICITS

  • Reduces deficits by $4.4 trillion compared to the President’s budget over the next decade.
  • Surpasses the President’s low benchmark of sustainability – which his own budget fails to meet –by reaching primary balance in 2015.
  • Puts the budget on the path to balance and pays off the debt.

TAXES

  • Keeps taxes low so the economy can grow.
  • Eliminates roughly $800 billion in tax increases imposed bythe President’s health care law.
  • Prevents the $1.5 trillion tax increase called for in the President’s budget.Calls for a simpler, less burdensome tax code for households and small businesses.
  • Lowers tax rates for individuals, businesses and families.
  • Sets top rates for individuals and businesses at 25 percent.
  • Improves incentives for growth, savings, and investment.

GROWTH AND JOBS

  • Creates nearly 1 million new private-sector jobs next year, brings the unemployment rate down to 4 percent by 2015, and results in 2.5 million additional private-sector jobs in the last year of the decade.
  • Spurs economic growth, increasing real GDP by $1.5 trillion over the decade.
  • Unleashes prosperity and economic security, yielding $1.1 trillion in higher wages and an average $1,000 per year in higher income for each family.

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So, I’m pretty sure you can guess how the next step of this will play out.  Rep. Ryan will be painted as “an extremist” and as a “radical.”  The proposal will be “torn to shreds” by every Lefty media outlet and criticized openly as “overly expansive” and “controversial” by the main stream media.  He and It are about to face the greatest barrage of negative PR that this nation has seen in decades.  If you think the Right-Wing reaction to Obamacare was swift and “hostile”, you “ain’t seen nothing yet.”

That whole “civility” thing, just left town and it took common sense, duty to one’s country, bipartisanship, and every conceivable flowery adjective with it.

As is the case with any piece of proposed legislation, this plan (path) is going to serve as a bookend for the real debate that is coming.  I think even Ryan would probably tell you that it would be a long-shot at best to hope for half of this to find its way into final legislation; but that should not in any way diminish the importance of, or the courage it must take, to present such a plan.

What Ryan and his colleagues have done here is nothing short of courageous.  Sure, it is paper and ink at this point; promises and speculation rooted in mathematical calculations and theoretical propositions; but this is the first time in this or several lifetimes that ANY substantial piece of legislation was presented to legitimately take on the task of reforming government spending comprehensively.  Sure, others have attempted to broach the subject in piecemeal; but nothing has come anywhere even remotely close to this.

The next few days should be rather exciting times on Capitol Hill.  I am eagerly awaiting responses from Ryan’s peers in the House and leadership in the Senate.  Some will take their time formulating an opinion on the proposal, but others will be compelled by an uncontrollable force to weigh in.  I do believe first impressions will be the most telling.

That said, I would be more than disingenuous if I did not express the concerns I do have with this proposal.  First of all, the comprehensiveness that makes it courageous also probably serves as its greatest shortcoming.  I have never been a fan of “comprehensive” legislation.  They sound great as theoretical constructs when drafted by the right people with the right intentions, but the day-to-day deal-making of Washington typically leaves the end result looking completely foreign to the original blueprint.  By my calculation, “comprehensive” is typically a code word for “A bunch of crap neither side wants; that has to be in there; so that both sides can agree that the thing is utterly useless to both sides.”

Second.  While I would never question Rep. Ryan’s grasp or knowledge of budgetary matters, I would question his ability to turn his facts and figures into actual legislation.  His efforts over the last two years have generated eloquent sound bites, but very little in terms of actual results.  My skepticism here is rooted in the fact that Ryan will not be the one “cutting the deals” behind closed doors or negotiating with Dem leadership.  He has simply laid out a path; that other men must follow and not lose sight of.  Add that to the fact that even I (a fellow Right-Winger and a supporter) cannot stand to listen to him talk for more than 30 seconds at a time without being reminded of the tool I wanted to punch in the back of the head in class; and he’s got a mighty big hill to climb.

Third.  While I appreciate the depth of the cuts, reforms, and proposals; I am still rather curious where the $6.2 trillion comes from, exactly.  From my preliminary perusal of the document, it seems to be measured against the President’s ten-year outlook.  While Ryan’s would certainly be preferred, I fail to see how an unreliable measuring stick is a reliable one.

Lastly, I see that this plan’s great destination is set years into the future – 26 for the point where Ryan says numbers could not be calculated any longer; or 39 if you use the outer range of these projections.  While I am not one to need instant gratification from such endeavors, I am one to require some safeguard that a future Congress cannot simply undue what would be done; or find another way to add to debt and deficit on a “side road.”  Anything short of adding a Constitutional Amendment to this proposal would leave it vulnerable to the changing of the political tides.  After all, this proposal would undo much of what the last Congress created with Obamacare.  How long could a Republican piece of legislation this expansive expect to stand up under the weight of a Dem-controlled House and Senate?  About a month?  Maybe two?

In sum, I do not intend to come off as a “critic” of the proposal.  I think it is a much needed step in the right direction.  I offer my thoughts and reservations only for the cause of adding some perspective to the matter.  As my fellow RepubliConservatives drool over this thing in the next few days and prepare to crown Rep. Ryan as the next Ronald Reagan, I would only wish to caution them not to lose sight of the realities that still very much plague the process.  I commend Congressman Ryan for his efforts and I look forward to seeing how this proposal moves forward, but I do so with cautious optimism.

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