Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, released Tuesday, is a mixed bag, according to tax professionals and political pundits, with even conservative thinkers deriding its merits. As Cato Institute Scholar Michael Tanner recently opined: Ryan’s budget has “about as much chance of becoming law as Nancy Pelosi does of being elected pope.”
While Tanner shares some critical views of the Wisconsin Republican’s budget in a recent commentary for the National Review, he also opines that the Ryan budget “provides a view of Republican priorities and their vision for how to increase economic growth, reform entitlements and balance the budget. While timid and imperfect, Ryan’s plan shows that Republicans are at least looking in the right direction.”
Tanner’s colleague, Tad DeHaven, Cato’s budget analyst, is the most critical of Ryan’s plan, however, stating that “What makes the Ryan proposal aggravating is that it’s hardly a vision of limited government. The president promises big government and Ryan promises smaller big government.”
Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget Policies and Priorities, says Ryan’s budget is “just as extreme” as the one he proposed last year. Says Greenstein: “Its cuts in programs for low-income and vulnerable Americans appear as massive as in last year’s budget, and its tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans could be larger than in last year’s.”
In addition, Greenstein says that “in critical ways [Ryan’s] budget is exceedingly vague—and, as a result, its claim to reach balance in ten years is hard to take seriously.”
The Ryan plan also “leaves unspecified hundreds of billions of dollars in budget cuts as well as the several trillion dollars of needed tax expenditure savings to pay for its proposed deep cuts in income tax rates,” Greestein says. “Thus, the budget’s fiscal claims rest on massive magic asterisks.”
Ryan unveiled the details of his plan in a Monday op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, stating that with America’s national debt weighing in at $16 trillion, “Washington can’t figure out how to cut $85 billion—or just 2% of the federal budget—without resorting to arbitrary, across-the-board cuts.” Clearly, he says, “the budget process is broken.”
He then criticizes President Barack Obama for missing his budget deadline, as well as Senate Democrats for not passing a budget in “over 1,400” days. “By refusing to tackle the drivers of the nation’s debt—or simply to write a budget—Washington lurches from crisis to crisis,” he said.