Why does anyone continue to take Paul Ryan seriously? I’ve asked myself that question ever since Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District Representative and his tag team partner Mitt Romney took the equivalent of a four touchdown loss in the 2012 Presidential Election back in November.
More importantly Ryan has begged to by laughed at by most people who follow American politics because of the absolutely ridiculous fiscal budgets that he has put out over the last few years.
Earlier this week Ryan released the latest incarnation of his “throw grandma off the cliff” series also known as The Ryan budget part II. While there are segments of it that can be described as austerity on crack, like the call for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (as if 32 unsuccessful votes in the Republican House wasn’t enough) and the gutting of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid the notion floated by Ryan that this will all balance the nation’s budget in ten years completely takes the cake.
Ryan isn’t the only member of the Grand Old Party sounding the alarm for the books to balanced though. House Republicans recently offered up the “Require Presidential Leadership and No Deficit Act” a legislative measure demanding President Obama submit a balanced budget plan. The measure passed with a vote of 253-167 with 26 Democrats joining in.
As intense as people like Paul Ryan and House Republicans are, as intense as people like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was. The question needs to be asked does America even need a balanced budget.
As the brilliant Paul Krugman stated in his New York Times column on Monday. “People still talk as if the deficit were exploding, as if the United States budget were on an unsustainable path; in fact, the deficit is falling more rapidly than it has for generations, it is already down to sustainable levels, and it is too small given the state of the economy.”
Krugman also goes on to provide what he calls the classic example of America ignoring a balanced budget for the better “ America never did pay off the debt from World War II — in fact, our debt doubled in the 30 years that followed the war. But debt as a percentage of G.D.P. fell by three-quarters over the same period.
Which brings me to another quote from a New York Times piece written by Annie Lowrey today. Alice M. Rivlin, a Democratic economist at the Brookings Institution was quoted as saying “There is nothing magic about exact balance, the really important thing is to keep the debt from growing faster than the economy.”
Despite leading economists not only taking this point of view but backing it up with data that proves it has been successful it remains to be seen whether Congressional Democrats and the President will take to the Republican’s plan like mice taking to cheese on a trap.
Washington state Democratic Senator Patty Murray has offered up a counter budget to Ryan that calls for $100 billion in infrastructure spending (which is needed), and $240 billion in defense cuts,(sounds good) but also offers deep cuts in Medicare and Medicaid (stop right there).
The fact that Dems are even putting social programs on the table to be slashed is once again proof that Republicans dictate the terms of the conversations in Washington DC. Paul Ryan is calling for huge tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires without paying for them and very few elected Democrats have called him on it.
Debt and Deficits are not good for the overall economy and over time they need to be dealt with, but they should take precedent over America’s real problem right now and that is the massive jobs crisis we are still facing.
We need all kinds of help getting Paul Ryan and his austerity worship colleagues in the House to understand that.