Monday September 10, 2012

Paul Ryan’s budget plan. I can hardly wait to study Paul Ryan’s budget plan. I wish he would present it.

"What, you have not studied it yet? It a work of genius," my Republican friends say. Genius it may or (I think more likely) may not be, but we haven’t seen it yet.

Mr. Ryan has presented some proposals dear to conservative hearts: A walloping income tax cut totaling $4.5 trillion over a decade, with rates for the wealthiest reduced to 25 percent and no tax -- no tax! -- on capital gains and dividends. A reduction in the maximum corporate tax rate to 25 percent; a reduction in non-defense spending from 12 percent to 5 percent of Gross Domestic Product and in Medicaid from 2 percent to 1 percent of same. But he hasn’t presented a budget.

He proposes to make his income tax cuts "revenue neutral" by reducing or eliminating deductions and allowances in the current tax code -- but he refuses to specify which ones. He would do the same for corporate taxes by eliminating loopholes in the code -- but again refuses to specify which ones. By the way, it is doubtful if there even are $4.5 trillion in plausible deductions and loopholes available in the present code.

He proposes to cut non-defense spending by more than half -- but declines to specify which programs would be reduced and by how much. He plans to reduce Medicaid by making it into a system of block grants to the states -- but fantasizes that the states will find ways to make the system work with vastly less money than now.


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Until Mr. Ryan, or his running mate Mr. Romney, or the Republican Party, specify the deductions, the loopholes, and the budget reductions which are the essence of his proposals, it is not a budget or even a budget plan. It may be a small government dream, but it is an exercise in dissimulation and even outright deception. It is as if an architect, commissioned to design a house, provided a pretty sketch of the exterior, specified to total square footage and the number of bedrooms, but insisted that detailed plans, specifications and costs were not necessary.

So rather than fulminate about what havoc his proposals might wreak, let us simply and relentlessly insist that Mr. Ryan complete his "plan" so that the American people can have a fair understanding of what it would really mean to them -- the rich, the middle class and the poor. Two out of three of the above won’t like it. I promise you.

JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU

Stockbridge