The Ryan Budget: Policy or Politics?

Gretchen Hamel of The Public Notice has a good and thoughtful piece at the New York Times Room for Debate blog (whose topic today is “The Ryan Budget: Policy or Just Politics?”). She compares the president’s plan with the Ryan budget. Hamel’s comments are particularly interesting considering that she keeps a close tab on the mood of the independents. Here is a tidbit:

For Americans hungry to see spending reform and deficit control, both proposed budgets are a disappointment. While there are thousands of line items in the budget, there are three big ones: defense, Social Security and Medicare. To get spending under control, lawmakers will not only need to cut back on the thousands of small and often duplicative programs, but also will need to address the big three.

Chairman Ryan’s proposal addresses Medicare, but not defense. In fact, he seeks to increase defense spending, going against what was agreed to and signed into law in the Budget Control Act last August. The Ryan plan would allow defense spending to grow, despite the drawdown on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Obama’s budget, on the other hand, would cut defense spending but is silent on entitlements and mandatory spending — which make up 56 percent of government spending. More than two years ago, President Obama said he would cut our deficit in half by the end of his first term. Instead, he has run a deficit every month he has been in office and added $4 trillion to our debt. The bottom line is that neither of the current documents fully addresses the big three spending line items. Neither lives up to the promise lawmakers have made to get serious about spending.

The whole piece is here. My piece (“A Policy of Dessert Now, Spinach Later”) is here. The whole debate is here. I am glad to see free-market advocates push back on the plan. I believe these criticisms will help lawmakers be bolder next time around.

Veronique de Rugy — Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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