Home Budget, Economy Krugman: Obama “calls bluff” on Ryan’s “sick joke”/”pure fantasy”

Krugman: Obama “calls bluff” on Ryan’s “sick joke”/”pure fantasy”

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Nobel Prize winner (in Economics) Paul Krugman eviscerates Paul Ryan’s so-called “plan” for reducing the deficit. In fact, according to Krugman, “people who actually understand budget numbers” know that Ryan’s plan is: not “serious at all,” “a sick joke,” a series of “savage cuts in aid to the needy and the uninsured, huge tax cuts for corporations and the rich, and Medicare privatization,” and in general “pure fantasy.” And, I’d add, President Obama was 100% correct when he slammed Ryan’s plan as leading to “a fundamentally different America than the one we’ve known certainly in my lifetime.”

Apparently, that was too much for the delicate flower Paul Ryan, who is having a major “hissy fit” (Krugman’s words) that someone has “called Mr. Ryan’s bluff.” Apparently, Obama hit a raw nerve among Ryan (and other Republicans), who prefer to dwell in a fantasy land where we can have everything (their favorites are favors to corporations, polluters and rich people; as well as to the military-industrial complex), without paying for it.

The core Republican problem is very simple: as this article explains, Republicans have a near-theological belief that you nevereverevereverever raise taxes. But really, what the Republicans’ mindless, buy-stuff-without-paying-for-it mantra is all about is politics, namely, holding together “every wing of the party” – theocrats, aristocrats, etc. It’s also about not incurring the wrath of anti-tax enforcers like Big Bad Grover Norquist, “perhaps the country’s most influential anti-tax advocate.”  

But here’s the fundamental conundrum for Ryan et al: unless he and other Republicans are seriously advocating slashing “entitlements” (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) and Defense, which make up around 80% (more if you take away interest on the debt) of the federal budget, the only way to balance the budget — let alone start reducing the accumulated national debt — is to, GASP!!!, raise “revenues” (aka, “taxes”).

None of that is ideology, by the way, it’s simply mathematics. Which gets to the root of Ryan’s hissy fit. Deep down, unless he’s an ignorant fool (which I don’t think he is), Ryan must know that his numbers don’t add up with spending cuts alone (unless he seriously wants to slash and/or dismantle entitlements, particularly Medicare).

Deep down, Ryan’s also got to know that repealing the Bush tax cuts alone would achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade; that raising top tax rates, closing tax loopholes, and ditching taxpayer-funded corporate welfare; all would contribute greatly to balancing America’s budget in short order.

In other words, return America’s tax/spending balance closer to what it was during the Clinton/Gingrich era (as opposed to the Bush/DeLay debacle), and voila, the budget is balanced. It’s really not that hard — IF you’re willing to look at the real cause of the problem, which is the Bush Administration’s massive tax cuts, its unfunded wars, and its expansion of entitlements (Medicare Part D) without paying for it.

Will Paul Ryan admit any of this (aka, “reality”), or will he just keep  living in his “sick joke”/”pure fantasy” la la land, while throwing hissy fits and proposing harsh (and almost certainly toxic, politically) cuts to entitlements, without even balancing the budget? Given Republican (let alone Tea Party!) anti-tax theology, I’m betting on the latter. How about you?