Brooks: Ryan Budget is a Game-Changer

April 5th, 2011 at 5:14 am | 9 Comments |

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David Brooks writes in the New York Times:

It was a season of fiscal perestroika. Last fall, the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission released a bold report on how to avoid an economic catastrophe. For a few weeks, the think tanks and government offices were alive with proposals to reduce debt and reform entitlements, the tax code and just about every other government program.

The mood did not last. The polls suggested that voters were still unwilling to accept tax increases or benefit cuts. Smart Washington insiders like Mitch McConnell and President Obama decided that any party that actually tried to implement these ideas would be committing political suicide. The president walked away from the Simpson-Bowles package. Far from addressing the fiscal problems, the president’s budget would double the nation’s debt over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

But the forces of reform have not been entirely silenced. Over the past few weeks, a number of groups, including the ex-chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisers and 64 prominent budget experts, have issued letters arguing that the debt situation is so dire that doing nothing is not a survivable option. What they lacked was courageous political leadership — a powerful elected official willing to issue a proposal, willing to take a stand, willing to face the political perils.

The country lacked that leadership until today. Today, Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, is scheduled to release the most comprehensive and most courageous budget reform proposal any of us have seen in our lifetimes. Ryan is expected to leap into the vacuum left by the president’s passivity. The Ryan budget will not be enacted this year, but it will immediately reframe the domestic policy debate.

His proposal will set the standard of seriousness for anybody who wants to play in this discussion. It will become the 2012 Republican platform, no matter who is the nominee. Any candidate hoping to win that nomination will have to be able to talk about government programs with this degree of specificity, so it will improve the G.O.P. primary race.

The Ryan proposal will help settle the fight over the government shutdown and the 2011 budget because it will remind everybody that the real argument is not about cutting a few billion here or there. It is about the underlying architecture of domestic programs in 2012 and beyond.

The Ryan budget will put all future arguments in the proper context: The current welfare state is simply unsustainable and anybody who is serious, on left or right, has to have a new vision of the social contract.

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9 Comments so far ↓

  • JeninCT

    Good article. Call Ryan what he is, brave.

  • Smargalicious

  • ottovbvs

    It’s a game changer alright. If Brooks is correct and he probably is that this will be the centerpiece of the presidential and congressional elections next year then I’m sure Republican candidates are going to be delighted with the hand Mr Ryan has dealt them. And so are Democrats.

  • Nanotek

    “The Ryan budget will put all future arguments in the proper context: The current welfare state is simply unsustainable and anybody who is serious, on left or right, has to have a new vision of the social contract.”

    we could use a new “social contract” in the face of the Republican’s ongoing class warfare against working class Americans — the current wave of revolutions in the middle east certainly establish that social contracts are subject to the laws of equity.

    “Every gun that is fired, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.” Pres. Dwight Eisenhower (April 1953, Washington, D.C.)

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Ryan has accomplished absolutely nothing legislatively since he entered college, he is a hack all bluster and talk with zero follow through. Fantasy budgets that have ZERO chances are worse than useless, they are a distraction from the absolutely necessary budget compromised needed by both parties.

    “The Ryan budget doesn’t touch Medicare for anybody over 55, but for younger people it turns it into a defined contribution plan.” This alone shows why Ryan is a hack. If medicare vouchers are a good idea, they are a good idea NOW, not in 10 years. The notion that it will take 10 years to prepare for the voucher program is hogwash. Imagine saying to people, hey I will give you school vouchers for your children IN 10 YEARS.
    There is absolutely no reason Ryan can not propose a pilot program starting immediately to allow older people to opt for vouchers now, and we can then see how many take it and how many insurance companies are willing to underwrite these old people. As it is this assclown Ryan just loves the attention his proposal will get, the exact same dynamics that exist now will exist in 10 years and in 10 years they will talk about pushing it back another 10 years.

    Brooks should be embarrassed by that article, he has to have sore knees.

  • ram6968

    voters don’t want tax increases?? funny…..I haven’t heard anything about tax increases…..especially for the rich

  • Saladdin

    Really? A game changer from the boy genius who voted in FAVOR of medicare part D, the biggest boondoggle in medicare history? C’mon. After that vote, I can’t take anything Paul Ryan says seriously about budget deficits.

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