Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cut spending AND raise revenues

Dana Milbank of the the Washington Post does a good job of getting to the heart of the problems with Paul Ryan's budget proposal - it's not a budget proposal at all but is instead a tax cutting manifesto.

I pointed out in my blog yesterday that a serious proposal would include tax increases and military cuts as well as entitlement cuts.  I suppose that one could imagine that Ryan expects those moves to come from the left side of the isle and he was just staking out a negotiating position.  But, I think that the seriousness of this crisis is so great that I hate to see gamesmanship be part of the dialogue.  

The part of Ryan's proposal that I like the least is the notion of privatizing Medicare.  I think that would end up ending Medicare because it would put the elderly into the realm of the insurance companies, and the elderly, by definition, have "pre-existing conditions" - they are old and at risk of many illnesses.  I don't see that happening.

As to the endless and tiresome drumbeat of lowering taxes that comes from the Republicans, I think it is time for them to grow up and acknowledge the limits of their religious belief in Reaganomics theology.  The theory that lower taxes stimulate the economy is limited at best.  Reagan lowered taxes and the economy grew, that is true.  But, a couple of other things happened too.  Regulations were reduced and inflation was dramatically lowered by Volker's Federal Reserve.  The biggest cause of economic prosperity in the Reagan years, in my opinion, was getting inflation under control.  

As to the deregulation, it was totally discredited by the economic meltdown of 2008 when we all discovered that effective, powerful, punishing regulation was desperately needed in the financial sector, was missing, and millions of jobs were lost because of that lack of regulation.

Again, I praise Paul Ryan for seriously addressing the most pressing crisis in America: our impending bankruptcy as a nation.  But, without revenue increases, cuts in military spending, and preservation of the social safety net, it is a loser.  

The ball is in Obama's court.  I hope, again, that he advances the ball and comes back with a very serious budget proposal that incorporates Ryan's goals, but does it with liberal approaches.  That means cutting spending and raising revenues.  It is too important for demagoguing.  I have great hope that the president will rise to the occasion and provide much needed leadership.