Rep. Paul Ryan presented the Republican’s alternative budget today. Rep. Ryan is emerging as a voice of economic sanity in Washington but his budget, while better than the Democratic alternative, is a disappointment.
I won’t waste a lot of time going into details since this budget has exactly zero chance of being enacted, but here are a few highlights:
- Freezes discretionary spending on all programs except defense and veterans benefits through 2014.
- Adds a means test for Social Security if certain targets are breached.
- Also adds a means test for Medicare (at least if I’m reading this right). Enrolls new recipients in private insurance plans modeled after the Federal Government plan.
- Permanently extends the 2001/2003 tax relief provisions and alternative minimum tax patch.
- Offers a simplified, flat tax system as an alternative to the current system.
- Cuts corporate tax rates to 25%.
- Proposes shifting the Fed to inflation targeting.
Unfortunately, the budget would still maintain deficit spending of about 3% of GDP and expand the debt to 65% of GDP. While that is a lot better than the Obama budget, it isn’t enough. Isn’t there any politician out there that can produce a budget without further adding to our debts?
I have been somewhat impressed with Rep. Ryan over the last few months on economic matters (although he did vote for the AIG bonus tax and the TARP). He has proposed using a commodity standard for the dollar and he reiterates that plan in this budget. Unfortunately, he also says a commodity standard is politically impossible and instead endorses inflation targeting. If your entire budget is a political non starter, why not just stick to your principles?
The Repulicans are trying to position themselves as the party of fiscal conservatism, but the best I can say about this budget is that it is less irresponsible than the alternative. Republicans had their chance to enact fiscally responsible budgets and they blew it. It will take more than this to convince me that they have changed their ways.