Paul Ryan’s Budget and Why It’s Flawed

By YeOldeScribe ~ August 13th, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

Yesterday, we made a somewhat surprising post detailing why we think Mitt Romney’s selection of WI Rep. Paul Ryan was a good thing. Some of our readers initially thought that we meant that the selection was “good” for Democrats and that we were bashing the pick for Republicans. Not true. We really do feel that Ryan is a great pick for Republicans and that he helps Romney’s chances at winning come November. That being said, the Ryan pick is also good news for Democrats (more on this later on this week), and it doesn’t change the fact that Obama is more likely to win this election.

We also briefly went over Ryan’s budget proposal. If you haven’t taken a look at it, you can do so by clicking on yesterday’s post (all of the hyperlinks are there). As we said yesterday, the three minute introduction videos are great. But if you want a slightly more in-depth picture of what Ryan and House Republicans were planning, check this document out (and that’s not even the full version).

At PoliticalProgressives, we really do support the basic ideas that this document is based on, and we applaud Rep. Ryan for having the courage to do what it seems Senate Democrats and Republicans are afraid of doing and actually proposing a plan to fix the mess we’re in. However, any plan is not always better than no plan at all. Ryan hits on two areas that need to be reformed, but one he doesn’t take seriously (tax reform) and he leaves out another in its entirety – defense spending. Ryan would like you to believe in that third video that his plan will force the rich to pay more, but the reality is different, and has been well documented. Ryan’s idea is right (reform is needed), but his implementation is wrong (squeeze it out of the poor). It’s so wrong that Catholic Bishops sent Washington a letter saying the budget lacked basic moral criteria. At the point where your proposal is so misguided to the point where the religious right might not even be supporting you anymore, you know you’ve done something horribly wrong.

But a bigger here is the issue he didn’t touch – defense spending. Oh, sure, Ryan will now try to come out and say his budget does cover it and that yes, defense spending does need to be reeled in. But even if you consider Ryan a deficit hawk, he isn’t one when it comes to defense spending. In fact, he tried to have domestic programs cut twice as much instead of having any money being taken away from defense. That’s not the right way to do things. If you’re going to say government spending is out of control, then why not look to two of the best places to get more money from – rich people who don’t pay taxes and the military? We’ve documented in the past how silly military spending can be ($500 million for bands? We wish our public school fine arts classes could be supported so well.), but let’s take a look at how much we spend on the military compared to other programs and compared to the GDP.

The US spends more than $700 billion dollars in defense spending every year. Yes, that’s almost $1 trillion (or $1,000,000,000,000.00). Want to put that number into comparison? The US accounts for almost half of all total defense spending in the entire world. Meaning for every dollar that is spent on defense, the US would take 50 cents of it and leave the rest for every other nation on Earth. Let’s put this into perspective again and compare defense spending to Humanitarian Aid. Many people believe that we spend a great deal of our budget on Humanitarian Aid. We don’t. We spend next to nothing. According to the most recent budget, we spend about $33 billion on “International Affairs”, which is where we get the quote that the US spends 1% of its budget on humanitarian aid. But international affairs covers a lot of things that aren’t humanitarian aid, including the cost to run embassies or the State Department’s “Drug War”. The actual amount spent on real humanitarian aid is closer to $12 billion, or about .4% of our budget.

But don’t you need to factor in GDP? Sure, let’s go ahead and do that. Then let’s compare our spending with those of other major economic players. This chart shows it all. See how even when GDP is factored in we outspend other countries two to one? The bottom line is this: defense needs to be reformed just as much as Medicare, Taxes, and other government spending. Ryan’s failure to address this issue shows that he’s just playing the party line here, and has no real interest in solving the problem. At least in part, the Ryan budget was just another propaganda tool – screw the poor, cut back spending on people, give businesses and the military all the money they want, and God Bless America.

Unfortunately, that plan isn’t going to work. It hasn’t worked in the past and it’s not going to work now. Democrats owe it to us and to themselves to come up with a better plan that’s realistic. This nation can’t run on temporary budgets and limited extensions forever. And eventually, someone is going to have to make the hard choices. Somewhere along the line, compromise needs to happen to get things done. Yes, the Ryan plan is terrible when you actually look at the details. So fix it! Offer something better! Or better yet, offer something! Democrats consistently criticize Republicans for being the party of “No”, but they’re doing the same thing with the budget. If Democrats want to stop the Ryan Budget (which they should), then they need to get their act together too.

We give Ryan some credit for having the stones to tackle a serious issue like this. Unfortunately, he tackles it about as well as the Packer’s secondary does (and we say this as die-hard Packer fans). The plan is a bad idea that hurts the poor to benefit the rich, and has no chance of being passed right now. So while he gets an A for presentation and dedication, he gets a huge F for execution and content, which is what really matters anyway.

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