This week, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan introduced his budget for FY 2012. The media and politicians alike are either swooning over it or chastising it depending on their particular slant.
Some are applauding it as a bold proposal; others attempt to cast it in apocalyptic terms - seniors will be dying in the streets, Ryan hates puppies and kittens - that sort of thing.
To be fair, Chairman Ryan's proposal isn't necessarily bad, is certainly a step above what the GOP has been debating about all year so far, and is definitely more serious of a budget than President Obama's. The specific problem I have is with the long-term nature of Ryan's proposal. In theory, it "saves" money in the first decade - from Obama's budget. Yet, with Ryan's proposal, the budget doesn't balance out until 2040 - a whopping 28 years down the road! According to Ryan, this fact just shows how serious our financial problems are... Don't worry Tea Partiers, your grandkids might have a balanced budget.
So to say that Paul Ryan's budget is better than Barack Obama's doesn't assuage my concerns over the fiscal crisis our nation is rapidly heading toward.
There is a budget proposal out there that balances the budget not only during this generation, but basically by the end of his first term as US Senator. I'm speaking of course about Senator Rand Paul's budget proposal, which - when compared to both Paul Ryan's and Barack Obama's - is a much more serious approach and acknowledgement of the crisis we are facing.
Not only does Rand's budget balance over a five year period, but within the first year, spending is brought down to 19% of our GDP. Paul Ryan's budget plan leaves government spending around 20% of GDP by 2040 - still above the historic average of around 18%.
It's also important to note some major differences between Rand and Ryan's budget. Rand focuses on reining in the size and scope of government, for instance, nixing 4 unconstitutional federal agencies. Ryan's budget is mostly entitlement reform, some minor spending cuts, and repealing ObamaCare.
To get a sense of how these budgets all compare, the Cato Institute created graphs comparing Paul Ryan's vs. Obama's and then separatelyRand Paul's vs. Obama's. I've included them to give you an idea of how these proposals compare.
Additionally, I share TAC Editor Dan McCarthy's skepticism of Paul Ryan's proposal. His record of supporting programs like Medicare Part D that heaped on additional unfunded liabilities calls into question the seriousness and commitment of any long-term proposal like Chairman Ryan is proposing. Cato's Chris Edwards says Ryan could improve his budget by adopting more serious immediate cuts like those in Rand's$500 billion in spending cuts over one year.
In the end, Senator Paul's five year budget is still the only balanced budget proposed in Congress. The fiscal conservative grassroots should be demanding his budget be considered by House leadership - every Republican member of the Senate should be a cosponsor. The fact that a serious proposal like Rand's is not receiving the attention level of Ryan's is very telling of the political establishment. They are in fact suggesting to the grassroots that Paul Ryan's budget is the best they can do, which considering most of the establishment won't be in Congress by 2040 (if even still having a pulse), the proposal falls flat. The only way Ryan's budget could be considered fiscally conservative is compared to Obama's. it can't even hold a candle to Rand's.
While there are certainly little tweaks and adjustments we all could discuss, it's not important that everyone agree on every cut in Rand Paul's budget. What it does, though, is set the bar. If your senator or representative claims to be a fiscal conservative, yet doesn't support Rand's budget because he cuts this or that, challenge them to introduce their own budget - one that takes place during the time they're in office so they can be rewarded or held accountible for how it turns out.