The GOP’s Flim-Flam Man 10 Year Plan Dismissed by Serious Economists as Not Serious


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The GOP's Flim-Flam Man, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), released his "Path to Prosperity" 10 year plan on Tuesday. As the New York Times opined, "If the House Republican budget blueprint released on Tuesday is the “path to prosperity” that its title claims, it is hard to imagine what ruin would look like." The Budget Battles – Prosperity for Whom? –

Rep. Ryan's plan was immediately dismissed by serious economists. A "boy genius" he's not.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's initial analysis of the House GOP budget released Tuesday by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is filled with bad news for Republicans. CBO: GOP Budget Would Increase Debt, Then Stick It To Medicare Patients:

[T]he CBO finds that by the end of the 10-year budget window, public debt will actually be higher than it would be if the GOP just did nothing.

Under the so-called "extended baseline scenario" — a.k.a. projections based on current law — debt held by the public will grow to 67 percent of GDP by 2022. Under the GOP plan, public debt would reach 70 percent of GDP in the same window.

In other words, the spending cuts Republicans would realize in the first 10 years would be outpaced by deficit increasing tax-cuts, which Ryan also proposes. After that, debt projections under the plan improve decade-by-decade relative to current law. That's because 2022 would mark the beginning of his [proposed] Medicare privatization plan. That's when, CBO finds, "most elderly people would pay more for their health care than they would pay under the current Medicare system."

If the current Medicare system were allowed to continue, CBO found that an average 65-year-old beneficiary's costs would be only 25 percent of what it'd be in the individual private insurance market. Under the GOP plan, those costs would jump to 68 percent.

In plain English, "the gradually increasing number of Medicare beneficiaries participating in the new premium support program [the GOP's Medicare privatization plan] would bear a much larger share of their health care costs than they would under the current program."

The right-wing Heritage Foundation put out talking points in support of this GOP budget train wreck. Oops! The bogus research by the right-wing Heritage Foundation was immediately debunked by economists and the media. Paul Ryan's Absurdly Optimistic Budget Projections Draw Widespread Ridicule:

2.8% unemployment? $150 billon a year in new economic growth? Tax revenues that rise with tax cuts?

All this can be yours — and more! — even while cutting trillions of dollars from the federal government and lowering taxes on the wealthy and corporations, according to a giddy estimate of the Republican budget by the conservative Heritage Foundation.

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Rep. Paul Ryan  prominently cited the think tank's absurdly rosy numbers, drawing widespread mockery from economists, budget experts, and health care wonks. Even the developer of the model that Heritage used to crunch the numbers can't figure out how Heritage reached its conclusions.

Today, there's this – Heritage: Our Wildly Optimistic Budget Analysis May Be a Tad Offya think?!

And Alice Rivlin, a budget expert at Brookings who used to work for Bill Clinton, whom Rep. Ryan gives credit as a coauthor of his plan  in an interview with Politico Tuesday she said she can't support the specifics of the Ryan plan. "We had worked together but the version that's in the budget resolution is not one that I would subscribe to." Oops!

Paul-ryan-unicorn-cropped-proto-custom_2Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman rips the "boy genius" a new one today. (h/t Talking Points Memo for the graphic). Paul Ryan's Multiple Unicorns –

Gosh. For a plan that supposedly sets a new standard of seriousness, Paul Ryan’s vision (pdf) depends an awful lot on unicorn sightings — belief in the impossible. Let me review the top three unicorns.

First, the plan assumes that tax cuts will set off a literally unprecedented boom. Here’s again, is what is assumed about unemployment:


So Ryan is claiming that unemployment will plunge right away; that by 2015 it will be down to the levels at the peak of the 1990s boom (and far below anything achieved under the sainted Ronald Reagan); and that by 2021 it will be below 3 percent, a level we haven’t seen in more than half a century. Right.

Then there’s the Medicare business. According to the CBO analysis, a typical senior would end up spending more than twice as much of his or her own income on health care as under current law. As Dean Baker points out, this means that seniors would end up paying most of their income for health care. Again, right.

But in a way, the worst part isn’t the Medicare plan: it’s the fact — which so far has not penetrated the debate — that the biggest source of supposed savings in the plan isn’t actually health care, it’s an assumption that federal spending on everything except health and Social Security can somehow be squeezed, as a percent of GDP, to a small fraction of current levels. Here’s the table, from Ryan’s own report:


Notice the marked area at the bottom: Ryan is assuming that everything aside from health and SS can be squeezed from 12 percent of GDP now to 3 1/2 percent of GDP. That’s bigger than the assumed cut in health care spending relative to baseline; it accounts for all of the projected deficit reduction, since the alleged health savings are all used to finance tax cuts. And how is this supposed to be accomplished? Not explained.

This isn’t a serious proposal; it’s a strange combination of cruelty and insanely wishful thinking.

Steve Benen makes the observation that "This has nothing to do with fiscal responsibility, and everything to do with an ideological crusade. Ryan and his backers don't want to shrink the deficit; they want to shrink government." The Washington Monthly:

Indeed, yesterday, Ryan declared, "This isn't a budget. This is a cause." It's perhaps the only thing he said yesterday that actually made sense.

Think about this for a minute — if the goal of a budget plan is deficit reduction, it would presumably include some tax increases to help shrink the budget gap. Ryan's plan cuts taxes, by a lot, which makes his alleged goal harder to reach.

* * *

Why would anyone cut taxes while trying to reduce the deficit? They wouldn't, unless deficit reduction wasn't really the point.

Putting this in context, Ryan and the House GOP intend to impose significant hardship on the elderly, the disabled, low-income families, and the middle class. That's bad. Republicans intend to take the savings and hand the money to the wealthy and corporations in the form of tax cuts. That's worse.

The same GOP budget plan intends to free Wall Street of safeguards and gut environmental protections, not because this will improve the fiscal picture, but because Republican hate regulations. The plan is eager to gut spending across the board, but leave a massive Pentagon budget largely intact, which, again, would seem odd if the fiscal sales pitch were sincere.

The key takeaway, in other words, is understanding exactly what the "cause" is. Ryan wants to "repeal the 20th century," shred the modern social contract, poke gaping holes in the safety net, and change the very nature of how Americans interact with their government — telling the public, "Good luck, you're on your own."

Steve Benen has words of warning for the corporate media which has embraced the GOP agenda of privatizing the entitlement programs of social security and Medicare for years:

Those in the media who are gushing over this plan as if it has something to do with fiscal responsibility aren't just wrong, they're missing the point on a fundamental level.

It matters that this budget plan's numbers don't add up. It matters that it would hurt working families that need help, deliberately targeting low-income Americans. It matters that Medicare would no longer exist if this proposal was somehow approved.

* * *

[W]hat really matters is getting observers to understand what we're fighting about. Congressional Republicans don't care about the deficit; they care about shrinking government to a size in which they can drown it in the bathtub, satisfying an ideological dream.

I have told you many times these are unserious people. They believe in fantasies for which there is no empirical scientific evidence to support, like unicorns. They are ideological extremists on a religious crusade for what they believe as a matter of faith. These people are completely detached from reality and pose a clear and present danger to the health, safety and welfare of our country.

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.


  1. if this were to “somehow” actually pass – it would be treasonous in it’s further destruction of this country.