The partisan rancor continues over the federal budget battle. Analysts travel out 5, 8, 10 or more years comparing the Obama budget proposal with the Paul Ryan plan and form opinions of the merit of each on that basis. Some people think that Paul Ryan is a hero, taking on entitlements and eviscerating discretionary spending across the board. Others say the Ryan plan is “draconian,” and that it will put millions of poor people out in the street and cause millions of children to go without food.
There is one big problem – all of the “draconian cuts” come after the first year of the plan.
Jonathan Alter, writing for Bloomberg, says that the Ryan plan will fulfill Grover Norquist’s desire to shrink the federal government “down to a size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” While he acknowledges that under the Ryan plan it will take “years” to achieve a balanced budget, he goes on to criticize all of the cuts that will eventually take place and says that his big concern is that the budget plan will actually be implemented if Romney is elected in the fall.
Mitt Romney is sounding a lot more like a fiscal conservative since he began his bid for the Presidency, but his track record hardly argues convincingly that he is in any danger of slashing spending any time soon. Even if he had been a politician with a history of cutting government spending, there is no historical precedent to suggest that on that basis the federal budget is going to be trimmed. With THIS Republican party? Have we forgotten the Bush years so soon?
A friend of mine recently told me that he had a relative who works for the National Weather Service who says that any weather forecast beyond 72 hours is basically fiction. The same is true with budget plans. Anything after the first year in the budget is a fantasy. Where in the Ryan plan will the congress of 2014 be bound to follow its directives? Or the congress of 2015? Or 2018?
In each of those years the congress is going to pass a budget. When the time comes for that budget to be approved they are going to do whatever is politically expedient, just as they always have. Do you remember any talk in this year’s budget debate that congress would have loved to cut spending if it weren’t for the provisions passed in the 2008 budget? Do you honestly think that in 2014 anyone in congress is going to care what was in the Ryan budget of 2012?
We all need to set aside the hysteria – if the Republican party was interested in actually cutting spending on any meaningful scale they would have long ago gotten behind Ron Paul. The proof is plainly evident in the Presidential nominees they have fielded since Ronald Reagan left office: George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, and now Mitt Romney. There is not a fiscal disciplinarian in the lot. A Romney presidency is likely going to look a lot more like a George W. Bush administration than a Calvin Coolidge administration.
Don’t you worry – regardless of whom the American voters elect in November there will be plenty of spending for everyone in the years ahead. That is, until the dollar is destroyed and we are forced to face reality once and for all…