The Spectacle Blog

The Roadmap to Defending the 2012 GOP Budget

By on 4.5.11 | 6:09AM

Paul Ryan's Wall Street Journal op-ed isn't just a synposis of the House Budget Committee chairman's 2012 proposal and long-term spending blueprint. It's a preview of how Ryan and company intend to sell the plan to independent voters and defend it from an all-out liberal assault. A few points:

  • More than entitlements: Because the Path to Prosperity reforms two out of the three biggest entitlement programs, detractors will focus on the reductions to social welfare spending. But Ryan emphasizes reform to farm subsidies, cuts to corporate welfare, and shrinking the federal workforce through attrition.
  • Not even the Pentagon goes unscathed: It accepts Defense Secretary Robert Gates' "plan to  target inefficiencies" in defense spending. Remains to be seen what that means for defense spending in general, though in the past Ryan had suggested such savings be reinvested in legitimate defense  expenditures rather than used for deficit reduction.
  • Medicaid reforms part of welfare reform: Not only does Ryan couple the Medicaid plan with reforms to the food stamp program, but by invoking the example of welfare reform in the 1990s he associates  it with the success of block granting to the states and no longer rewarding increased caseloads. This also can serve to remind us that many of the same commentators and activists making dire predictions about this Medicaid proposal were also predicting Calcutta-like conditions in U.S. cities as a result of the 1996 federal welfare reform law.
  • Emphasize choice and premium support in Medicare: Ryan accurately makes use of a favorite public option supporter talking point: "Starting in 2022, new Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled in the same kind of health-care program that members of Congress enjoy." Talks about offering the most support for the poorest and sickest retirees, and leaving those currently at or near retirement alone.
  • Jobs and income growth: Ryan touts a study by the Heritage Center for Data Analysis projecting the plan will help create nearly 1 million new private-sector jobs next year; 2.5 million new jobs in the final year of this decade; will lower the unemployment rate to 4 percent by 2015; will help spur $1.5 trillion in additional economic growth and $1.1 trillion in higher wages over a decade; will add an average of $1,000 in additional family income each year.

Another good line contrasting the entitlement reforms with the cuts to corporate welfare, reforms of Fannie and Freddie, and end to the permanent Wall Street bailout authority: "As we strengthen and improve welfare programs for those who need them, we eliminate welfare for those who don't."

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