Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, plans to unveil his new budget framework on Tuesday, and on Monday night he outlined his plan in a Wall Street Journal op-ed — though that was probably unnecessary. Americans should already be familiar with many aspects of the budget, since it includes proposals to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid that are almost exactly the same as last year’s the Republican presidential platform, as well as several other ideas that Democrats thought were rejected when the Romney-Ryan ticket lost.
Once major difference is that while the framework Ryan presented last year would have balanced the budget by 2040, the new budget would do so in a decade. Ryan writes:
Our opponents will shout austerity, but let’s put this in perspective. On the current path, we’ll spend $46 trillion over the next 10 years. Under our proposal, we’ll spend $41 trillion. On the current path, spending will increase by 5% each year. Under our proposal, it will increase by 3.4%. Because the U.S. economy will grow faster than spending, the budget will balance by 2023, and debt held by the public will drop to just over half the size of the economy.
He proposes that this can be achieved by increasing oil drilling, enacting welfare reform that “gives states flexibility so they can tailor programs like Medicaid and food stamps to their people’s needs,” rewriting the tax code to close loopholes, and going down to only two tax brackets, 10 percent and 25 percent. Starting in 2024, retirees would be given “premium supports” (which opponents call vouchers) to subsidize the purchase of insurance, giving seniors a range of options in addition to Medicare. The budget also assumes that Obamacare will be repealed, which left even Fox New Sunday host Chris Wallace dumbfounded. (Interestingly, Ryan is far more accepting of the $600 billion in tax hikes adopted in the fiscal cliff deal, without which his budget wouldn’t balance.)
Ryan concludes the op-ed by preemptively taunting Senate Democrats over the budget they plan to introduce on Wednesday, which will be their first in four years. “I hate to break the suspense, but their budget won’t balance — ever,” says Ryan. It’s true that Democrats’ framework would never balance, but in their defense, Ryan’s wouldn’t either, as it relies on circumstances that will never come to pass. “It’s almost as if the election never happened,” House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer told the Washington Post. “While this budget purports to balance within in 10 years, on a practical level, it could not be implemented.”