The GOP's Paul Ryan Problem
Friday, 13 Dec 2013 04:48 PM
By Richard Viguerie
From the Conservative HQ website.
Back in 2011, when Paul Ryan’s name was floated as a possible Republican presidential candidate we said, “Not so fast, Paul” and pointed out that his much ballyhooed “Path to Prosperity” budget plan allowed spending to rise to $4 trillion over the next five years.
Even worse in the minds of fiscal conservatives and limited government constitutional conservatives, Ryan's proposal reduced deficits, but it did not eliminate them until 2040, 27 years from now, according to the CBO analysis.
The Path to Prosperity document included projections for the public debt between 2011 and 2021, and it showed debt going up every single year. Ryan's budget showed the debt increasing to $16.2 trillion in 2012 (we’ve already blown past that) and rising every year after that up to $23.1 trillion in 2021 — and the latest projections show it rising even faster than those made back in 2011.
Despite Ryan’s command of the budget numbers he seems incapable of grasping — or more likely simply ignored — the basic law of Washington spending and politics: for every dollar of revenue raised, spending inevitably goes up more than a dollar.
Back in the late 1980s, Richard Vedder, and Lowell Gallaway of Ohio University, co-authored a study for Congress’ Joint Economic Committee that found that every dollar of new taxes imposed led to more than one dollar of new spending. Over the ensuing years that study has been updated and the results are always the same.
In November 2010, Vedder and The Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore released an updated and more sophisticated version of the study showing that “over the entire post-World War II era through 2009 each dollar of new tax revenue was associated with $1.17 of new spending.
Politicians spend the money as fast as it comes in — and a little bit more.”
What Moore and Vedder found was that no matter how you controlled for the economic variables, spending always went up faster than revenue. The alternative models produce different estimates of the tax-spend relationship — between $1.05 and $1.81. But no matter how they configured the data and no matter what variables they examined, higher tax collections never resulted in less spending.
As Vedder and Moore noted, “The only era in modern times that the budget has been in balance was in the late 1990s, when Republicans were in control of Congress. Taxes were not raised, and the capital gains tax rate was cut in 1997. The growth rate of federal spending was dramatically reduced from 1995-99, and the economy roared.” The sequester worked because it was aimed strictly at the spending side of the federal budget, which is why Democrats hated it.
The problem we have today is that, led by Paul Ryan, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, and the rest of the current House Republican “leadership,” Republicans refuse to hold to the conservative principles that were proven to work back in the late 1990s.
If we were inclined to be charitable we would say that today’s House Republican “leaders” don’t seem to understand that liberals and the Democratic Party exist solely to divide up the spoils extorted from producers by the welfare state and that cutting federal spending undermines their very reason for being.
However, the unholy alliance of House Appropriations Committee members, military industrial complex do-boys, and principle-free professional politicians who came together behind the Ryan spending deal, shows us that deep down inside establishment Republicans are ready to enter into “grand bargains” to raise taxes and increase spending not because they don’t understand, but because they share those same impulses.
The slogan, “Bad, but not as bad as Obama,” isn’t going to elect another Republican president or garner many liberty-minded votes in a congressional election, but that’s where Paul Ryan is taking those House Republicans who drank the Kool-Aid and voted for the deal he “negotiated” with the Democrats.
Paul Ryan’s record of supporting TARP, supporting the Bush administration’s spending binge, supporting the 2011 debt ceiling deal, and now leading the effort to undo the one conservative element of that deal that was actually working, shows that, despite the evidence that he lives his personal life according to conservative principles, he cannot be trusted to lead Republicans to govern America according to limited-government constitutional conservative principles.