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I said in this morning’s Clearing the Browser Tabs post that Paul Ryan’s “Pay to Prosperity” budget plan (PDF link) was a humdinger and I wasn’t wrong. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it’s the boldest plan we’ve seen since the 1980s and certainly the most comprehensive in my lifetime.

I’m not just blowing smoke here. Ryan’s plan not only tackles the debt problem (albeit not as quickly as it could), but also tries to fix Medicare and our very real economic growth problem, and it pushes Congress and the President to the table to fix Social Security. It is a real document that looks at real problems in a responsible and grown-up fashion.

That means, of course, that the Democrats can not let it pass. Nancy Pelosi could barely wait until the end of Ryan’s press conference before she hit Twitter with the same old hoary talking points about Republican cruelty to children and old people. Jennifer Rubin has done us the favor of debunking the ten most witless arguments you’ll likely hear against the plan (Pelosi’s talking points fit nicely into Numbers 2 and 9). Smitty also outlines a set of reasons why we can’t truly solve the debt problem unless we tackle the two major entitlement programs now.

I have a lot more to say about Ryan’s plan, including why it should only be the beginning of the spending cuts, but you’ll have to listen to The Delivery tonight (or grab the podcast when it comes out either Wednesday or Thursday) to hear them all.

I’ll give you a little bit now. It’s important that we start thinking of our spending in relation to how much we take in, which is a fairly predictable amount of how much the country produces each year (a little over 19 percent of GDP). If we shift our frame of thinking from dollars to percentages, we can put a real dent in the debt far sooner than even Ryan believes we can by taking spending below that 19 percent figure. Ryan’s plan takes spending to 20 percent of GDP for about a decade, then down to 15 percent. That’s certainly better than the Obama administration’s 23 percent or the recent debt commission’s 21 percent (PDF link), but it’s still a little bit too high because with current revenues well below 19 percent, it means we’ll still have to run deficits for a few more years. I don’t think we need to move that slowly. This post at Ace’s place puts some more numbers to the idea and I’ll add a few of my own, including how steady that 19 percent really is, so be sure to listen!

UPDATE: There is something very important I forgot to mention about Ryan’s plan: It doesn’t actually cut spending. It does slow the rate of increase dramatically (and you see that in the places where the plan compares itself to the President’s budget) but, so far as I can see, it doesn’t require we spend less in any year than we did the year before. At best, it holds spending at a steady rate. Keep that in mind when Democrats talk about “extreme” spending cuts or old people eating dog food.

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One Response to “Ryan’s Bold Plan is a Good Start”

  1. [...] children eating dog food and dying, untended, in the streets. Now where in the world have I read that particular criticism today? I’d say that Democrats really need to focus on their own failure. After all, they [...]

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