Focus on Budget and Debt

Focus on Budget and Debt

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In an April 6 commentary, Brookings Institution economist Isabel Sawhill branded the budget plan proposed by House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., on April 5 as “an ideological manifesto for a Tea-Party-dominated Republican Party.”

Also on April 6, Brookings Institution economist Alice Rivlin told the Washington Post that she does not support the version of Medicare privatization put forward in the Ryan budget plan even though Ryan has said publicly that she does.

And on April 6, Christopher Preble of the Cato Institute criticized the Ryan plan for giving the Defense Department a “free pass” on budget cuts.

In an April 6 commentary, Harvard economist Jeff Frankel attacked the Ryan budget plan as anything but fiscally conservative. If it was, it would have cut defense spending and raised taxes rather than cutting them, he said.

An April 6 analysis of the Ryan budget plan by the Washington Post found that it “relies on dubious assertions, questionable assumptions and fishy figures.”

On April 5, House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan released a long-term budget plan which would effectively abolish Medicare and Medicaid while slashing tax rates.

Also on April 5, the Heritage Foundation published a study of the Ryan plan which found implausibly large positive economic effects. The Economist magazine called them “simply outlandish.” In an April 6 commentary, economist Paul Krugman showed that Heritage had retroactively edited its results to remove estimates related to the unemployment rate. That same day, an analysis by the Center for American Progress reviewed the Heritage projections and found them “not just fantastical, they are wildly fantastical.”

And on April 5, the Congressional Budget Office issued a preliminary analysis of the Ryan plan. It finds that the national debt as a share of GDP would be higher in 2022 than it would be under baseline budget projections, largely due to a very large tax cut proposed by Ryan as part of his budget plan.

An April 4 YouGov poll found that an overwhelming majority of people favor large budget cuts. However, majorities also favor increased spending for education and medical research, and a strong plurality favor increased spending on clean energy technology. A majority support cutting spending for high speed rail and high speed Internet access.

I last posted items on this topic on April 5.

Bruce Bartlett is an American historian and columnist who focuses on the intersection between politics and economics. He  blogs daily  and writes a  weekly column  at The Fiscal Times. Bartlett has written for Forbes Magazine and Creators Syndicate, and his work is informed by many years in government, including as a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House. He is the author of seven books including the New York Times best-seller, Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (Doubleday, 2006). 

Bruce Bartlett’s columns focus on the intersection of politics and economics. The author of seven books, he worked in government for many years and was senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House.