Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ryan gives away the game

The Tax Policy Center study from a couple weeks ago greatly increased the pressure on Romney to firm up his tax policy plans by showing those plans seem to be mathematically impossible.  Despite voters' legitimate concerns about what a Romney presidency would mean to their taxes, his running mate told Fox News that they won't decide on their tax policy until after the election.  But that somehow doesn't stop them from making specific promises, like the share that wealthy people pay won't go down, and it will be revenue-neutral.  Hopefully as more voters start engaging in the race it will become untenable to not release a detailed plan.

Romney's promises on the spending side are also starting to get more scrutiny.  An excellent article by Ezra Klein breaks down the implications of Romney's claims to cap federal spending at 20% while restoring $700 billion to Medicare, not cutting anything from Medicare or Social Security and actually expanding our military spending.  Klein's calculations show that the rest of the budget, which includes student loans, the EPA, veterans' benefits, the VA and, well, everything else, would have to be cut by 40% by 2016 and by 57% by 2022.

Promises to balance the budget within 8-10 years don't look so good when you have to tell people about the costs.

In the Fox News interview, Ryan admits that they have no idea when the budget would be balanced  if they were elected, as they "haven't run the numbers".  One would think that having an economic plan would necessarily involve running the numbers, at least to the degree where you'd have a pretty good idea when your "revenue" and "expenditure" lines might cross.  If you haven't run the numbers, why should anyone pay any attention to what you say you can deliver?

It really is remarkable to watch Ryan dance around the emptiness of his position.  Watch the next minute or so starting at 4:48 in the interview.  I really can't imagine Republicans can feel good about that exchange.  This is their budgetary wunderkind demonstrating he has no earthly idea what sort of budget Mitt Romney might propose.

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