Boo Jonathan Rauch
By Arnold Kling
I often like him, but not this column, in which he writes,
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, who recently unveiled a new edition of what he calls a “Road Map for America’s Future.” Its willingness to reform entitlement programs is laudable. But it keeps taxes at 19 percent of gross domestic product while raising (repeat: raising) federal spending from 21.6 percent of GDP in 2012 to more than 24 percent in the 2030s. It balances the budget, all right — in 2063.
So Ryan is just another big-spending hypocrite, right? But in the baseline scenario according to the Committee on the Fiscal Future, which in turn is based on the CBO baseline, spending rises to 28 percent of GDP in 2030. If this is 24 percent in 2030 in Ryan’s roadmap, then his roadmap represents a significant cut relative to the baseline.
Thanks to Tyler Cowen for the pointer. The rest of the Rauch’s piece is worse. He is denouncing the populist right as reflecting nothing but irrational anger.
If you want to see irrationality, look at the health care reform plan. The cuts proposed in Medicare are supposed to do two things at once: “bend the cost curve” to stabilize Medicare; and fund a new entitlement. They can do one or the other, but not both. (In fact, to the extent that they are not realistic cuts, they will do neither.)
Yes, the Republicans have been fiscally irresponsible, too. That is why the populist movement has taken on the character that it has. The Tea Partiers are plenty skeptical of mainstream Republicans, and who can blame them?
Rauch believes that the populist right is unhinged, because it is anti-elitist. But look again at the path for fiscal policy under the baseline scenario. I am pretty sure it means that the U.S. will experience a debt crisis by 2030. I am no populist, but at this point the elite seems to me in no position to be calling anyone else unhinged.