Commentary Magazine


RE: A Party of Ideas

While I have yet to read the whole thing, Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity strikes me as a quite workable proposal, remarkably free of pie in the sky, smoke and mirrors, and bloviation. It attacks the problem of government finances from both the revenue and expense ends. It reforms a tax code that is a tissue of special-interest loopholes, and lowers rates to stimulate investment. It reduces spending by more than anyone thought it would—$6.2 trillion over ten years. And it fundamentally changes the design of entitlement programs, especially the disastrous fee-for-service model of Medicare that makes it almost impossible to rein in costs and invites fraud.

If only it stripped politicians of the power to decide how the government’s books are kept! Maybe next year.

To watch the Democrats respond will be interesting. They have already put forth a proposal for the 2012 budget that is a monument to the fiscal habits that got us into this mess to begin with. A serious counterproposal from them is unlikely. The left side of American politics has not had a new idea in decades, and on fiscal matters it is strictly Johnny-one-note: “Raise taxes on the rich!” Of course, that note is not exactly new, since it was first advocated by Karl Marx in the 1840’s as a way to destabilize the economic system and advance the cause of socialism.

So that leaves two options. First is a serious critique of Ryan’s proposal, pointing out its flaws and suggesting alternatives. The second is demagogy. I’d love to be proved wrong, but I am betting on the latter. Prepare to hear about grandma freezing in her bed, the poor dying in the streets for lack of medical care, and societal collapse if the government were to return to the spending levels of 2006.