To....Paul Ryan. For: "This is not a budget. This is a cause."
Now, I don't mean this in the sense that, say, deficit idealist Dana Millbank does -- that Ryan doesn't cut the deficit enough. No, personally, I'm pretty happy with his supposed ten-year deficit number (at least the CBO version of it), if I'm just looking at that, and I don't much believe or really care about deficit projections thirty, forty, or fifty years into the future.
No, it's "not a budget" in the sense that a real budget has reasonably detailed plans for spending and revenues. Ryan's "budget" document released yesterday was long -- very long -- on rhetoric, but failed to meet that basic definition. On discretionary spending, Ryan at least had spending caps with a promise of sequestration to enforce them...but as I said yesterday, that's never proven to be effective, and Ryan was notably unforthcoming with his own preferences of how to meet the caps. Still, at least there's something.
The revenue side is just a black box. We're given revenue targets, but no specifics about how Ryan would get there. Matt Yglesias, reading it, concludes that there must be a hidden middle class tax hike in order to meet the target revenues. I disagree! I think the whole thing is smoke and mirrors; Ryan is planning to meet the revenue target the way David Stockman and Mitch Daniels planned to do it, by believing that anything conservatives like is certain, just certain, to unleash record-breaking economic growth and therefore solve every problem from teenage acne to the back end of the Yankees rotation, and incidentally showed the treasury with revenues. But, sure, Yglesias could be right; the problem is that we have no way of knowing, because this isn't a real budget.
It's not a budget. It's a cause. Get that, and you'll understand what's going on.