Friday, April 29, 2011

Too Kind To Ryan Update

I think this is worth a separate post. Jonathan Chait dissents from part of my earlier criticism of the Ryan budget. I'm willing to question Chait, or Jonathan Cohn, or even both...but Chait cites his conversations with the folks at CBPP, and I'm pretty reluctant to take on them along with the two main TNR Jonathans. Still...

Here's the gist of it. In my earlier post, the second of my five points against the seriousness of the Ryan plan were accusations that his numbers were "based on" those infamous Heritage projections. Chait, basically, says that they're not based on anything at all:
Ryan did have Heritage 'score" his budget to project massive economic gains. But, as I confirmed with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities the day Ryan's budget came out, he did not use those assumptions to conjure up new revenue out of Lafferite magic. Instead, Ryan just conjures up new revenue out of a magic asterisk. Ryan basically declares that he's going to keep current tax cuts in place, and then lower rates farther still -- to 25% -- and replace all the additional lost revenue by closing unspecified tax deductions. He didn't have Heritage score the tax plan because there really isn't a tax plan at all. It's just a set of goals that he almost certainly cannot meet. What Bernstein's describing is a reliance on unrealistic economic assumptions. Ryan instead relies on unrealistic political assumptions.
Fair enough, and see Paul Krugman for more on the magic asterisk.

But I'm not going to back down all the way on this. To me, the entire exercise of asking Heritage to run the numbers, and then featuring those numbers in his budget document, clearly indicates than when (and if) Ryan gets around to specifying those unspecified tax deductions, he's going to be trying to fill a hole that he's measuring using hocus-pocus. And therefore, he's going to come up short, since we know how that sort of measurement works.

In other words, he may not yet base his estimates on supply-side nonsense, but he's essentially telling us he's planning to. Indeed, it would be inconsistent with thirty years of movement conservative dogma for him to do anything else. Nothing I've seen convinces me he's rejecting that dogma.

For that reason, I'm more or less sticking with what I said.

1 comment:

  1. "Indeed, it would be inconsistent with thirty years of movement conservative dogma for him to do anything else. Nothing I've seen convinces me he's rejecting that dogma."

    more to the point, if by basing his proposals on laffable economic assumptions he means to do some queer postmodern satirical jiujitsu critique of them -- destroying them by his own outrageousness -- the burden of proof is probably on him to make that work. as yet it's too muddled.

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