Monday, August 8, 2011

Catch of the Day

I'm mostly over at Plum Line today, but I'll sneak back over here to do a quick CotD: to Steve Benen, who catches Paul Ryan talking about revenues as if he might support a compromise...but not really:
As the right-wing Wisconsinite sees it, Democrats can have their new revenue if the revenue comes by way of policies Republicans like. Ryan sets an absurd goal — lowering spending to 20% of GDP — and ties this to smoke and mirrors. Note that first paragraph in particular: revenues must come from economic growth.
 Of course, this is the whole problem; the official Republican position for years has basically been that the only way to get more government revenues is to lower taxes. Of course there's no empirical support for the idea whatsoever.

And it's important to note that it makes compromise very, very, difficult. Whatever Republicans really believe, as long as their position is that the only way to get revenues is to cut taxes, when in fact that's not so, there's very little ground for agreement. I should note, by the way, that some liberals play the same game -- if you cut spending on such-and-such preventative measure, it will only cost the government more in the long run as whatever it is gets worse and produces long-run costs. I would say that there's at least more basis for truth in that story, but it doesn't lead liberals to demand no cuts in any program ever, or that every cut of every program is really a spending increase.

Anyway: nice catch!


  1. Ryan's whole philosophy is backed up by delusional assumptions. This is from the National Journal in April, about where the numbers for Ryan's budget come from:

    "The unemployment rate will plunge by 2.5 percentage points. The still-sinking housing market will roar back in a brand new boom. The federal government will collect $100 billion more in income tax revenues than it otherwise would have. And that's just in the first year. By 2015, the forecasters say, unemployment will fall to 4 percent. By 2021, it will be a nearly unprecedented 2.8 percent."

  2. I think you're misinterpreting Ryan here. Yes, some people on the right have argued that lower rates pay for themselves, but most only go as far as saying lower rates don't lower the total take as much as a static analysis would imply and higher rates don't increase it as much. When Ryan talks about comprehensive tax reform, I interpret that as broadening the base by removing a lot of tax expenditure (or 'targeted tax cuts' as Clinton dubbed it). You could do that in a way that is revenue-neutral on a static basis, but if it leads to more growth then everyone wins.

    You may or may not buy that argument in the end, but it shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.

  3. You're on the wrong blog, MP. Everyone here dismisses it out of hand, and they dismiss some extreme, caricaturized version of it, too.


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