House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R. Wis.) is treating Americans like grownups. That’s all too rare.
Washington’s big spenders have responded with their usual tired clichés.
"Pulling the rug out from under seniors,” says Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D.-Mich.).
“Waging war on American workers,” says Rep. Xavier Becerra (D.-Calif.).
“A path to poverty for America’s seniors and children,” claims House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.).
"The Tea Party has hijacked the Republican caucus," says House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D.-Md.)
Pee Wee Herman could have delivered more creative comebacks. But treating the electorate like adults is uncommon in Washington, D.C. Ryan’s plan should be rated at least R for Realism, while the dismissive comments are PG for Politically Guided.
Ryan’s plan is a big deal. A very big deal. Its proposed $6.2 trillion of savings over 10 years (measured against Obama’s budget) is literally 100 times larger than the $61 billion that the GOP hopes to cut this year—and is struggling against ferocious Democrat resistance.
Revising Medicare to a defined contribution plan is a good course to pursue, and of course a tough sell. But that change makes a huge difference in controlling spending and reducing deficits. The same with Ryan’s goal of giving states full flexibility over Medicaid, in exchange for limiting federal costs.
As noted by The Heritage Foundation’s annual Index of Dependency, people’s unhealthy dependence on government is skyrocketing. Ryan would address that and more.
Spending limitations, rollbacks, and freezes. Repeal of ObamaCare. Cutting corporate welfare (including farm subsidies) as well as overly generous giveaways to individuals. Structural reform for federal health care programs, which are the biggest runaway spending items. Ryan’s plan gets serious in a way nobody else has.
But his “Path to Prosperity” is about economic growth, not just spending. Tax simplification is one aspect, and so is lowering corporate taxes so businesses are not pushed overseas by what is now the world’s highest rate. A Heritage Foundation analysis finds this would create a million jobs a year for starters, and double that rate in short order.
It’s not perfect. Our national defense needs are greater than Ryan's projects. Social Security’s problems are not addressed. And welfare reform should go beyond what he lays out.
But Ryan’s proposal is strong medicine that we need, not the pandering and politically correct placebos that his plan’s opponents are already peddling.
We live in a time when cute sound bites substitute for debate, and false claims are used to justify inaction, despite our fiscal crisis. While most of his critics carp without offering any alternative, Ryan has delivered a needed challenge before we fall totally over the fiscal cliff.
Paul Ryan respects Americans—especially taxpayers. He speaks to us like adults. For the rest of Washington, it’s time to put away childish things.
Ernest Istook is a distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
First appeared in Human Events