Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fiscal Flimflam, Revisited

Paul Krugman, NYT
August 13, 2014 12:23 pm

Brad DeLong reminds us of the original Ryan budget plan — or actually “plan”, as I’ll explain — and emphasizes its dire warnings about a looming debt crisis that wasn’t. But pointing out that the debt panic was unjustified only gets at part of what was wrong with that Ryan budget (and all his subsequent proposals). For the fact is that it wasn’t a proposal made in good faith.

As I and others pointed out at the time, when you looked at the substance of what Ryan was proposing, it didn’t at all match up to his supposed deep concern over the deficit. Specifically, in the first decade he proposed savage cuts in aid to the poor, but he also proposed huge tax cuts for the rich — and the tax cuts for the rich were bigger than the aid cuts for the poor, so that the specifics of the plan were actually deficit-increasing, not deficit-reducing.

So how did he claim otherwise? By declaring that he would make his tax cuts deficit-neutral by closing loopholes — but he refused to say anything about which loopholes he would close; and by claiming that he would make huge cuts in discretionary spending, again without specifying what he would cut. So the budget was essentially a con job.

Now, when I say things like that, people start howling about lack of civility. But I wasn’t insulting someone for the sake of insult; if you didn’t understand the essential dishonesty of the plan, you weren’t getting the story right. Yes, I could have used diffident language — but why? Readers deserve to be told clearly what is going on.

(More here.)

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