Thinking About Paul Ryan’s Budget: 2012 Our Last Chance to Stop Collapse?


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John Hinderaker of Powerlineblog had lunch this week with Representative Paul Ryan (Republican) and got a chance to talk with him regarding his fully written and complete budget proposal. Here is how John summarizes Representative Ryan’sapproach to his budget:

The United States has a brief time remaining when we can solve our budgetary crisis without drastic measures. Soon, our debt to GDP ratio will inhibit economic growth, the sheer magnitude of the debt will overwhelm efforts to get it under control, and rising interest rates will crush all other budgetary considerations. For now, we have an opportunity to solve the fiscal crisis without, for example, having to cutSocial Security and Medicare benefits to existing seniors. This is what theHouse Republican budget seeks to do. But that window is rapidly closing.

You can read the rest of the post if you’d like, but let’s pause here and really think about the various points that Representative Ryan is making here. There is extensive research and data out there to back almost all of these points up, but I want to touch on a couple points-

  1. Time is powerful. Small changes to entitlement programs implemented right now will be able to add up over long periods of time to change the trajectory of entitlement programs that are projected at some point in the future to go bankrupt. The sooner we implement these changes, the less drastic and radical these changes will be; but if we delay in implementing changes to make these programs solvent, there is the potential that at some point in the future we will not have programs that are 95% of what they are today but rather will have programs that are 0% of what they are today. Based on estimates and projections by everyone, changes to these entitlement programs need to be made- but only Representative Ryan has put together a comprehensive plan to do so that makes those tough changes.
  2. Debt to GDP, rising debt, and rising interest rates will progressively become a greater and greater burden on our nation and will increasingly make it more difficult to implement reforms, pay down debts, shore up entitlement programs, and maintain the quality of life that Americans expect. Every year that we run a deficit makes the situation worse- already we spent more on interest payments on our debt that we do on a range of programs from NASA to museums- and every year we delay in bringing the budget under control only makes it harder to bring the budget under control the next year. President Obama’s budget proposals in 2012, 2011, and 2010 all failed to balance the budget and ran deficits and added to the national debt, making it progressively and increasingly harder to balance the budget in future years.
  3. 2012 is a critical election. With a Republican Congress with solid majorities in both the House and Senate and a Republican President, our nation will have a fleeting opportunity to pass reforms to shore up the deficit and keep Social Security and Medicare for the future. This will mean difficult decisions today- programs will have to be cut back to the bloated levels they were under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush- but those tough decisions today will mean that citizens of the future might have a slight chance at getting some sort of Social Security or Medicare programs and of not being destroyed under a mountain of debt. But if President Obama wins or the Democrats hold the Senate (or even lose the Senate by a vote or two like I project) or somehow the Democrats take back the House, based on past experience (Democrat control of the Senate since 2007, Democrat control of the House from 2007 to 2011, Democrat control of the Presidency since 2009) we can expect no entitlement reform, budgets that continue to pile up debt, and four more years of lost time to deal with the issues. Our nation can’t afford 4 more years- by then interest rates on the debt will be higher and eat up a higher proportion of our budget, inflation will have set in from the expansion of the money supply, entitlement programs will be drained of more and more cash, etc.
This sucks, and it makes me very angry that my parents and grandparents are going to be dropping this on my generation and my children’s generation. Every single dollar that is spent in debt is a dollar that me and my children owe and will have to pay interest on, undermining our national security and quality of living for services and support which we did not receive nor will we expect to receive in the future. This intergenerational theft that is occurring today is immoral and wrong, and any politician from any party who votes for a dime more in debt is party to this (and this includes the Republicans in the past who voted for Bush/Republican deficit-financed budgets from 2001-2007).

The one hope- and it is a slim one- is that in 2012 we can as a nation do the right thing and vote Republican (or Democrat when and if there are any moderate Democrats who also agree with these views and help Paul Ryan pass his bipartisan and moderate budget).

Ryan’s proposal is full of hope and change– hope that we as a nation can still put in place the reforms needed to strengthen programs like Social Security and Medicare and our military, and change in how our nation goes about funding its business. No more can our nation continue to operate in the old Jimmy Carter/Barack Obamaway of raising taxes, talking down business, inflating the money supply, devaluing the currency, making cuts to our military, and refusing to even discuss reforming collapsing entitlement programs.

The moral and responsible thing to do to make sure that future grandparents have in place an income and healthcare safety net is to begin the conversation of taxing and spending policy with Paul Ryan’s budget. To do any less is to close ones eyes, deny reality, and doom to failure the great progress that our nation has made these years in helping the poor, the needy, the weak, and the aged.

As a Republican, I’m glad to see that people like Paul Ryan in the party, fighting for liberty, the rule of law, and conservative economic principles.

Original Post:  A Conservative Teacher