Home > Bruce Bartlett, Entitlements, Forbes, Paul Ryan, Tea Party > Barlett on Ryan’s Budget

Barlett on Ryan’s Budget

At Forbes, Bruce Bartlett shares his thoughts on Paul Ryan’s budget. It seems that the major problem with Ryan’s budget according to Bartlett is its political infeasibility. I actually agree with that critique, but having a sitting politician offer a plan like this might push our other politicians to recognize the absolute necessity of reforming our entitlements. Bartlett is almost certainly correct that taxes have to rise at some point to deal with the coming fiscal reckoning – the Ryan plan is too idealistic on this issue.


Yet, I’d be curious if politicians and the media just pretended that it wasn’t impossible if something dramatic could happen. Why couldn’t a reform like this be structured so it didn’t affect voters close enough to retirement to care? Is the bill written like that now? Are that many people going to be against a similar plan to overhaul our entitlements (it doesn’t have to be the Ryan plan) if it doesn’t affect them? I’m naive. I know.

Sadly, it doesn’t seem that many are brave enough to get behind a plan like Ryan offers (despite what Krugman argues). Certainly the Tea Partyers are once again exposed as unserious about real governing and addicted the shallowest of platitudes.

In my opinion, support for the Ryan plan must be the minimum requirement for anyone who considers themselves members of the tea party brigade and any politician seeking its endorsement. If those like former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, the current darling of the tea party crowd, are unwilling to immediately and unequivocally endorse the Ryan plan or put forward something equally serious and comprehensive, then in my opinion they have no credibility on the budget and no right to oppose the sorts of tax increases that I believe are unavoidable.

Again, I’m pleased that a Republican has offered an earnest bill that can be criticized on its merits (not just the politics of it).

Workers would also likely see a sharp reduction in their health benefits as well because Ryan would abolish the tax exclusion for health insurance. In other words, workers would have to treat whatever their employer pays for health insurance as if it were cash income. Workers would instead receive a new tax credit not to exceed $5,700 per family. It is not clear whether the credit amount would be indexed to inflation. This provision would constitute a significant tax increase for many workers.

Keep the plans coming and maybe everyone will forget just long enough about the politics and actually govern as adults.
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