Politico reports today that Republican Ron Paul will announce a deficit reduction plan that cuts one trillion dollars, and purports to balance the budget. The report lists some specifics, which are not surprising coming from Paul:
Many of the ideas are familiar from Paul’s staunch libertarianism, as well as tea party favorites like eliminating the departments of education and energy. But Paul goes further: he’ll propose immediately freezing spending by numerous government agencies at 2006 levels, the last time Republicans had complete control of the federal budget, and drastically reducing spending elsewhere. The EPA would see a 30 percent cut, the Food and Drug Administration would see one of 40 percent and foreign aid would be zeroed out immediately. He’d also take an ax to Pentagon funding for wars.
Medicaid, the children’s health insurance program, food stamps, family support programs and the children’s nutrition program would all be block-granted to the states and removed from the mandatory spending column of the federal budget. Some functions of eliminated departments, such as Pell Grants, would be continued elsewhere in the federal bureaucracy.
Ron Paul has supported these types of cuts/changes for some time. So why post on them?
Ron Paul supports a balanced budget, and does not favor any increases in revenue. So in that respect he is very similar to the other Republican candidates for the Presidential nomination. Where he is different is that he is quite willing to show everybody what that vision means for the budget. And that is what is missing from standard Republican responses on the budget and debt. Honesty.
Most Republicans today say that they support a “balanced budget amendment” to the U.S. Constitution. Of course the version they are selling makes it difficult to raise revenues, so the balance would come from budget cuts alone. But that is as far as the Republicans will go. They have not produced a budget proposal that balances the federal budget. Even Paul Ryan’s plan left trillions in long term debt. Now why do you suppose the Republicans advocate for a balanced budget amendment, but will not file a proposal to actually balance the budget? Is it because it would, by necessity, have to look somewhat similar to the plan put out by Ron Paul? How would the defense hawks in the Republican Party react when you told them of the tremendous cuts in defense spending that will be required to balance the budget without revenues? Block grant Medicaid and Medicare? Lets see how folks respond to those proposals. The numbers do not lie. Without a balanced approach that includes some new revenues you cannot balance the federal budget without imposing something similar to the Ron Paul approach.
So what about the Democrats? Are they not guilty of fuzzy math on balancing the federal budget? Sure, they absolutely are. But the Democrats, rightly or wrongly, do not advocate for immediately balancing the federal budget. It is the Republicans who have made this the (undetailed) centerpiece of their political rhetoric. Why don’t the Republicans produce a balanced budget proposal? Why do they hesitate? Maybe the details of the Ron Paul plan offer us the answer to that question.