Friday, October 12, 2012

Will Paul Ryan's Budgetary Lies Haunt Romney

They will, if the media does its job. The media should hold Romney's feet to the fire until he identifies enough loopholes and deductions he will ask Congress to close to make his "budget" work.

Ryan was repeatedly challenged to identify the tax deductions he and Romney propose to eliminate to "pay for" their massive tax cut. Predictably, Ryan refused to identify a single one. Even when asked if he would protect the mortgage interest deduction for households earning less than $100,000, he refused to answer.

Here's the thing: There's no way on God's green Earth that Romney and Ryan are the know-nothings they pretend to be on this subject. They're cowards, not idiots. They have specific deductions in mind - probably not enough to make their proposal work, but they do have ideas. They won't name them - beyond some lame demagoguery about Obamacare (which is projected to decrease the deficit) and PBS (whose federal funding is less than a rounding error) - because they're afraid that specifics will cause their bad arithmetic to turn them into budgetary laughing stocks, that their proposed cuts will prove so unpopular that candor costs them the election, or more likely both.

It was fascinating to hear Ryan complaining that the CBO wasn't able to score a speech by President Obama, because they had neither been asked to score anything nor given data to score, and because the speech itself was short of specifics. You know what? To the extent that a politician is making a budget or spending proposal I agree with Ryan that the specifics should be shared, and I agree that when those specifics are produced the CBO should score them. Where I don't agree with Ryan is that the rule should only apply to Democrats. Man up, Mr. Ryan, and submit your latest, detailed budget proposal to the CBO for scoring.

You have to appreciate the audacity, presenting a caricature of Obama's tax proposals then whining that taxes on the wealthy won't be sufficient to close the deficit (as if anybody claimed they were), and in almost the next breath pretending that you can pay for Medicare at its present levels by trimming benefits for the wealthy. You know what? When you target the wealthy it's either class warfare or it isn't, and you promise on top of that "class warfare" to fix the most significant budgetary problem we face, projected Medicare costs, by reducing benefits for wealthy people you are engaging in the very act you misattribute to the other side - because as you've already admitted, the dollars aren't there.

And to keep resorting to the tired distortion about the "$716 billion cut" to Medicare that Ryan included in his own budget, pretending that in Democratic hands a cut he explicitly endorsed through that adoption will devastate seniors? Talk about chutzpah.

Ryan kept complaining that accurate descriptions of his proposals would scare people, suggesting that it was wrong to scare voters. Clever, really, and I expect some people will actually fall for it.

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