Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

April 3, 2014

Ryan's budget proposal shows divide

What’s the difference between Dave Camp and Paul Ryan? Camp is a powerful but obscure Midwestern Republican who has abandoned his ambitions for fiscal reform. Ryan is only semi-obscure.

Ryan, who gained some fame as a vice presidential nominee two years ago, is chairman of the House Budget Committee. Tuesday he released his 2015 budget, and it is essentially a partisan wish list, comforting Republican constituencies and upsetting Democratic ones. It stands in stark contrast to the bold tax- reform plan produced in February by Camp, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which spread its pains and gains more equitably.

Camp, whose plan was subsequently dismissed by no less than House Speaker John Boehner as “blah, blah, blah,” has since decided to leave the House altogether: He announced his retirement Monday. Ryan’s abandonment is more subtle. He’s not leaving Congress — he may even take over Camp’s committee — and he deserves credit for reshaping public debate on debt in recent years. But this budget suggests he has other priorities.

Ryan’s budget proposes a reduction in the top income tax rate to 25 percent from 39.6 percent, an increase in defense spending, and a $5 trillion cut in domestic spending.

over 10 years, including deep cuts to food stamps and other programs that help keep poor households afloat. Ryan’s last budget also required deep cuts — so deep, in fact, that some Republicans who had voted for the budget blueprint balked when it came time for specific appropriations. This year’s version also makes use of something called “dynamic scoring,” a dubious practice that allows Ryan to claim his plan would balance the budget in a decade.

On the positive side, Ryan makes his usual promise to cut farm subsidies, this time to the tune of $23 billion. He would cut $19 billion from the overextended, underutilized U.S. Postal Service. For future retirees currently under the age of 55, he would turn Medicare into a version of the Affordable Care Act, with a public option: Recipients would be able to choose private health plans on the market or retain traditional Medicare.

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