Dep’t of Magical Thinking

Paul Ryan’s numbers simply don’t add up. Time for Serious People to say so out loud.

Paul Ryan’s bold, courageous, grown-up, responsible, adult, serious budget plan is mostly based on bullsh!t. 4% unemployment in 2015? Puh-leeeese! Ryan claims to “save” $1.4 trillion over a decade by repealing the Access to Care Act; but CBO scored the Act as saving $230 billion over that period. And $1.8 trillion – more than the entire net reduction in the deficit, once Ryan has finished with his tax giveaways for the rich – comes from unspecified cuts. The Magic Asterisk flies again!

If folks like the Pete Peterson Foundation want to be taken seriously as proponents of fiscal responsibility, they can’t treat Ryan’s proposal as anything but a joke.

Update Paul Krugman has more details. As commenter Benny Lava notes, unemployement is supposed to be below 3% in 2021. Is there a Pulitzer for bamboozlement?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

2 thoughts on “Dep’t of Magical Thinking”

  1. There is magical thinking everywhere: the Reeps think that no level of taxes higher than current is acceptable, so it must be possible to deliver the government the public wants for the revenue delivered by current (or less!) taxation, the Dems think that no level of services lower than current (Plus! Obamacare!) is acceptable, and since they are running into resistance to tax increases they want to keep borrowing money to keep it going. Both remind me of the old Stalin notion that no country can ever leave Communism. Both parties are nominating people who are further from the center than the median voter would prefer, due I think to each party’s relatively extreme primary electorate.

    I thought Peterson’s response was okay. I liked “President Obama and Congress must work toward agreement on a set of solutions that build a solid fiscal foundation to ensure economic prosperity for our future. Any viable plan must address all of the drivers of our long-term debt and be done in a way that maintains a social safety net for Americans who need it. We can no longer afford inaction. ”

    I think Ryan is ideologically blinded to the necessity of raising taxes – or strategic, maybe, in forcing the Dems to propose them. The Dems have their own problems on taxes, with an ideological idea that no new tax proposal can be other than progressive, and by the way let’s tax the billionaires – we need taxes which discourage waste (gasoline tax! road tolls! end the mortgage tax deduction! Wall Street transation tax!) more than we need another ten per cent from George Soros/Koch brothers.

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