Any political document that opens with a Bush-Cheney-Iraq-al-Qaeda-like conflation is bound to close with at least equal disingenuity and betwixt be stuffed with all manner of misdirection and disinformation. Today's WSJ op-ed--"The GOP Plan to Balance the Budget by 2023"--is such a document, but because it comes from the pre-discredited Paul Ryan, it is less objectionable than simply laughable.
Clearly, the budget process is broken. In four of the past five years, the president has missed his budget deadline. Senate Democrats haven't passed a budget in over 1,400 days. By refusing to tackle the drivers of the nation's debt--or simply to write a budget--Washington lurches from crisis to crisis.
Yes does that not explain our crisis-to-crisis S.O.P. since, in reality, the GOP's 2011 House invasion (and not the last four or five years)? Missed presidential budget deadlines and 1,400 days of Senate Democrats' idleness? Neatly slip "drivers of the nation's debt" in there, followed immediately by another reference to budget-writing failures, and there you go: a comprehensive explanation of Washington's crisis-lurching--which has absolutely nothing to do with Washington's crisis-lurching. But damn it sounds good.
Ryan proceeds to announce that his "budget matches spending with income." Why not aim to match income with spending, given that government's income has fallen (rather, taken a Republican pounding) while spending has remained relatively stable? Ryan doesn't say. He does, however, say this:
By giving families stability and protecting them from tax hikes, our budget will promote a healthier economy and help create jobs.
What's his evidence for this? He has none. In fact the available evidence (see Europe) is that his austerity program would devastate the economy and dynamite jobs. But let's do keep in mind that Ryan's budget is no budget. It's a political document as economically grounded as Huey Long's "Share Our Wealth" scheme, which was merely a vehicle for Long's presidential ambitions.
And there's this classic passage, also worthy of Huey:
The other side will warn of a relapse into recession--just as they predicted economic disaster when the budget sequester hit.
Note the subtle inversion. No, no, Paul. "The other side" didn't predict "economic disaster" when the sequester hit; it predicted the witless, unnecessary, near-recessionary-relapsing drags of roughly 750,000 eventually lost jobs and about a half-percentage point shaved from GDP, both of which are indeed stupidly gaining steam as I write. The other side does envision economic disaster--no mere "relapse into recession"--as well as severe social implosions, however, should your side, Mr. Ryan, ever, God forbid, regain the helm.
Ryan closes with this humorous piece of shi , ahem, risible self-promotion:
A balanced budget isn't unprecedented.... House Republicans' last two budgets balanced, too--albeit at a later date.... We're offering a credible plan for all the country to see.
... "albeit at a later date", or, albeit three decades later (or 17 years later, however you wish to interpret it)--which is to chronology what his latest plan is to credibility.