April 5 2011

The Only Thing Crazier Than Ryan's Cuts

Hadley Heath

"The news said he was suggesting some crazy cuts, but I kind of agree with him!"

Last night I was talking on the phone with a young, moderate friend about the Paul Ryan budget plan.  Yes, the news may say Ryan is crazy, but many moderate Americans will agree with him.

Today I got to hear Ryan explain things himself at an event sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute.  During the event Ryan laid out the basic tenants of his budget plan: spending caps, ObamaCare repeal, tax reform, and ultimately, a return to a vibrant, growing private sector driven by pressures - not from the government - but from the free market.

He said, "It does this, not through indiscriminate cuts, but by targeting wasteful, duplicative government programs."  Comments like these were probably what sparked a question from a Brookings Institute analyst in the audience.  His point was that deep cuts - like those proposed by Ryan - didn't stop at eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse in government, but they actually went as far as to eliminate programming that some Americans like and benefit from.  Ryan's answer was frank: Yes, cuts will hurt. 

The cuts that Ryan has proposed will take Washington out of the business of picking winners and losers.  The winners of today won't like it at first, but reducing government's role in the marketplace will be better for all in the long run.

Ryan's "crazy" proposed cuts are the alternative to the current course.  That we are faced with this kind of extreme choice ("a choice of two futures") is a product of the situation we are in today.  And the situation we are in today is a product of the out-of-control, unsustainable spending that has been coming out of Washington for years.  It's clear to Americans in their personal finances: If you live outside of your means for a while, you will eventually have to live below your means later.  Our government has been operating far outside of its means, and cuts are necessary. 

Therefore, the only thing crazier than making significant spending cuts like Ryan's is this: NOT making spending cuts like Ryan's. 

Millions of Americans understand the dire circumstances we are in.  As the debt grows, so do our interest payments.  Interest on debt is the penalty we pay for our inability to control spending, and money spent on interest is money we cannot spend on our own national priorities.  The current path (the President's proposed FY 2011 budget) will spend our Treasury dry and ultimately take us to a place where our national debt is 800 percent of our GDP. 

Near the end of today's event, Chairman Ryan recalled one of his worst experiences as a Congressman: the economic crash of 2008. He remembered listening to a frazzled Ben Bernanke and other members of Congress talk about how blindsided they were by this unanticipated crash.  But then he said, "What if your Congressman or President knew that a crisis was coming? ...This is the most predictable economic crisis we've ever had."

The mainstream media, and of course the Obama Administration and his liberal allies, will say that Ryan's suggestions are crazy.  But his boldness in taking action is not crazy; it's leadership.  America has been put in a situation where we have one last chance to fix our broken budget now, rather than watch it reach real ruin.  It may take drastic reforms, but the only thing crazier, at this point, is inaction.

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