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Fun Facts About Representative Ryan

Monday, 30 April 2012 05:38

The NYT ran a profile of House Republican Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan today. It misrepresented some important features of Representative Ryan's budget plan.

For example, while it told readers that the plan would, "reduce domestic federal spending to its smallest share of the economy since World War II." it failed to point out that it would essentially eliminate all areas of the federal government, except Social Security, Medicare and other health care spending, and the military.

The Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Ryan budget, which was done under his direction, shows all non-health care, non-Security Security spending shrinking to 4.5 percent of GDP by 2040 and to 3.75 percent of GDP by 2050. The military budget is currently over 4.0 percent of GDP and has never been less than 3.0 percent of GDP since the start of the Cold War.

Assuming that Ryan keeps military spending in its historic range (he has indicated that he would), this implies the elimination of almost the whole federal government. His budget would leave no room for federal support of education, roads, bridges and other infrastructure, the federal court system, the Food and Drug Administration, the national park system and everything else associated with the federal government. It would have been useful to point this fact out to readers in a lengthy piece that attempted to give readers a sense of Representative Ryan's vision.

The piece was also misleading when it told readers that:

"he has proposed collapsing today’s six personal income tax rates into two, 10 percent and 25 percent."

The number of tax brackets is trivial. The more important feature of Representative Ryan's tax plan is that it would reduce the tax rate faced by the wealthy from 39.6 percent under current law to 25.0 percent. This implies an enormous tax cut for the wealthiest people in the country.

If this tax cut is offset by eliminating tax breaks, as Representative Ryan claims would be the case, then it would imply large increases on middle class families through the elimination of tax breaks such as the mortgage interest deduction and the deduction for employer provided health insurance.

It would have useful to tell readers that Representative Ryan wants to finance large tax cuts for the wealthy with big tax increases on the middle class. That is presumably an important part of his philosophy.

Comments (13)Add Comment
Two more misleading 'facts' in NYT piece
written by Robert Salzberg, April 30, 2012 7:58
 !.  Ryan plans to "simplify the tax code".  As Dr. Dean Baker has previously pointed out, reducing the tax brackets from 6 to 2 looks like simplification but has no functional effect on making tax preparation easier for anyone. 

   The second way Ryan proposes to simplify is by closing loopholes.  But because there are hundreds of loopholes to choose from and because Representative Ryan isn't on record for closing a single one of them, the NYT shouldn't give Ryan credit for a proposal without any details.  It's like me saying I plan to lose 20 pounds by Summer but also saying I have no specific plans to eat less or exercise more.

  2.  Ryan will "maintain the same flow of revenue".  From the summary of the CBO analysis:

"Those calculations do not represent a cost estimate for legislation or an analysis of the effects of any given policies. In particular, CBO has not considered whether the specified paths are consistent with the policy proposals or budget figures released today by Chairman Ryan as part of his proposed budget resolution.

The amounts of revenues and spending to be used in these calculations for 2012 through 2022 were provided by Chairman Ryan and his staff."

   So the CBO specifically did not analyze the policies of the Ryan budget, and further, they simply inserted the numbers provided by Chairman Ryan and the Budget Committee.

   In particular, the Ryan budget predicts that revenues as a percentage of GDP will increase from 15.4% in 2011 to 18% in 2014.  This miraculous revenue growth is accomplished because the CBO just inserted the figures provided by Ryan.  Or in simple terms, because the revenue increase is just made up.

  So Representative Ryan says he'll make tax reform revenue neutral and predicts revenue as a percentage of GDP will increase dramatically in the next couple of years.  Why didn't the NYT ask how that's possible?

   The only logical way to increase revenue as a percentage of GDP as much as Ryan predicts without raising effective tax rates is for a large number of Americans to suddenly have their wages increase enough to put them into higher tax brackets.   The chances of that happening under Ryan's budget are slim and none.
I call your B.S. and raise it...
written by ComradeAnon, April 30, 2012 8:22
First, I will cure Cancer then create free and non-polluting source of energy. And give everyone a flying car.
And yet, the mortgage deduction is also more beneficial to wealthy than to middling, Low-rated comment [Show]
Mortgage deduction
written by Dennis Doubleday, April 30, 2012 9:08
@rachel: you are confusing the super-wealthy with the merely very well off. Yes, the mortgage deduction benefits those in the +100K/year range more than those with lower income. But the mortgage deduction is almost an inconsequential factor to the 1%, and especially to the 0.1%. And those are the people whose interests Ryan represents.

In any case, don't give him credit for loophole closing that he doesn't even publicly support.
That Paul Ryan is not
written by ed ericson, April 30, 2012 12:20
universally reviled as a tawdry, beady-eyed, ferret-faced little fraud says little about Ryan and much about the institution he represents--and the institution reporting on that institution.

Not since the heyday of the Tofflers and Newt Gingrich has pseudointellectual BS been so respected by people whose mothers must have taught them better.
As another Paul once said ...
written by David, April 30, 2012 1:53
"And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:14)

Here's a more sober look at Mr. Ryan and the strength of his charisma. http://nymag.com/news/features/paul-ryan-2012-5/
written by S.D. Jeffries, April 30, 2012 4:51
Good grief - from the New York Times, no less.
To quote Brad DeLong, "Why or why can't we have a better press corps?"
Where they're going with all this...
written by Doc at the Radar Station, April 30, 2012 7:16
They want all the poor people to have to pay tolls to get out of their designated neighborhoods, county, whatever. They want all the poor people to have to pay a big entrance fee to the former national parks that the states took over, who later couldn't afford to run them and had to sell them to Disney.
Greatest Thinker
written by James, April 30, 2012 10:53
Paraphrase: "Ayn Rand is the greatest thinker. She is the single person that has the greatest influence on me. She strongly rejects collectivism and statism, instead supporting laissez-faire capitalism."

"All my staff will need to read her book," Rep. Paul Ryan.

After getting a letter from the Catholics Bishop, Ryan now denounced his idol, "I reject her thinking. She is an atheist."
'That is presumably an important part of his philosophy."
written by John Q, April 30, 2012 11:30
I think we can be safe in saying, "That is certainly an important part of his philosophy."
written by Pat From Massachusetts, May 01, 2012 5:01
As always, thanks for reminding us how pathetic the New York Times really, really is. I hope I'm still alive on the day the New York Times publishes it's last newspaper. I went over my ten article limit for April, so I missed Krugman today :( so this post was more than welcome. However, my partner pointed out that with TWO computers in the house, and her not much of a New York Times reader (bless her), my FREE allotment of articles just doubled to 20.

What are you going to do about that New York Times? Huh? Tell me, Huh?

LOL. And the beat goes on.....
written by liberal, May 01, 2012 8:25
Robert Salzberg wrote,
As Dr. Dean Baker has previously pointed out, reducing the tax brackets from 6 to 2 looks like simplification but has no functional effect on making tax preparation easier for anyone.

Yeah, I can't stand that one. We could have 1,000 tax brackets, and it would still require only one table lookup.
written by liberal, May 01, 2012 8:30
ed ericson wrote,
...pseudointellectual BS...

Right. What bona fides does Ryan have? I don't see any evidence that he's particularly bright at all.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.