Ryan bill is not enough

It is a cliché that the devil is in the details. So, after seeing and hearing all the breathless talk and anticipation of the House Republican budget, I couldn’t wait to see the real numbers.

What a disappointment.

While significantly better than a continuation of the Obama budget projections, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget still leaves the United States with a national debt of more than $22 trillion in 2021 and a $344 billion annual deficit in that same year — hardly numbers that will excite fiscal hawks.

Of course, the left is howling already, as they prefer the Obama model, which projects a 2021 deficit of $774 billion with a total federal debt at $26 trillion.

To put this into perspective, our current national debt is $14.2 trillion. Our national gross domestic product is approximately $14.9 trillion (GDP is the size of the entire U.S. economy). Even with Ryan’s proposal, the national debt will grow larger than the entire U.S. economy before the end of the calendar year.

Right now, the federal government is burning through $130 billion a month more than it brings in, and the Ryan proposal would slow this rate of cash-burn down, but it merely slows the fiscal death spiral with no pathway to balancing the budget and beginning the process of paying off the federal indebtedness.

So what should be done? The first step of any new legitimate budget is to roll back all federal discretionary spending to 2007 levels.

The next step is to identify programs like the Community Reinvestment Act that are on spending autopilot due to being designated “mandatory spending” and rip them out by the roots .

Simply limiting unemployment insurance eligibility to the original 27 weeks (that’s more than six months) would save close to $100 billion a year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

While some cuts will be deemed cruel, they will not be as cruel as when our nation is no longer allowed to borrow money at extremely low rates and a majority of our tax dollars goes to pay interest on the debt.

Most households know this problem. You get a little credit card debt, and delay paying it off. That debt creeps up over time, a hundred dollars here, a hundred dollars there, and suddenly you are staring at multiple credit card bills that dwarf your monthly income. You still have to pay the rent or mortgage, the kids need braces, gas prices are going up, the car needs to go into the shop and you still need food.

At some point, you cannot avoid the problem anymore, but tackling it takes a disciplined plan to cut spending.

Ryan should be commended for starting a conversation that the president and the Democrats in Congress seem content to ignore. Now it is up to the rest of the Republicans in the House to take the scissors to his proposal and put together a plan that brings our nation’s budget to balance within the next five years. Failure to even present a plan that balances the budget is an abdication of responsibility, and it will be Republicans who pay the political price for this failure.

More importantly, failure to even present, let alone pass, a pathway to balancing the budget almost certainly guarantees that our nation will lose our status as the pre-eminent economic power in the world in the next decade.  Hopefully our elected officials who send our men and women in uniform around the world to fight for our nation will be willing to fight for it just as hard here at home.


Rick Manning is the communications director of Americans for Limited Government.