A Mixed Endorsement for Ryan from Bowles and Simpson

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 5 2011 3:48 PM

A Mixed Endorsement for Ryan from Bowles and Simpson

The only really tricky question for Paul Ryan today -- he took lots of them -- was about his refusal to consider tax increases as part of a long-term budget solution. The president's deficit commission, which Ryan served on, recommended a lot of the entitlement reckoning that Ryan included in his resolution. But it also recommended tax increases. Ryan ruled those out: "If you tax something, you get less of it."

That's one of the reasons the Erskine Bowles/Alan Simpson statement on the budget is one of the more milquetoast responses Ryan's got. The happy talk:

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We applaud him for his work in putting forward a proposal which will reduce the country’s deficit by approximately the same amount as the plan of the President's Fiscal Commission. We are particularly encouraged that Chairman Ryan’s budget looks beyond the recent debates about near-term cuts and recognizes the need to address the long-term drivers of the debt. We are also pleased that the Chairman includes a process for Social Security reform in his budget to set the program on sound footing, and looks to do so for the program’s own sake, not for deficit reduction.

The unhappy talk:

While we are encouraged that Chairman Ryan has come forward with a serious plan, we are concerned that it falls short of the balanced, comprehensive approach needed to achieve the broad bipartisan agreement necessary to enact a responsible plan. The plan largely exempts defense spending from reductions and would not apply any of the savings from eliminating or reducing tax expenditures as part of tax reform to deficit reduction. As a result, the Chairman’s plan relies on much larger reductions in domestic discretionary spending than does the Commission proposal, while also calling for savings in some safety net programs – cuts which would place a disproportionately adverse effect on certain disadvantaged populations.

But taxes are basically off the table for the GOP.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.