Dana Milbank doesn’t like Paul Ryan’s budget proposal that was released this week. Why? Well, Ryan cuts spending on the poor in order to pay for tax cuts for the rich. Milbank writes:
Paul Ryan, outlining his latest budget proposal in the House TV studio Tuesday morning, said the policies of the Republican presidential nominees “perfectly jibe” with his plan, which slashes the safety net to pay for tax cuts mostly for wealthy Americans.
In case we don’t get his point, he later repeats it:
Taken together, Ryan would cut spending on such programs by $5.3 trillion, much of which currently goes to the have-nots. He would then give that money to America’s haves: some $4.3 trillion in tax cuts, compared with current policies.
And later again:
To protect poor Americans from being demeaned, Ryan is cutting their anti-poverty programs and using the proceeds to give the wealthiest Americans a six-figure tax cut.
It would appear that Milbank believes in a sort of fiscal Brezhnev Doctrine, in which whatever claim on the percentage of GDP made by the Feds is considered permanent, while the status of unclaimed GDP is considered up for grabs. In Dana’s world, the current level of redistribution is optimal (until next year, when a greater level of redistribution will assume that status).
Quite aside from whether Ryan proposes actual cuts, as opposed to decreases in an arbitrarily projected rate of increase, notice Milbank’s fallacy regarding reducing real wealth transfers to the “poor” in order to increase them to the “rich”—or of robbing poor Peter to pay rich Paul. Instead, it’s a case of robbing Paul less (by reducing his taxes) while paying Peter less (by reducing his claim to coercive wealth transfers).
Which is not to defend the Ryan budget for reduced taxation and redistribution. He and Milbank are just on opposite sides of a typical D.C. debate among welfare-ists, in which the Republican budget increases the national debt by a $4 trillion over the next ten years and the Democratic one increases it by $3.5 trillion, with both budgets relying on rosy scenarios including the assumption that future Congresses will be constrained by the dictates of the present one.