The federal budget plan of Rep. Paul Ryan has been repeatedly characterized as “extreme.” (I Googled, “Ryan plan extreme” and got over 43,100,000 hits.) Among those making the charge have been the editorial writers over at the Denver Post.
In reality, several Western democracies have enacted far more “extreme” deficit elimination plans in recent years—and with great success. In the early 1990s, Canada was laboring under about as much debt as the U.S. now is, measured as a share of the economy. In a new article, former Canadian prime minister Paul Martin (a Liberal Party prime minister, no less) tells us how his government cut federal spending in absolute terms, balanced the budget in about five years, and lowered taxes.
The Canadian reforms were preceded by similar successes in places like Alberta, New Zealand, and Great Britain. All required absolute drops in spending, with no sacred cows. Everyone has to feel that he or she is making a sacrifice for all.
Ryan’s plan would only slow the increase in spending, not cut it. It would exempt people over 55 from Medicare changes, a political as well as a budgetary mistake. And it would not balance the budget until at least 2040—if at all.
In other words, a fundamental flaw of the Ryan plan is that it is not sweeping enough.
You can expect Lefty activities to throw dirt on any plan that would curb even minimally the out-of-control welfare state. But the Post editors—who write for Colorado’s newspaper of record—need to exercise more discretion.