Paul Ryan’s Phony Budget – Taxes Today for Promises Tomorrow

We now know that despite all the smoke and mirrors Paul Ryan’s budget was primarily a way to reinstate defense sequester cuts. For all its posturing about what future congresses should do, e.g. reforming Medicare and social security, his real budget proposes to take away tax deductions and preferences so as to spend more on the Pentagon.

Ryan was always a big Iraq war fan. An excellent analysis by Jonathan Bydlak at the Coalition to Reduce Spending, Ryan Budget shows how little difference there is between the Parties, states that he "ignores the vast and wide-ranging examples of waste and duplication. To neglect even obvious examples of waste in favor of defending more Pentagon spending at all costs – while proclaiming one’s fiscal conservatism – is the height of hypocrisy." Ryan’s net effect is to take away mortgage interest and other tax deductions to pay for eliminating the defense sequester.

Because of his inordinate influence in Washington, Ryan’s own words deserve scrutiny. Writing "A Clear Choice on Defense, he argues that defense spending is "just 18% of the federal budget" without explaining that it is 55% of spending excluding social security and Medicare. He, like many others in Washington, obfuscates real cuts by mixing up yearly spending with 10 year fantasies. Then he repeats the threat that, with cutbacks, America would have the fewer warships since World War I and fewer Air Force planes. Well, in the old days a ship might fire a hundred or even a thousand shells to hit a target. Today it can be hit with one missile or guided bomb. I remember during the Korean War it took the Air Force 6 months to destroy the bridges on the Yalu River bringing in supplies from China. Today it could be done safely from far away, not risking air crews, with one missile. It’s the Pentagon and Congress that cause fewer ships and planes being built because they’ve been so awash in money since 9/11. Congress should focus on reforming their waste, not just spending more. Beyond that America needs weaponry for the 21st century, not more old stuff much of which is designed to re-fight World War II battles.

For Ryan there is no waste in military spending. Nowhere does he propose any sort of reforms or cutbacks, even as we end two wars which each cost some $10 billion per month. Ryan blames the proposed decommissioning of the A-10 ground support plane on Obama. But it is the Air Force which wants rather to spend its money on the gold plated F-35 fighter plans, at over 300 million dollars apiece, depending upon how one calculates the numbers. Earlier we published 16 Ways to Cut Defense Spending, which details some of the waste and potential savings available. Readers can compare its proposals against Ryan’s spending.

Ron Paul deciphered Ryan’s "budget" in Another Phony Budget Debate, "The Republicans are using the old DC trick of spending less than originally planned and calling that reduced spending increase a $5.1 trillion cut in spending. Only in DC could a budget that increases spending by 3.5 percent per year instead of by 5.2 percent per year be attacked as a "slash-and-burn" plan. Last week’s budget debate showed how little difference there lies between the parties when it comes to preserving the warfare-welfare state. One side may prefer more warfare while the other prefers more welfare, but neither side actually wants to significantly reduce the size and scope of government."

The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said "the greatest threat to our national security is our debt."  In the final analysis Ryan is not a leader, he’s just another puppet of the military industrial complex. If he really cared about American defense he would take up some of the many ways to stop wasting money and make America truly stronger and more competent.

Author: Jon Basil Utley

Jon Basil Utley is associate publisher of The American Conservative. He was a foreign correspondent in South America for the Journal of Commerce and Knight Ridder newspapers and former associate editor of The Times of the Americas. He is a writer and adviser for and edits a blog, The Military Industrial Congressional Complex.