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Reason Alert: Rep. Paul Ryan's Budget Plan

The good, the bad and the ugly of the Republican budget outline

April 6, 2011

- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Rep. Ryan's Budget Plan
- Rep. Ryan's Budget Deserves a Serious Response from Democrats
- The Middle East's Breathtaking Liberalization Isn't About Us
- Cities and States Debate Privatization
- California High-Speed Rail: Next Stop, Bankruptcy
- John Stossel: From Liberal to Libertarian
- New at Reason
 
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Rep. Ryan's Budget Plan
Reason.com's Nick Gillespie and Veronique de Rugy break down the best and worst  of Rep. Paul Ryan's new budget plan: "[President] Obama's plan for 2012 is so awful that it should make us feel lucky that he and the Democrats failed to pass a budget for the current fiscal year (the only time such a thing has happened since 1974). Obama's dream budget would mean a 2021 budget that spends $2 trillion more than we do today, increase debt held by the public from 62 percent to 77 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and maintain massive annual deficits. And that's if things go according to his plan, which they won't (built into his budget are unrealistic assumptions about the rate of economic growth, revenue collection, health care savings, and more). So compared to such an exercise in recklessness, Ryan's plan is refreshingly engaged with reality. Unfortunately for taxpayers and citizens, Ryan's plan looks better when standing in the shadow of Obama's. Neither budget provides a good way forward for a country still battling the effects of recession and the non-stop, self-inflicted spending binge that began with George W. Bush and has proceeded unabated since then. Ryan's budget is indeed a positive break from past efforts by Republicans and Democrats alike, but it doesn't provide the solutions the American people deserve."
Full Analysis
 
Rep. Ryan's Budget Deserves a Serious Response from Democrats
Reason magazine's Jacob Sullum writes: "At a time when Democrats and Republicans are squabbling over whether to cut $33 billion or $61 billion in spending this year—neither of which would make much of a dent in a deficit that is expected to hit $1.6 trillion—Ryan's plan may seem breathtakingly bold. But while it is admirably forthright in some respects, it dodges several important questions. It's too bad there is no opposing party to keep the Republicans fiscally honest...Democrats who do not like Ryan's mix of cuts should be attacking the 'non-security' part of that formulation, since his plan takes only $78 billion, spread over five years, out of a massively bloated Pentagon budget that far exceeds the resources necessary to defend the country. But this laughably inadequate gesture of restraint tracks what Obama already has proposed. 'Ending corporate welfare,' which the Republican plan claims to do, is another potentially fertile area for Democratic counterproposals. Why 'reform' agricultural subsidies, for instance, when they should be eliminated entirely? And do Democrats think the Republicans have identified every objectionable business subsidy in the $3.8 trillion budget? Ryan has taken a serious stab at fiscal restraint. It deserves a serious response."
Rep. Ryan's Overly Rosy Scenarios
Democrats Warn That Paul Ryan’s Medicare Plan Would Reduce Federal Health Care Spending
 
The Middle East's Breathtaking Liberalization Isn't About Us
"An America that is already broke, with unfunded liabilities in the trillions and entitlement trajectories that the president himself has described as 'unsustainable' (without doing a damned bit about it), is an America that will no longer be the protagonist in all the world's dramas. This, I believe, is a welcome and long-overdue development. But it won't be easy, or clean. Freedom is messy. Attempted revolutions in regions that haven't experienced liberalism are guaranteed to have terrifying moments, even decades. The analogical revolutionary year might be less 1989, more 1848. And 1848 didn't end up well for most revolutionaries. Although it is horrible on a basic human level to watch impotently from afar as a delusional thug mows down his own people, that does not mean the U.S. or the international community can produce the best long- or even short-term outcome for the country. Intervention into a country's internal affairs, as last decade taught us the hard way, can have grave unintended consequences.  With America as a bystander, on the other hand, protesters and rebels are seizing the means of democratic production. They are taking ownership of their own future. It's time that we let them." - Reason magazine Editor in Chief Matt Welch in the May Issue
Matt Welch Discusses Freedom of Speech During Wartime
Sen. Lindsey Graham on Limiting Free Speech
The President's War of Choice
For a Neocon, Fiscal Restraint Stops at the Water's Edge
 
Cities and States Debate Privatization
At the NYTimes.com's Room for Debate experts are discussing the pros and cons or privatization. Reason Foundation's Director of Government Reform Leonard Gilroy writes: "Contracting usually generates cost savings for taxpayers between 5 and 20 percent on average, though the benefits of competition extend far beyond cost control. For example, service quality improvements, improved risk management, innovation, and access to outside expertise are other benefits often cited by satisfied government customers. Contracting out is simply a policy tool, and like any tool, it can be used well or poorly. There are two critical ingredients to successful government contracting. First, public managers should think carefully about the service quality standards they want to achieve, and then develop strong, performance-based contracts that hold contractors accountable for meeting them. Measurable performance standards should be built into contracts, along with incentives for exceeding standards and penalties for underperformance. Second, once a performance-based contract is in place, government managers must monitor and enforce the terms of the contract to ensure that contractors perform. Government contracting needs to be seen as part of a larger fiscal management toolkit that includes performance assessment, priority-based budgeting, sunset reviews, and many other approaches to reform."
 
California High-Speed Rail: Next Stop, Bankruptcy
In 2008, Reason's analysis of the California high-speed rail proposal found construction costs were underestimated, ticket price estimates were very low and ridership estimates were wildly optimistic. In the San Diego Union-Tribune, Reason Foundation's Adam Summers writes: "Like most large public infrastructure projects, the California high-speed rail project was sold to the public based on false promises, exaggerated benefits and lowball cost estimates. Before the election, the cost of the project was estimated at $33 billion for the Los Angeles/Anaheim to San Francisco portion, and an additional $7 billion for the spurs to San Diego and Sacramento. Voters narrowly passed a $9.95 billion bond in 2008, and the federal government and private investors were supposed to cover the remaining $30 billion. We were promised that a one-way fare between Los Angeles and San Francisco would cost about $55, making it cheaper than flying. After the election, costs rose to $43 billion for just the Los Angeles-San Francisco phase (chances are the San Diego and Sacramento lines will never be built) and ticket price estimates nearly doubled to $105. Yet none of this seems to bother the California High-Speed Rail Authority or cause it to re-evaluate the feasibility of the project."
Reason's 2008 Study on the Real Costs of the CA Rail Plan
 
John Stossel: From Liberal to Libertarian
On his Fox Business Network show last week, John Stossel discussed how he went from liberal to libertarian: "The free market works...So then I started trying to read about it. I don't know how you learned about liberty. I looked in The New York Times and the lefty press that we were reading and it was all about got to have much more government doing everything. And I turned to the conservative press and the conservative press was all upset about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. And upset about homosexuality, and it just didn't make sense to me. I finally discovered Reason magazine. And that was an epiphany for me. It was like, wow, these people get it. Wow, they really get it, much better than I do. And suddenly, I saw I wasn't alone, there were other people who get this."
 
New at Reason
 
Higher Costs and Worse Service for DC Taxi Customers
 
Was John Steinbeck’s Travels With CharleyFraud?
 
Reason.tv: What We Saw At The "Our Communities, Our Jobs" Labor Rally
 
Justice Scalia and the Innocent
 
It's Hard to Make Predictions, Especially About the Future
 
Full April 2011 Issue of Reason Magazine
 
Special Offer: A Year of Reason Magazine for $14.97
 
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