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Paul Ryan Lies About Spending in Obama Budget

Paul Ryan said earlier today on Morning Joe that Madison is like Cairo. He did this in the midst of a defense of Governor Scott Walker, who is the Hosni Mubarak of that scenario. So needless to say, the guy isn’t entirely bright, though he has an undeserved reputation for smarts in Washington.

Here’s another example: Ryan’s extremely dishonest claim about new spending in the Obama 2012 budget.

“What we have is $1.6 trillion in new tax increases, $8.7 trillion in new spending. He’s going to be adding $13 trillion to the debt over the course of his budget.”

The statement above by Rep. Paul Ryan, made on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” was echoed across the media landscape on Monday and Tuesday by other Republicans. The White House claimed that its budget relied on two-thirds spending freezes and cuts and one-third tax increases to achieve $1 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years. But here is the House Budget Committee chairman claiming that the budget has a ratio of spending increases to tax cuts of eight to one […]

Ryan adds together 10 years of budgets to come up with his figures. The House Budget Committee produced its own analysis of the president’s budget Tuesday, which explains how the tax increase figure (see figure 8) and the debt increase number (see table 1) were derived. The tax increases stem mostly from Obama’s well-advertised desire to roll back Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,000. Note that the debt increase is from 2010, which is actually over 12 years, not the 10-year budget submitted by the president, so Ryan overstates that a bit.

The problematic figure in Ryan’s statement is the claim that the president proposed $8.7 trillion in new spending. In response to a question about how this number was obtained, the committee staff provided a chart that showed that outlays would be frozen every year for the next 10 years at the 2012 level of $3.729 trillion.

Thus, while in 2021 Obama proposes to spend $5.697 trillion, the committee would still be spending $3.729 trillion, for a difference of almost $2 trillion. Add up the difference for every year, over 10 years, and it amounts to nearly $8.7 trillion, which the committee calls “new spending.”

In other words, the committee assumed the president needs to freeze all spending, without adjustments for inflation or population growth, for 10 years. Moreover, it makes this assumption for all spending, even mandatory programs such as Social Security and Medicare, which need to be changed by law. Much of the president’s budget dealt with discretionary spending — he pledged to freeze nondefense discretionary spending for five years — but that is only about one-third of the total budget.

Paul Ryan is a bullshit artist who talks very fast and mesmerizes unthinking Washington journalists. I’m glad to say Glenn Kessler isn’t one of them, but instead of the “two Pinocchios” at the end of the story, he could simply call Paul Ryan a liar and leave it at that.

Ryan, of course, is dedicated to using these made-up numbers to destroy Medicare and Medicaid. He’ll throw around figures like “$43 trillion in unfunded liabilities” when he does this, without saying that he’s using an infinite timeline. He’ll sound very serious and forget to mention that he wants to ratchet down, like a one-man death panel, the amount of health care seniors can access over time. He wants seniors to pay more for health care. That’s really the entire plan. And if you can’t afford it, tough.

Worth knowing that the guy who wants to do that happens to be a shameless liar.

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David Dayen

David Dayen