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Paul Ryan’s Budget Preview Trailer Has All the Subtlety of Atlas Shrugged 2

Paul Ryan, chair of the House Budget Committee, will release his budget next week. And he’s prepared for it with a “trailer” that amps up the drama of a document describing ten-year outlays of discretionary and mandatory budget programs to preposterous heights.

Bearing a resemblance to the long tracking shots in The Shining (maybe he was that kid yelling “Red rum”), Ryan steadicams his way through a hallway in Congress, and reminisces about the 2008 financial crisis and TARP. He voted for TARP, by the way, but that doesn’t make it into this preview. I guess it was cut for space. He claims that nobody saw the financial crisis coming, which isn’t really true. But then he says:

What if your president, your senator and your congressman knew it was coming? What if they knew when it was going to happen, why it was going to happen, and more importantly, what if they knew what they needed to do to stop it from happening and they had the time to stop it, but they chose to do nothing about it, because it wasn’t good politics? What would you think of that person? It would be immoral. This coming debt crisis is the most predictable crisis we’ve ever had in this country. And look what’s happening. This is why we’re acting. This is why we’re leading. This is why we’re proposing and passing from the House a budget to fix this problem. So we can save this country, for ourselves and for our children’s future.

The “debt crisis,” at least in terms of the primary budget deficit, would come to an end merely by Congress doing nothing, allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire and the various elements of the debt limit deal to be enacted. That would be a negative scenario from the standpoint of the economy, with a negative fiscal drag. But Ryan wants to go further than the debt limit deal on spending, with cuts below the spending targets. He wants to institute a Medicare voucher program that will raise overall health spending and transfer the burden to seniors. And he wants to extend those Bush tax cuts, negating almost all of the deficit benefit to his budget plan. Last year’s version did not balance the budget for decades.

However, Ryan does look very dashing in this preview, and I just can’t wait to see where it goes! Let me guess, he eats a poor person.

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David Dayen

David Dayen