The now annual release of House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget proposal has replaced the release of the president’s budget proposal as my least favorite policy event of the year. The president promises big government and Ryan promises smaller big government. What makes the Ryan proposal more aggravating is that it’s hardly a vision of limited government, but the left (and many on the right) treats it like it is.
According to his numbers, Ryan’s budget ideas would reduce federal spending as a percentage of GDP from 22.2 percent this year to 19.1 percent in 2023. According to Democrats and liberals, such a savage reduction in the federal footprint would inflict unfathomable pain on various groups of Americans.
Here’s Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) with the standard Democratic scare-mongering that we can expect to hear over and over again in the coming months:
Instead of insisting on a balanced approach to deficit reduction, Ryan’s budget will demand that our middle class, seniors, veterans, women, children, federal employees, low-income families, and those nearing retirement pick up the tab.
Other than perhaps Oompa Loompas, I believe Rep. Hoyer got’em all (rich males aren’t included because they don’t pay their “fair share”).
Instead of delving any further into Ryan’s numbers, I’m just going to get to my point. Proposing that the federal government borrow and spend less than what is currently projected is certainly better than the alternative. But if your goal is limited government then there has to actually be limits on what all the government is involved in.
Tad DeHaven is a budget analyst on federal and state budget issues for the Cato Institute.