File, AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
In this April 5, 2011 file photo, House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. speaks at a news conference at the Capitol in Washington. Ryan's budget proposals are controversial.
Mitt Romney's decision to choose Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate has been applauded as a move toward a more substantive, issue-oriented national political conversation. And the Deseret News has suggested Ryan's budget plan as the starting point for an eventual budget compromise ("Ryan changes focus, Aug. 13). The problem is, Ryan's plan is neither thoughtful nor substantive.
Set aside his proposed transformation of Medicare as we know it to a poorly conceived voucher system. Set aside the way his proposed budget cuts shred the social safety net so many less fortunate Americans rely on. Ryan's plan won't even help solve the one thing it's meant to solve: the budget deficit.
Ryan's plan involves a massive tax cut for wealthy Americans, cutting marginal tax rates to 20 percent. He suggests that would be budget-neutral because he would also eliminate tax loopholes. But he hasn't specified which loopholes he'd close, and when you crunch the numbers, the only 'loopholes' he might cut are things like the home mortgage interest tax deduction. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, using the most optimistic possible assumptions, suggests the Ryan budget would increase the deficit to the tune of at least a half trillion dollars a year.
As for the laughable suggestion that tax cuts for millionaires will stimulate the economy, we've already seen the complete failure of that fantasy. Reading his plan, I can only conclude that Ryan is not a serious economic thinker and that his plans belong in the dustbin of history, not in any serious conversation about the economy.