Sunday, April 08, 2012

having it both ways on budgets

This is the best distillation I've seen of the kind of rhetorical ploy Republicans and their surrogates like David Brooks have been playing with budgets and such the past few years. Ezra is absolutely right about the illustrative capacity of budgets, and the whole point of all of Paul Ryan's various "budget plans" has been to obfuscate, not to explain. A great quote here:
There’s a bottom line here: You can’t cut spending without cutting spending. But Ryan wants to have it both ways: He wants to get the credit for cutting spending, but he doesn’t want to have to propose specific spending cuts. Oh, and he doesn’t want anyone to extrapolate what those cuts would be, either.
You can't, for instance, say you're going to cut X amount from "discretionary programs," give no details as to which get cut more and which less, and then whine when the other guys assume that number is an across the board cut. This kind of slipperiness allows Paul Ryan essentially to say he's going to cut some huge mythical chunk out of the budget, while promising every individual person that their pet issue will be safe. There's no courage here, no productive activity, because until the cuts are specific, they are a mirage.

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