No One's Being Honest About the Budget

Both parties' fixes amount to 'wishful thinking': Robert Samuelson
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2011 1:43 PM CDT
No One's Being Honest About Fixing Budget Deficit: Robert Samuelson
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, April 13, 2011.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Republicans and Democrats both claim to have a plan to fix the budget, but neither party is offering a realistic approach. It’s time for Dems to admit that “spending control requires genuine cuts in Social Security and Medicare”—and it’s time for the GOP to recognize that “tax increases will be needed to balance the budget,” writes Robert Samuelson in Real Clear Politics. Instead, we’ve got “a public relations war,” with both sides employing “wishful thinking designed to make it seem that they're accomplishing more than they are.”

On the Republican side, Rep. Paul Ryan is proposing to “shrink” the federal government “to almost nothing” outside of “Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.” Forget about “defense, food stamps, highways, federal courts, basic research.” Meanwhile, Democrats are blaming the deficit on the Bush tax cuts and wars—but these account for only a fraction of spending. The facts are straightforward: “Government's spending commitments, driven by more retirees and uncontrolled health costs, vastly exceed the existing tax base.” Maybe these are just "negotiating positions" for Dems and the GOP, and with the debt ceiling hike looming, "both sides will recognize their shortcomings. It's a hope." (More Paul Ryan stories.)

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