Thursday, April 11, 2013

The vagueness of leadership: Paul Ryan

"[Paul Ryan] keeps all of the Obamacare taxes and spending cuts that paid for Obamacare, but cuts all of the benefits."
Representative Bobby Scott criticizing the federal budget proposal presented to the House of Representatives and its principle author Paul Ryan.

There's no way this is the truth, right?  Paul Ryan's budget does call for a repeal of Obamacare.  The revenues are based off of numbers provided by the Congressional Budget Office doing a 10 year projection.  They're required to assume that the current tax laws will stay the whole time.  Obamacare has been enacted since 2010.  Obamacare has a number of ways to raise the revenue.  Remember the whole controversy if the penalty was a tax?  The CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation have estimated that if Obamacare is repealed, they would lose $1 trillion in revenues.

So how do we make up that loss in revenue?  Well, Paul Ryan and other Republicans have stated that they want to cut Obamacare taxes and do a revenue-neutral tax code overhaul. They would like to cut top rates (big surprise), reduce the number of individual tax brackets, eliminate the alternative minimum tax, and getting rid of many loopholes and deductions.  But much like during the presidential campaign, the Ryan budget does not name a single loophole or deduction that he would like to eliminate, presumably because he doesn't have the time to go through all of the math with you.  That work of actually naming the loopholes and deductions would be the work of the House Ways and Means Committee. 

So, Paul Ryan leaves the $1 trillion in revenue that Obamacare will bring in but eliminates Obamacare by basically saying we'll find the $1 trillion by cutting loopholes and eliminating deductions.  Ryan has critics on both sides of the political aisle about leaving in the $1 trillion in revenues, including the Heritage Foundation and Republican Congressman Paul Broun. 

How is Paul Ryan so certain he can find the $1 trillion in revenue without naming any loophole or deduction he wants to get rid of?  My guess is that the reason he doesn't want to name them publicly is that they are very popular loopholes/deductions. 

Or maybe he doesn't know any loophole or deduction that he wants to eliminate.  I'm not sure which of those two situations are worse.

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