Ryan's Budget Spin
The GOP budget chairman throws some curves while supposedly 'setting the record straight.'
May 6, 2011
SummaryRep. Paul Ryan spreads some false and misleading information in a series of "Setting The Record Straight" web posts, in which he criticizes the president's proposed budget and promotes his own. Among the claims:
* Ryan says his plan would not increase the debt. In fact, under his plan the public debt would increase from $10 trillion in 2011 to $16 trillion in 2021, by his own figures. That's a slower increase than under President Barack Obama's budget, but the debt would still rise substantially.
* He says his plan would "bring deficits below $1 trillion immediately, ending the era of trillion-dollar deficits." True -- but just barely. The 2012 deficit in his plan would be $995 billion, just shy of $1 trillion. It would drop to about $700 billion by 2013 -- but that's what the president's budget projects, too.
* A GOP document defending Ryan's plan wrongly claims that the budget "does not cut Medicaid" and that it "spends more on Medicaid each year than it does the previous year." That's false. Ryan's own projections call for slashing Medicaid below this year's spending level for years to come.
* That GOP document says Democrats in Congress and Obama increased the deficit 259 percent since 2008, when it was $458 billion. That ignores the fact that President George Bush was in office in 2008. Obama inherited a $1.2 trillion deficit largely caused by declining revenues and Bush's response to the economic crisis.
* Ryan says Obama's proposed budget "commits seniors to bureaucratically rationed health care." In fact, the new health care law states that the advisory board to which Ryan refers "shall not include any recommendation to ration health care." Furthermore, the board members are to be primarily doctors, economists and other outside experts, not Washington bureaucrats.
* He says the "principles of tax reform" in his plan are "identical" to those in the bipartisan fiscal commission. That's misleading. Both would close loopholes and reduce tax rates, but the commission would raise $785 billion in new tax revenue from 2012 to 2020 for debt reduction. Ryan's plan is revenue neutral.
* He says Obama's budget "imposes $1.5 trillion in tax increases on job creators and American families." But, as we written before, about half of that total would come from increases scheduled under current law.
* He says that closing the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap would "increase prescription-drug prices for everyone." But the Congressional Budget Office says out-of-pocket costs would be unaffected or lower for many.
* He claims the health care law doesn't improve Medicare's finances. Not true. It does, but experts worry some cost controls won't be fully implemented. Furthermore, Ryan's budget keeps in place some of those same cost controls.
This is not to say that everything Ryan claims on his website is inaccurate. But it's our job to "set the record straight" when he doesn't. Read our Analysis section for more.
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