The folks over at Reason.Com have weighed in on Representative Paul Ryan's budget proposal; they've found stuff they like, they dislike, and they hate. Mostly though, it is a pretty fair assessment of the merits of Ryan's plan and a superb exposition on why libertarianism makes for great late-night dorm conversation among wonks, but it ultimately an ideology bereft of political savvy and attraction for a wide swath of voters.
Gillespie and de Rugy do a great job setting up their piece by savaging President Obama's unserious 2012 budget proposal, a proposal made with the understanding that it is based upon a 2011 budget baseline that the Democrat-controlled Congress did not pass. Not only does it raise spending and increase debt and deficits, but it does so at a shocking rate.
Into the mix steps Wisconsin Wunderkind Paul Ryan and his budget plan--a plan that dramatically decreases the debt, slows spending to sustainable levels and substantially decreases government spending as a proportion of GDP.
Reason's objections? It doesn't go far enough. It doesn't means test all government benefits. It doesn't touch Social Security. It doesn't cut the defense budget (I agree with this criticism--we can cut the defense budget, if we decide to spend the money on capabilities that make sense for us, rather than rebuilding a colossal Army to fight ever-war wherever we want). It doesn't eliminate wholesale, entire departments of government.
So while I agree with Reason on Ryan's punting on defense cuts, what I see from them are the criticisms of those who rarely govern, who take great pride in not being Republicans or Democrats, and who cleave to ideological stakes irrespective of the obvious political costs of doing so. Reform Social Security? Great idea. Except the political costs of doing so are IMMENSE. Tactically, leaving Social Security along creates room to run, as virtually everything else is then placed on the table.
So, two cheers for Reason. They've done a fair job analyzing the plan, but then they go too far in their criticisms--as they come from a place of pride in being ever on the outside looking in.