The budget blueprint that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) released on Tuesday rehashes several of the same economic policy ideas from his past two “Path to Prosperity” budgets, despite drastic improvement in the nation’s fiscal outlook in the intervening years.
The format, structure, and style of the budget documents have changed slightly each year, and the Fiscal Year 2015 version includes specific numbers more often than the FY2013 and FY2014 editions. But a review of the past three editions of Ryan’s Path to Prosperity shows 11 separate instances of repetition in the newly released budget document, including more than half a dozen taken straight from the version voters rejected in 2012:
They also fail to account for big improvements in the country’s budget outlook over the years since Ryan first began releasing the documents. Deficits have collapsed in recent years thanks in part to the $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction Congress and the White House have enacted over the years since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives. The deficit fell faster last year than at any time since the end of World War II. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is much more optimistic about the country’s long-term deficit and debt projections than when Ryan first debuted his budget.
Projected spending on health care is way down from the expectations on which Ryan based his original budgets, yet the same health care cuts show up again in this year’s budget resolution. Ryan continues to call for food stamp cuts even though enrollment and spending are already starting to fall as the economy improves and the cost of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will drop by half in the coming years automatically.
If these new facts did not push Ryan to offer new policies, perhaps the rebellion of his own fellow House conservatives last summer should have done so. The last Ryan budget collapsed when Republican-controlled committees proved unable to write actual spending legislation that matched his budget.
This year, Ryan is pushing the same ideas up an even steeper hill. Rep. Dave Camp’s (R-CA) recent comprehensive tax reform proposal illustrated that the kinds of tax cuts Ryan wants for the wealthy are impossible without a gigantic tax hike on the middle class.