One crank Republican Senator recently decided that the way to solve our budget challenges was to sponsor a Constitutional Amendment that would bar Congress from spending more than 18% of the previous year’s GDP, erect barriers to raising revenue (thus making it harder to balance the budget), and require short-term cuts that look like this:
By 2017, the requisite cut to noninterest spending would exceed the entire discretionary budget (including emergency supplemental appropriations for overseas contingency operations). Entire cabinet agencies, such as the departments of Education and Energy, and all of their programs, would have to be abolished.
Bruce Bartlett does a pretty decent job summing up the whole project. “In short, this is quite possibly the stupidest constitutional amendment I think I have ever seen. It looks like it was drafted by a couple of interns on the back of a napkin. Every senator cosponsoring this POS should be ashamed of themselves.”
Oh, I’m sorry. Did I say one crank Republican? My mistake. It was actually co-sponsored by EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN SENATOR. Every last one. So you may be thinking, gee, 18% of GDP…sounds reasonable enough. I’m sure they have a budget proposal that spends less than 18% of GDP. Well no. Of course they don’t. The only budget proposal any Republican has put forward is Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap” and while the Ryan plan does, in fact, make a number of ill-advised and regressive cuts, it still wouldn’t pass muster. EPI explains:
According to CBO, primary spending under the Ryan Roadmap would total 19.3% in 2040, with total spending at 23.5%…Again ignoring the regressive, budget-breaking tax policies in the Ryan Roadmap, total spending would equal 19.5% of GDP by 2060—a full 1.5 percentage points above an 18% global spending cap and roughly three percentage points above the effective cap, assuming similar rates of trend GDP growth.
Well if all the Republican Senators want to make it unconstitutional to enact the only GOP budget plan with actual numbers, they must have an ace up their sleeves. Their eye on the long view of history. Back to the good ol’ fiscally responsible days of Reagan.
I’ve gone ahead and highlighted spending as a percentage of GDP during Reagan’s time in office. Oh wait! The GOP’s brilliant plan would make every single year of Reagan’s presidency unconstitutional? That socialist dystopia of the 1980s?
There are lots and lots of ways to tackle the medium and long-term deficit issues facing this country, but the Republican party has simply left the field. Saying that they don’t have a real budget plan is far too generous. They have gone so far outside the realm of economic sanity that they literally want to enshrine in the Constitution that Reagan’s economic agenda was too disastrously liberal. The only conclusion is that anyone defending current GOP fiscal policy is either ignorant, insane, or a complete shill.