OK

Paul Ryan, the ranking member on the House Budget Comittee, introduced a budget bill yesterday that has conservative circles acting like he's the cat with the catnip.  Given the beating Republicans have taken in various elections lately (covered in dkos diaries like this from sanford), it's no wonder he's the new rock star. They are desperate for ideas, but this guy is dangerous.

Ryan specifically would like to let us know (via the Wall Street Journal) that

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other government spending will consume 40% of the economy by the time his three children .... reach his age. Federal spending is now about 20% of the economy.

I have three observations.

First, the myth that "government spending" is defacto a drag on the economy needs to continually be de-bunked.  Again, anyone who has taken Macroeconomics 101 (which as far as I know is not required in order to sit on any Senate or House Budget Committee) would know, government spending for pass-through programs stimulates the economy. Income to individuals from entitlement life-supporting programs stimulates the economy by adding to consumer spending on necessities and other items that are bought locally (nationally).

It's spending on luxury items or on national debt caused by underfunding a war that's a economic drag. Heck, I wouldn't care if all US government spending went to public investment, like free education, health care, support for the elderly, mass transit and investment in innovation and technology.  Let's build!

It's an economic fact, not a partisan polemic, that certain kinds of government spending stimulate the economy and ultimately can alleviate poverty (and raise tax revenues), and other kinds don't.  

Second, a quick look at his voting record reveals that 1) he doesn't like to give health care to needy children, 2) he's also against giving disaster relief to hurricane victims and those needing low-income energy assistance and, 3) thinks FISA is a good idea.

Finally, as I turned to the "Ryan continued" page in our local Journal Sentinel, I couldn't help but be struck by the juxtaposition of his story against an obit on the same page.  An obit for Helen Alexander, the first black person to graduate from her all-Catholic University (Cardinal Stritch). She's credited with getting Head Start, one of the most successful government education initiatives, up and running in Milwaukee. Who's done more for America?

Originally posted to cityvitalsigns on Thu May 22, 2008 at 07:58 AM PDT.

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