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Monday, October 17, 2011

Now that Ron Paul has his budget, progressives can respond constructively if they wish...

Now that Ron Paul has put out a budget plan, progressives need to categorize it in 3 groups: 1.) cuts we agree with, 2.) cuts we would allow at least temporarily in exchange for equal cuts or revenue increases we prefer, and 3.) cuts we simply cannot support. We ought to be willing to try to find a way to a way to match the bottom line in terms of debt reduction and maybe even reduction in total expenditures. I would suggest that progressives construct a combination of spending reductions and tax reforms which moves 1 trillion dollars annually, half toward debt reduction and half toward domestic spending through funding the states.

Ron Paul's reduces debt by 3 trillion over 4 years. His budget plan also produces $2.6 trillion less revenue than President's. A coalition of Libertarians and Republicans ought to be able to get 1.6 trillion more in revenues but for the sake of  argument, let's say we can agree to 1 trillion in cuts and 1 trillion in revenue increases through tax reform which reduces the vast majority's tax burden while increasing the tax burden on the super wealthy. That would mean we have moved 2 trillion dollars away from militarism and corporatism. If Paul can agree to allow half of this to go to the states according to population, he can have a winning coalition.

It is encouraging that Paul has mentioned block grants. Such grants would put general limitations on how funds may be spent, which would be better than allowing Texas to use all of the funds to subsidize petro slurping. We might propose this one: funding of tax breaks must account for not more than half of the funds a state receives in a federal block grant. That would be great but Paul probably would not agree to it.

Paul wants an opt out for citizens age 25 or less. How much this would cost is unknown but it can safely be assumed that Paul wants all funds from reductions to go to funding only debt reduction, tax reduction and entitlements depleted by the opt out. I say give him a vote on  this proposal. We might be able to make a deal of a public option in exchange for an opt out. That would be a long shot deal. Most likely progressives would have to live without a public option under a Paul administration and Paul would have to live without his opt out dream under the coalition that elects him. Unfortunately things would not be any different under Obama 2.

I fear that neither side is willing to work this deal out, preferring instead dueling street theater. Paul has shared his budgetary priorities. Skepticism is much called for. However, let's not pretend that we are going to get a better deal under Obama. His budget will spend at least 600 billion more on militarism. If he would adjust his budget and match Paul's cuts in fake defense and false security, he would get my vote. I am still voting for Paul in the primary but I want to see who gives the American people the best deal in the general election. I would like to have that choice rather than doing the no-brainer to block a Romney clone.

1 comment:

  1. Reactions should depend not just on the desire to end the wars but on what prospects we consider likely for the world and national economy. Do we think things will just hum along about like now, rejecting the doomsayers because they are almost always wrong, or do we contemplate the stresses and civil unrest in the Eurozone, see how dramatically the US debt has grown, and conclude that we are headed for very tough times in the next few years?

    Note that Ron Paul predicts the latter and was correct when he called out the collapse of the housing market several years before it happened.