While doing my taxes I came to a realization. How would the IRS react if I did my returns the same way Paul Ryan did his “budget,” allowing me to be completely vague and lacking in almost any actual numbers or details where it mattered? So I quickly mocked up what my 1040 would look like if I could get away with not providing any real details or numbers either.
This greatly simplified my taxes. Unfortunately, the IRS would not take too kindly to my total lack of details or my assurance that they simply need to trust me that it all adds up and I qualify for a $10,000 refund.
Similarly nobody should take seriously a “budget” that claims to have only two tax brackets but doesn’t even say which incomes the brackets cover. Nobody should trust someone who promises to eliminate billions in deductions and loopholes for the rich but can’t name a single deduction that will be eliminated, and excludes the ones we know matter the most. Nobody should respect a “plan” to cut billions in discretionary spending that doesn’t even indicate which programs will and won’t see their funding reduced and what the consequences would be.
There is no point in even pretending a budget is serious if it merely promises to raise a set amount of revenue but provides basically no indication on how or from where.
The “Path to Prosperity” put forward by Paul Ryan isn’t even a budget, a plan or a blueprint. A budget has numbers. A plan has details. A blueprint provides almost every possible specification needed to build something. All Ryan provided is a bunch of vague hand waving. Yet instead of rightly mocking Ryan for providing a phony budget without numbers, Serious people like David Brooks defend this proposal, siting its lack of meaningful details as a virtue. The logic of this defense is that since Ryan’s budget has so little relevant information, you can’t even reasonably infer what it would do.
If you look past the pages of rhetorical flourish, Ryan’s Path provides about as much relevant detail as my mock 1040. Judging it is basically impossible; it’s so purposely vague, many can be fooled, but no truly sentient person can take it seriously.