Erskine Bowles praises Ryan budget

Geoffrey Lawrence

I’ve personally found the hard Left’s attacks on the Ryan budget plan baseless and laughable.

Ryan’s proposed FY13 budget, for instance, would reduce federal expenditures from $3,624 billion to $3,530 billion-a whopping 2.5 percent reduction! Yeah…this guy’s truly some type of radical…sure.

From there, Ryan’s plan would allow for a three percent average annual growth in federal outlays through 2022, when spending will total to $4,888 billion. You read that right. Ryan’s plan will result in a growth of the federal government each year. As a percentage of GDP, Ryan still plans to spend more than was spent during the final years of anarcho-extremist Bill Clinton’s administration.

So, the big deal is that Ryan would allow Medicare beneficiaries to choose their own plan instead of just being herded like cattle into a one-size-fits-all plan administered by Team Bureaucrat? Oh, the horror.

Ryan also wants to change the way Medicaid is funded so that states can tailor their programs more specifically to their unique circumstances. Does anyone really think the current Medicaid financing structure is cost-effective? If so, read this, then come back. If American taxpayers are going to spend $460 billion per year on a public health insurance program, then that program should produce a sizable improvement in health outcomes for the poor. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Ryan’s plan, though, offers some hope that states might be able to improve Medicaid performance. Why would the Left have a problem with that? Do they hate poor people?

The wailing of the Left over Ryan’s budget is particularly curious because his budget, ultimately, is about saving many programs cherished by the Left, but which are teetering on the brink of insolvency. Indeed, as Cato’s Chris Edwards argues, “Too often the Ryan budget proposes to fix broken programs when the proper reform would be elimination.” Cato scholar Tad DeHaven says, “It’s still big government.”

Rothbard often highlighted the lunacy of suggesting methods for improving the efficiency of government programs with which one fundamentally disagrees, thereby prolonging their existence. I’m sure he would have picked apart various elements of Ryan’s plan for that reason.

So, given how generous the Ryan budget actually is to those on the Left, I was delighted to come across this video of Erskine Bowles of the Bowles-Simpson Commission. It’s not that I agree with everything Bowles says or everything contained within the Ryan budget; it’s just refreshing to discover some intellectual honesty in the policymaking arena on occasion.

Bowles-who served as Chief of Staff for the Clinton Administration-calls the Ryan plan “a sensible, straight-forward, honest, serious budget” and offers additional praise for the man who oversaw its creation.

It’s a short video, but it’s worth a watch.

Geoffrey Lawrence

Geoffrey Lawrence

Director of Research

Geoffrey Lawrence is director of research at Nevada Policy.

Lawrence has broad experience as a financial executive in the public and private sectors and as a think tank analyst. Lawrence has been Chief Financial Officer of several growth-stage and publicly traded manufacturing companies and managed all financial reporting, internal control, and external compliance efforts with regulatory agencies including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Lawrence has also served as the senior appointee to the Nevada State Controller’s Office, where he oversaw the state’s external financial reporting, covering nearly $10 billion in annual transactions. During each year of Lawrence’s tenure, the state received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finance Officers’ Association.

From 2008 to 2014, Lawrence was director of research and legislative affairs at Nevada Policy and helped the institute develop its platform of ideas to advance and defend a free society.  Lawrence has also written for the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, with particular expertise in state budgets and labor economics.  He was delighted at the opportunity to return to Nevada Policy in 2022 while concurrently serving as research director at the Reason Foundation.

Lawrence holds an M.A. in international economics from American University in Washington, D.C., an M.S. and a B.S. in accounting from Western Governors University, and a B.A. in international relations from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  He lives in Las Vegas with his beautiful wife, Jenna, and their two kids, Carson Hayek and Sage Aynne.