Bob Barr

Yesterday, Paul Ryan, Republican Chairman of the House Budget Committee, unveiled his plan that would balance the federal budget within one decade. Considering that the nation’s debt (not including the huge future cost of major entitlement programs) is now approaching $17 trillion, one might think political leaders in Washington, D.C. would consider such a proposal. On the Democratic side of the aisle, however, there is no interest whatsoever in taking such a constructive approach.

Democrats in both houses of the Congress and the Obama Administration, along with many media-based pundits, began to loudly criticize the Ryan proposal even before it was presented. They whine that it is soft on some details and that it -- Heaven forbid -- focuses on spending cuts as the preferred way tobalance the budget rather than revenue enhancements (also known as “tax increases”).

Instead of wailing and gnashing of fiscal teeth, Congress and the President ought to be heaving a sigh of relief and heaping kudos on the former vice-presidential nominee, for doing what they collectively and separately have failed to accomplish. The young Congressman from Wisconsin actually put together a thoughtful, substantive and comprehensive budget. But, of course, Washington does not operate with the same logical, problem-solving approach as a business; according to which a proposal would be viewed as a starting point from which to construct a final solution.

In the deeply partisan environment prevailing today in our nation’s capital, a real plan such as Ryan’s is savaged by the other party for every manner of reason; with no effort to, or interest in, working toward an ultimate solution.

Opponents howl that Ryan’s plan slashes government spending so deeply it would -- if enacted -- essentially doom America to a lengthy and massive depression. Yet, if viewed for what it actually is -- a budget providing for a rate of increase in federal spending at a historically healthy 3.4 percent -- the plan envisions robust federal outlays more than sufficient to avoid economic calamity. Indeed, rather than a miserly budget plan causing America’s children to languish in bread lines, Ryan’s budget proposes federal spending of $41 trillion over the next decade -- hardly a draconian approach to budgeting.

Bob Barr

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s 7th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 -2003 and as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986-1990.