What the Ryan Path to Prosperity Left Out

Posted: Apr 05, 2011 4:08 PM
The Ryan Path to Prosperity has some comprehensive guidelines for how to reform two of our biggest out-of-control entitlements, Medicare and Medicaid. There are also defense cuts and government efficiency standards (I just made up that phrase and I feel pretty good about it).

However, there are two glaring areas that aren't substantially addressed: tax reform and Social Security.

On tax reform, Rep. Ryan makes some similar moves to the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission by eliminating tax exclusions and lowering the rates.

The new, simplified code outlined in this budget will continue to raise sufficient revenue to fund the government by broadening the tax base, eliminating or limiting as necessary existing tax deductions, exclusions, and other special provisions. These carve-outs have distorted economic activity and necessitated high tax rates that hurt growth. Getting rid of these tax expenditures will make the tax code simpler, fairer and more conducive to economic growth and job creation. [Path to Prosperity, pg. 53]

This is a great move toward a sane tax policy. Unfortunately, Rep. Ryan doesn't get any more specific than this. He mentions eliminating tax expenditures but doesn't list which ones can be cut. Now, at his AEI speech, he mentioned that Rep. Dave Camp, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, has more power over setting tax policy, so that may be out of necessity.

What is a little more disappointing is the comparatively light reform to Social Security. The budget recommends that, if the Social Security program is found to be unsustainable, the President be required to submit a plan to bring it back into balance. However, there's no major fiscal reform. In fact, compared to the CBO baseline, the Ryan budget offers zero change.

This was reported to be the case last week by the Hill, but it's still disappointing nonetheless. Tax reform and Social Security have turned out to be pretty glaring omissions from the Ryan Path to Prosperity.