Ryan & Christie, the GOP’s Dynamic Duo

September 13, 2010

Meet Paul Ryan and Chris Christie, the GOP’s dynamic and dangerous duo. One is the author of “A Roadmap for America’s Future,” a bold blueprint that shows policymakers how they can shrink entitlement spending while also growing the economy. The other is the Garden State’s chief executive and YouTube sensation who’s implementing his own roadmap in a blue state drowning in red ink. Both are fighting back hard against the idea that government spending can’t be cut and thus taxes must be raised in order restore America’s long-term fiscal solvency.

Now this is the worst sort of heresy to the liberal economic intelligentsia — and mainstream media — who all pretty much belong to the cult of Adolph Wagner, a German economist who died in 1917. Wagner’s Law basically says that as a nation gets wealthier, its citizens demand more social services and bigger government. As a result, it’s far easier for government to raise taxes than cut spending. Not surprisingly, Wagnerians are enthusiastic supporters of layering a value-added tax onto the current U.S. income tax system.

Peter Orszag, the just-departed White House budget chief, is an obvious Wagnerian. He told CNN over the weekend that America cannot afford the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. None of them. Not the ones for the rich (and entrepreneurs and investors). Not the ones for the middle class. They all have to go, every last smidge of them. “We, unfortunately, can’t afford the tax cuts over the medium and long term,” Orszag said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” program. “We face too large a deficit out in 2015, 2018, 2020.”

Really? Really? Now let’s say all the tax cuts were permanently extended — Orszag’s nightmare scenario. According to Orszag’s old pals at the Congressional Budget Office, federal tax revenue would be 18.6 percent of GDP in 2020, 19.2 percent in 2035, 19.8 percent in 2050 and 22 percent in 2080. In other words, even with all the tax cuts extended, government revenue would still rise well above its historical average of roughly 18 percent since World War Two.

Instead, it’s historically unprecedented government spending that’s behind the projected debt explosion. As the CBO itself puts it:

As a result, revenues would grow only slightly faster than the economy, equaling 22 percent of GDP by 2080. Slowly growing revenues combined with sharply rising expenditures would create an explosive fiscal situation. Under the spending and revenue policies incorporated in this scenario, federal debt would surpass 100 percent of GDP in 2023 and exceed 200 percent of GDP by the late 2030s.

And although the Wagnerians think they are marching along with History, they somehow seem to have missed a generation of growing American skepticism about the size and scope of government, beginning with the Reagan Revolution in the 1980s. More recently, there’s been widespread revulsion at the Obama spending orgy and his monstrous deficits, evidenced by tea parties and polls today and perhaps by vote totals in November.

And the political personification of this revolt: Ryan and Christie. But for the Wagner cultists, these heretics just don’t compute. How can they be America’s fastest-rising political stars by preaching such a different truth — a message of smaller government fully in line with America’s deep values of self-reliance, private enterprise and entrepreneurism? For the Wagnerians, however, Ryan and Christie are like a nasty computer virus that threatens to overwrite America’s liberal operating system.

But the two rebels are putting the lie to such dogma. They are lighting a different way forward, one to a more fiscally sustainable and prosperous U.S. economic future.

20 comments

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Hear hear. I gotta check these guys out.

Posted by Gotthardbahn | Report as abusive

Another article by a reporter who has no idea what he is talking about. Christie hasn’t cut one government program or laid off one government employee. He supports Obamacare, Amnesty, Cap and Trade and the GZ Mosque. In fact, while Ryan is a solid conservative, Christie and Obama are in sync on every single issue. Christie’s “budget cuts” consist of not making this year’s $3 Billion pension payment (nor does he plan to make next year’s either), ending homeowner rebates and state aid to every suburban and rural town. Unfortunately, he has kept the taxes in place that fund those rebates and are supposed to give state aid to lower property taxes. My property taxes are up $1000 this year. But this “reporter” wouldn’t know that because clearly, to him, New Jersey is just some place on a map. It’s an insult to Paul Ryan to put him in the same sentence with this liberal RINO jerk.

Posted by BobbyRomano | Report as abusive

First of all, the notion that the mainstream media is a mouthpiece for the left is a myth spread by the our growing cult of rightwing extremism. It doesn’t even make sense. the “mainstream media” is owned by corporations and corporations hate any form of regulations. Though corporations contribute to both Democrats and Republicans in order to hedge their bets–though not equally because they give more to the Republicans–our corporate world favors Republicans because Republicans are easier to get to do their bidding, like maximum deregulation and tax cuts for their owners and top tier officers, and bailouts for their banks.

It wouldn’t make any sense for the mainstream media to be liberal when all they really care about is making money by selling commercial airtime and since our country now leans right of center (thanks to Rightwing propaganda), so do our television and radio media outlets. It’s just that FOX News is so far to the right that it makes everything else appear to be to the left of it. So let’s quit pretending the media has a liberal bias. It’s an important piece of the Rightwing extremist’s propaganda so that Americans will interpret everything they see or hear on television or radio from a more rightwing point of view than as presented.

One other myth that this author is utilizing needs puncturing and that’s the false intimation that Bush’s tax cuts for America’s wealthiest contributes to job creation. On balance, no jobs were created during the Bush Administration’s tenure. The idea that Bush’s tax cuts for the rich creates jobs is another lie that’s been heavily perpetrated by the Rightwing propaganda machine. The obvious problem with this myth is that it ignores the economics 101 tenet of supply and demand.

Business owners will create jobs and grow their businesses only through demand and since wages in the US have remained stagnant for several decades now–and more importantly, their spending power has atrophied to the point where saving money means not spending in our economy or doing without health care–jobs, at least in the US, will be slow in coming. The wealthy have been getting wealthier but taking what is left of the Middle Class’s once sizable wealth and by shipping their manufacturing outside of the US.

What I take issue with is the propagandized notion that if we keep the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, the wealthy in turn will create jobs. This is a misnomer. It’s a piece of supply side economics which has proven to be a gross failure which started with Reagan and has culminated in the disastrous economy we have today. The top 3% who own 97% of America’s wealth have all the money they need for investing in business and creating jobs. To give them even more money won’t encourage job growth. It will go to overseas investment, as we’ve been witnessing for the past 2 decades.

If we want to improve America’s economy the focus has to be on the Middle Class. Until the Middle Class can get it’s groove back, demand, at least here in the US, will continue to stagnate. Give the tax cuts to the Middle Class; take back the tax cuts Bush gave the wealthy and use that to pay back America for bailing them out through the bank bailout (a $700 billion bailout and $700 billion in taxes over 10 years–it’s really quite fair); give tax cuts to small business; take the crushing health care burden off of the backs of American companies and their employees through a single payer public option program (We are the only modern country who doesn’t have some form of government sponsored health care. The fact that our system is also the most expensive and covers the smallest percentage of the population is why no other countries are clamoring for an American-style health care system. After all, if our system was the best, why wouldn’t the rest of the world be striving to change their systems to be more “Americanized”?); and encourage organized labor movements in countries that don’t have organized labor. After all, if we can use our power to promote democracy (even to the point of invading a country in order to “spread” democracy to that country, whether they want it or not) then we can do much to give a voice to the voiceless workers of other countries, raise their standard of living, and make American companies more competitive.

There are a lot of other things that we can do for America’s Middle Class, but I’ll leave it for another day. It’s time America’s Middle Class stops listening to the Rightwing extremist propaganda that is hurt them and start taking back their country.

Posted by ginchinchili | Report as abusive

Republicans like to paint themselves as the champions of fiscal concervatism and small government, but in my lifetime, Reagan, Bush 1 and Bush 2 all set record deficits during their administrations. They were all for the tax cutting part, but not so much into the reducing spending part.

It amazes me that he right continues to get away with branding itself as the party that is going to shrink government and balance the budget when for the past 30 years, they’ve had ample chances to do so, but have failed miserably each time.

Posted by mcoleman | Report as abusive

For all the shock and awe, I don’t hear (or see?) any real proposals. What is gonna get cut – which programs, how much will it save etc. I’ve never heard one iota of a plan come from frothing teabaggers (other than ship out immigrants, 99% of whom are hardworking Joes that do the jobs Americans cannot or will not do) or other ‘fiscal tighteners’. Neocons love to point out the miracles of Reaganomics, but those policies shifted from tax moneys to debt – can’t go down that path anymore. Want to tackle govt waste? It cost $1m for every person employed in American Expeditionary forces… back stateside the govt can put those people to work for maybe $150k. So just ending the wars and spending that money here will create 1.5m jobs (seeing as there are about 300k in Iraq and Afghan.) Plus we create something with the money (like infrastructure) instead of destroy foreign countries… sounds like a good start to me.

Posted by CDN_finance | Report as abusive

It is not just the so-called liberal left that says we cannot afford the tax breaks. Just listen to David Stockman who describes himself as a Conservative Republican. I once was a Conservative Republican but someone left the doors of the lunatic bin open. Every evangelical, every conspiracy theorist, the Posse Commitatus, the John Birch Society, and every other wing nut like Newt Gingrich who believes himself not only above the law but the law took over the Republican Party as I knew it.

We cannot afford to become like every other third world country that is a land of the rich and the land of everyone else. That is what the outcome of Paul Ryan and Chris Christie actually will be. If you do not believe it, analyze for yourself where the wealth has accumulated since 1982. Power has shifted to the rich and has nearly established a de facto wealth aristocracy in the country once again. If you liked the historical era where the wealthy ruled this country before in the late 1800′s and the early 1900′s, you will truly like what the dynamic duo are proposing whether they realize it or not. They just do not understand economics. They do understand business and which side of the bread the butter needs to be applied.

Posted by Actually2 | Report as abusive

Sorry, I had to make grammatical corrections.

It is not just the so-called liberal left that says we cannot afford the tax breaks. Just listen to David Stockman who describes himself as a Conservative Republican and also says we cannot afford the tax breaks. He says the cuts for the wealthy in 1981 were just a trickle down ploy they created. No wealthy person was really paying the 70% tax due to tax shelters that were used extensively. (Give the former Reagan OMB Chief a Google.) I once was a Conservative Republican also but someone left the doors of the lunatic bin open. Every evangelical, every conspiracy theorist, the Posse Commitatus, the John Birch Society, and every other wing nut like Newt Gingrich who believes himself not only above the law but is the LAW took over the Republican Party as I knew it.

We cannot afford to become like every other third world country that is a land of the rich and the land of everyone else. That is what the outcome of Paul Ryan and Chris Christie’s plan actually will be. If you do not believe it, analyze for yourself where the wealth has accumulated since 1982. Power has shifted to the rich and has nearly established a de facto wealth aristocracy in our country once again. If you liked the historical era where the wealthy ruled this country before during the late 1800′s and the early 1900′s, you will truly like what the dynamic duo are proposing whether they realize it or not. They just do not understand economics. They do understand business and which side of the bread the butter needs to be applied.

Posted by Actually2 | Report as abusive

good job everyone above and especially ginchinchili

Posted by Actually2 | Report as abusive

good job everyone above and especially ginchinchili

Posted by Actually2 | Report as abusive

Only one problem – Christie has actually increased spending and taxes in NJ. The rhetoric doesn’t match the reality.

Posted by NJConservative | Report as abusive

Sheesh.

First off, virtually every study ever done says the MSM skew left, from the editors down to the fact checkers. It’s not a “myth,” it’s a carefully measured, well-documented phenomenon.

Second, you don’t seem to understand what a corporation is. “Corporations” aren’t some monolithic interest group. There are left-wing corporations, right-wing, centrist, apolitical, etc. Michael Moore’s production company is a “corporation.” A “corporation” is a just a legal agreement that defines property rights among a group of people in an enterprise.

And finally, Democrats received FAR more money from them in the last few elections.

As for the idea there’s an “aristocracy” in the U.S. — the new rich are people like Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin… people who started with an idea in a garage and did such a great job making our lives better they became rich. This is America, not some Third World kleptocracy like Venezuela or Cuba. That’s what the Democrats want us to be.

Posted by TallDave | Report as abusive

Dear, dear. You know your adored leader Nancy Pelosi has asked that you be more polite in your interactions with others. Your responses are going to give her the vapors for heaven sakes! Such vulgarity! Such name-calling! Hmmm… I know not everyone’s mother remembered to teach them well, but perhaps as adults, you might try to reach beyond what your childhood left you with and improve of your own accord. Who knows you might even teach your mothers a thing or two!

Posted by onebigmistake | Report as abusive

Dumb, dumb, dumb. When Reagan cut taxes government revenue went up. It was the Democratic congress that kept spending, spending, spending. And when Democrats see more money they spend more, they know nothing of restraint!

Posted by GB1976 | Report as abusive

“It wouldn’t make any sense for the mainstream media to be liberal when all they really care about is making money by selling commercial airtime and since our country now leans right of center (thanks to Rightwing propaganda), so do our television and radio media outlets.” –ginchinchili

Have you ever looked at the ratings some of these media outlets get? They aren’t very good.

What about print media? How many papers have folded over the last couple years? Do you think they are folding because they have a ton of readers?

The rest of your comment was just you contradicting yourself. First, tax cuts don’t create jobs or help the economy but then in the next paragraph they do. Make up your mind.

Posted by willt7311 | Report as abusive

Socialism always fails. Ryan and Christie are leading the way out of a government afflicted abyss. The ruling class are being sent home Nov 2.

Posted by chimneyrock | Report as abusive

I would just like to thank all those who posted thus far, especially Actually2 who went so far as to repost with grammatical corrections. I am not accustomed to posting in these forums and therefore would like to apologize in advance for my own grammatical errors. It’s just that your essays are so very informative. Perhaps you will further enlighten me. My wife and I are people who work incessantly. We are borderline wealthy from me working the equivalent of two full time jobs. She is trying to start a business manufacturing hair accessories for girls. I am embarrassed to say that we voted for Bush and was hoping that a change would make our lives better. But this does not seem to be the case.

Totaling it all up, we pay over half of what we make in tax. That includes state, federal and all of the myriad of other smaller taxes we have to pay. In fact, it seems the amount is closer to 60% given our tax bracket. I’m sure this is far to little for us to pay. But I was just was wondering what you people think is enough? How much are we supposed to contribute to those who don’t work as much as we? My wife is struggling to make her way through the absolutely crazy amount of red tape she must cut through to get her business started. Should this bother us; or, are we just “cry babies?” I am upset over the pending tax increases. Should I just carry on with a stiff upper lip, or am I appropriate in cutting back my work hours and deciding to decrease my discretionary spending?

Reflecting on my prior statement above, although Bush was not a good president, I at least always knew that he saw his enemies as living in a different country. Listening to this president I feel as though I am being roasted in a Reverend Wright sermon. And although I thoroughly appreciate all of the intense mental masturbation you do in your ivory tower, I just wonder how much relevance your theories have in the world of us working stiffs. And, incidentally, when you refer to Tea Party Patriots such as myself as “teabaggers,” it only strengthens our resolve. As for the mainstream media not tilting toward the left, I will have to respond by saying that Fox is not at all leaning toward the right. That argument might not make any sense to you. But now you at least know what your argument sounds like to me.

Posted by BrentF | Report as abusive

“Now this is the worst sort of heresy to the liberal economic intelligentsia — and mainstream media — who all pretty much belong to the cult of Adolph Wagner, a German economist who died in 1917. Wagner’s Law basically says that as a nation gets wealthier, its citizens demand more social services and bigger government.”

Why does this neccesarily mean Wagner thought that was a good thing? I don’t know enough either way, but why does believing that something is a historical pattern suddently mean believing that pattern is desirable?

Posted by ZPT | Report as abusive

First, I don’t think the article was discussing job creation. It was about revenue vs spending.
Second, corporations love regulations, provided they have a hand in writing the regulations. This is why corporations give to both parties; to have a place at the table. Regulations protect corporations and raise barriers for new entrants into the market place thus decreasing competition. And if you actually look at giving patterns, they give to whichever party is in power at a higher rate.

Posted by jelloman5000 | Report as abusive

[...] James Pethokoukis drives the point home: even with all the tax cuts extended, government revenue would still rise well above its historical average of roughly 18 percent since World War Two. [...]

There’s some stinky fish being sold here. For example: MSM is owned by corporations and therefore cannot be left leaning. Poppycock! Did you not see what happened to the GM bond holders…summarily wiped out their rights by the heavy hand of government. Do you not realize many of the large “corporations” have become kingdoms? Kingdoms run by CEO’s with their own personal agendas. Some of these coporations have stopped looking out for their shareholders, (think GE)and have CEO’s that are statists. Most trained in the Ivy’s schools of business and law…America’s best and brightest which have brought us this mess! Why are they corporations that like statism…because, they believe the “state” will choose them through cronisim and they will control the market, run off competition, and win the big trophy of market dominance. Remember where they learned their business ethics…it wasn’t on Main Street where Moms/Pops made sure they made payroll first and often went without to keep the company going. No these CEO’s and Board Members were educated by progressives so they are not corporate America of the free market system. Why do you think Immeldt of GE is still there…surely not due to his great management and ROI for shareholders?

Posted by SunnyJ | Report as abusive

I find it funny how those who obviously LOATHE Republicans, and for the most part conservative America, never think that the majority of the mainstream media is not obviously seen as biased towards the Democrat and the agenda of the left. I guess that’s why they are doing so well these days.
First point : BOTH PARTIES ARE HISTORICALLY AT FAULT!!! So get off your high horses. Unfortunately every huge entitlement program we have has been initiated by one party, and that would be the Democrats, and THAT is what this article is discussing. The difference is conservatives are advocating a serious change, and the left is advocating more of the same.
What we have here is just a stark contrast of opinions on the best way to get this nation back on track financially.
YOU believe that the more people make, the more government should take in order to fund a massive amount of entitlements to give to other people. That, simply defined, is what the writer was talking about with Wagner’s theory. You all seem to believe this because somewhere along the road you have convinced yourselves that successful people are bad people who live like Scrooge McDuck, and sleep on pillows of money. You also seem to hold some silly notion that poor people exist because rich people have sucked up all the money before other people have gotten a chance to get their shot at it. If the creation of wealth creates poor people, then you also have to believe that the destruction of wealth would make less poor people.
WE (conservatives) believe in the same things the founders believed in, and what the country used to stand for. We believe it is the responsibility of the INDIVIDUAL to pursue their own ambitions to better their lives. Not to have an over powering government distribute the opportunity. Government cannot distribute the “American Dream”, it can only be earned through hard work, risk, and sacrifice! We do not HATE successful people. We do not believe in class warfare, pitting one group against another. We do not believe in a “class system” to keep people in their place. We believe that every person who was born, or legally immigrated to this country, has the same level of opportunity to succeed, and they have the same level of opportunity to be useless bump on a log. It’s their own decision. The only thing that REALLY stands in the way of person’s success is the intrusive overbearing weight of a huge government.

Posted by EchoMike | Report as abusive