Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 5:16 a.m.
Welcome to another post in our Allen West Fact Party series, in which we take claims made by the District 22 Republican and attempt to figure out whether they have a basis in reality.
Today's Fact Party analysis has plenty of honesty -- the problem, it appears, is in its practicality.
Republican Rep. Paul Ryan released a new budget plan on Tuesday that calls for massive cuts in almost every area of government spending. Congressman Allen West immediately issued a news release supporting it -- and if you have a problem with that, you can shut up.
"Anyone challenging me on my support to this visionary plan to restore our economic security will be signing up for a suicide mission
," West wrote on Facebook. "My recommendation to any detractors, read Proverbs 17:28 and heed its advice. It is time for those who understand how to govern, not demagogue."
Don't bother Googling it -- Proverbs 17:28 is "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue." Harrumph.
West's statement calls the new Ryan budget "a much needed blueprint for how this country goes forward" and says the plan "cuts spending by $5 trillion, while at the same time provides for a strong defense, restores economic freedom, and strengthens health and retirement."
The problem? According to an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, it looks like the plan is impossible.
While the CBO noted that it can't really predict the effects of the proscribed reductions in health-care spending, much of the savings are realized elsewhere -- and that's where the most concrete problems lie. The plan calls for all spending not related to social security or health care to be cut by 2050 to 3.75 percent of the country's economic output. For comparison, right now, it's around 12.5 percent. Ryan's cuts make projected deficit numbers look spectacular, but they're just not realistic.
Since World War II, government spending in those areas has never dipped below 8 percent of GDP -- Ryan wants to take that and reduce it by more than half. West had ardently defended military spending and decried cuts to the defense budgets, but Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in 2007 that 4 percent is the "absolute floor
" -- for defense spending alone
. It hasn't been lower than 3 percent since World War II.
So if we can't cut defense spending and that section of the budget has to fall by billions upon billions of dollars, there's only one place for the rest of it to come out of -- everything else. Veterans' benefits, infrastructure projects, federal agencies, education, student loans -- just make a list of every government program that isn't healing people or killing people and that's what the Ryan plan proposes to shave down to the bone.
So, while West said that "just as every hardworking American family crafts a budget to keep track of its income, expenses, essentials and priorities, the United States government must do the same," the Ryan budget looks to be the equivalent of a family balancing its monthly budget by allowing 30 or 40 cents a month on food and leaving a dime to fill up the gas tank. No wonder the Senate's going to kill the thing.
Below are two reports: The first is Ryan's proposal, the second is the CBO findings on a set of parameters they are clear to say might not necessarily be identical to the proposal.
More Allen West Fact Party analyses: