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Paul Ryan's Budgetary Vagueries

Paul Ryan today suggested that Republicans can come up with $700 billion in spending cuts to offset the cost of extending the Bush tax cuts. Now Democrats are pouncing with a demand that he specify them. Of course, he has not and, I predict, will not.

Ryan has recieved a lot of credit for putting his cards on the table and laying out a real balanced budget plan. But few of the plaudits note that Ryan has steadfastly declined to trim any programs that currently benefit anybody. He doesn't touch defense. Over the next ten years, he proposes a draconian cap on non-defense discretionary spending, but of course that's a category of program, not specific programs. he won't say what programs he'll cut to meet that target. Ryan does propose huge future cuts in Medicare, but those are very far off in the future and could easily be rescinded. (Ryan's cuts are far more distant, and less plausible, than the health care savings in the Affordable Care Act, which conservatives insist will never happen.)

So it's nice to see Ryan ante up and admit that we have to cut spending to pay for the Bush tax cut extensions. But if he won't admit what those cuts are, it's a pretty hollow statement.