White House Knocks Republican Alternative Budget

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In a conference call this morning, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag directly addressed the alternative budget plan put forward by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan. Said Orszag:

I think it’s easy to lob criticisms, but part of governing needs — or part of the policy process needs to involve putting forward alternatives. I haven’t seen on the Senate side an alternative budget and my understanding is there won’t be one.  So it’s kind of — it seems off to be criticizing without putting forward an alternative.

The alternative that has been put forward by Representative Ryan in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago embodies $3 trillion in tax cuts, including for very high-income individuals and for corporations.  It involves — and let’s look at this from a fiscal perspective — it involves setting up privatization under Social Security and having the federal government bear all the downside risk there.  So if that system had been in place over the past few years, the federal government would have incurred massive amounts of liabilities to make individual accounts whole for the stock market declines that have occurred.  And it involves an approach to health care in which you’re given a check for 80 percent of the cost of health care, which then declines over time, and told to go off and just sort of fend for yourself.

So in terms of an alternative vision, I think — at least it’s my impression, that that is the only thing that’s been out there.  And I think the flaws in it are pretty clear.