The Hill’s Pundits Blog  —  April 2, 2012

The Ryan ‘secret plan’

By Peter Fenn – 04/02/12 03:45 PM ET

Richard Nixon campaigned on a “secret plan” to end the war in Vietnam many, many years ago. It is still secret, very secret. Actually, it did not even exist.

Paul Ryan has a secret plan to attack the nation’s debt and balance the budget.

Just as with Richard Nixon, it doesn’t exist.

He puts cutting Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security “on the table,” along with just about everything else except defense. But he wants to cut taxes by extraordinary amounts right off the top: $4.6 trillion by lowering the rates and another $5.4 trillion by extending the Bush tax cuts (that have worked so well!).

That is a cool $10 trillion in tax cuts. There aren’t even close to enough cuts to make up that loss of revenue over the next decade.

So here is Ryan’s dirty little secret recipe — he will “close loopholes” to recoup that money, sprinkled with a secret sauce known as “economic growth.” Right.

So what is he proposing to make up the difference? He won’t tell us. He won’t spell it out. He won’t even give us an idea of his secret plan.

There are over 170 different tax breaks out there. Which ones will Ryan go after? The big ones for Americans, like the mortgage interest deduction? The deduction for medical insurance? For retirements and pensions? For state and local taxes paid? For taxes on homes? For charity?

He won’t tell us.

The fact is that the top five deductions account for 50 percent of the revenue loss, the top 10, 70 percent, and the top 20, 90 percent, according to a Congressional Research Service report of March 22, 2012. The top five deductions reduce revenue by over $570 billion a year.

Folks, the problem is that these are not deductions for corporate jets or other easy cuts, these are the programs that help people. Ryan won’t propose a plan, except to call them “loopholes.” This is disingenuous and wrong.

This is a secret, ideological budget, not an honest, real budget — and Paul Ryan knows it.