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Paul Ryan's Budget Proposals Have Drawn Much Criticism From Liberal Economists

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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has faced strong criticism from liberal economists. | Getty Images

Liberal economists have long been critical of Paul Ryan.

The conservative Wisconsin congressman, who was announced as Mitt Romney's running mate on Saturday, first drew fire in 2010, when he pitched his federal budget plan as an alternative to President Obama's.

Dubbed the "Roadmap for America's Future," that plan and Ryan's subsequent budget proposals would do things like cut Medicaid and food stamp funding and create a two-tier tax rate system and a voucher-like system for Medicare.

Economist Paul Krugman has been especially vocal in his assessment of Ryan's budget. In August 2010, he wrote a New York Times op-ed titled "The Flimflam Man" and critiqued Ryan's Roadmap, saying:

That is, Mr. Ryan may speak about the deficit in apocalyptic terms, but even if you believe that his proposed spending cuts are feasible — which you shouldn’t — the Roadmap wouldn’t reduce the deficit. All it would do is cut benefits for the middle class while slashing taxes on the rich.

Last year, Krugman criticized Ryan's budget proposals as "ludicrous" and "cruel."

Matt Miller, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, was also critical of the Roadmap in 2010, and wrote in the Washington Post:

The CBO says your road map would put spending at 22.2 percent of GDP in 2020 and 23.5 percent in 2040. With revenue capped at 19 percent, that means Paul Ryan stands for deficits that would be 3 percent to 4 percent of GDP for at least the next 30 years, which would balloon the debt by trillions, to 100 percent of GDP from 53 percent in 2009. If you're supposedly willing to make "the hard choices," why wouldn't you balance the budget as soon as the economy is back on track? What kind of "fiscal conservative" has a half-century plan to balance the budget?

Uwe E. Reinhardt, an economics professor at Princeton, criticized Ryan's health care plan. "The specific proposals aside, does the Ryan plan offers anything to control overall health-care spending?" he wrote in April 2011. "No, nor does that appear to have been Mr. Ryan’s objective."

New York Times economist Joe Nocera also weighed in on Ryan's health care plan in May 2011 in an article called "Don't Scorn Paul Ryan":

The Ryan plan, which would give seniors a fixed amount they can use to buy health insurance, would undoubtedly shift the cost burden over time from the government to seniors themselves, making health care far less affordable for millions of people. Ryan says that “empowering” health care consumers will help control costs, but that’s absurd: Medicare itself has far more pricing power than the people who actually need treatment.

And in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in 2011, liberal economist and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Blinder was highly critical of the GOP budget and Ryan's proposals:

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, about two-thirds of Mr. Ryan's so-called courageous budget cuts would come from programs serving low- and moderate-income Americans, while the rich would gain from copious tax cuts. That's courage? This reverse-Robin Hood redistribution is bad enough in the abstract. Coming on the heels of 30-plus years of rising inequality, it is breathtakingly mean-spirited. But was such class warfare necessary to make the budget numbers work?

However, the conservative editorial page of the Wall Street Journal has supported Ryan, writing in August 2010:

Mr. Ryan has one of the few credible plans for rationalizing the federal fisc, and his critics are so vicious because his candor exposes Washington's illusions about the entitlement state while offering a genuine alternative.

More recently, Nobel-prize winning economist and vocal liberal Joseph Stiglitz said in a June 2012 interview with Amy Goodman on "Democracy Now" that Ryan's plan "is weakening our basic economic fiber."

While Romney is already working to distance himself from Ryan on certain budget topics, Glenn Hubbard, dean of Columbia Business School and an economic adviser to Romney, has endorsed both Romney's and Ryan's budget plans, and he drew comparisons between them in an interview with the Daily Ticker in March.

"What both Rep. Ryan's and Gov. Romney's plans have in common is the notion of tax reform: broaden base and lower the rates, both corporate and individual," he said. "[Both] reduce growth in government spending, particularly in entitlement spending the two plans are very similar."

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