*A budget perfect for April Fools’ Day

A BUDGET PERFECT FOR APRIL FOOLS’ DAY…. Rumor has it that Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, is one of the House GOP Caucus’ sharper members. He has a reputation for knowing what he’s talking about, and doing his homework. So, when I saw that he’d written an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal about the GOP’s budget alternative, I was anxious to see what he’d come up with.

To be sure, the roll-out for the alternative budget has been a rather humiliating fiasco, as evidenced by the Republican decision to unveil a budget with no numbers in it. And we won’t really be able to scrutinize the proposal until the caucus decides to release some, you know, data.

Today, however, Ryan sketches out at least some additional thoughts about the GOP vision.

Our plan halts the borrow-and-spend philosophy that brought about today’s economic problems, and puts a stop to heaping ever-growing debt on future generations — and it does so by controlling spending, not by raising taxes.

In reality, the “borrow-and-spend philosophy” did not create the crisis, so Ryan’s prescription is automatically based on a misdiagnosis. But even if we put that aside, the alternative budget reflects a political party that embraced a breathtakingly radical worldview.

In a nutshell, Ryan proposes a massive tax cut, totaling, by some estimates, around $4 trillion — on top of the Bush/Cheney cuts, which would remain place. The Republicans plan would voucherize Medicare, and, best of all, impose a five-year spending freeze on non-defense discretionary spending (which is, of course, completely insane).

Kenneth Baer, the OMB communications director, said this morning, “If you expected a GOP alternative to the failed policies of the past that got our country into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, then I have two words for you: April Fool’s.”

Based on Ryan’s vision, the stimulus package would be gone. Funding for education, healthcare, the environment, infrastructure, law enforcement, and medical research would all be slashed, while the wealthiest Americans are rewarded with massive new tax cuts.

It’s almost as if Ryan and his Republican colleagues are trying to destroy the economy. As Pat Garofalo recently explained, “The economic stimulus package’s main purpose is to close the GDP gap and jumpstart the economy by spurring spending by households, government and the private sector. A spending freeze would act as an ‘anti-stimulus,’ cutting spending precisely when it’s too low and the economy is moving too slowly.”

Paul Krugman added, “I’m shocked by the total intellectual collapse of the Republican Party in the face of this economic crisis…. I’d really like to see some genuine bipartisanship in America. But that can’t happen until we start having at least somewhat sane partisans.”

And if Paul Ryan is what passes today as a sane partisan, the Republican Party has a long way to go before it can sit at the big kids’ table.