Paul Ryan’s ‘economic doctrine thing’

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) talked to NPR yesterday about the differences between the parties when it comes to the budget and deficit reduction. Reader R.L. flagged this exchange as especially noteworthy.

NPR: As you look forward, if you’re going to reach an agreement with the Democrats that raises debt ceilings, avoids calamity, is there ultimately some room that you can imagine, for — from your standpoint — at least some nominal tax increase that gives the possibility for both sides to walk into a room and come out of a room and say, we got some of what we wanted here? Or is that absolutely…

RYAN: I don’t, yeah, I don’t see it. And let me explain why, and this isn’t a political thing. It’s an economic belief. It’s an economic doctrine thing.

And here I was concerned that congressional Republicans weren’t approaching fiscal policy with enough seriousness, depth of thought, or intellectual honesty. Additional revenue to close the budget gap is simply beyond the pale because Paul Ryan has “an economic doctrine thing”?

Well, then, why didn’t he just say so?

Of course, the right-wing Wisconsinite doesn’t have — or at least can’t point to — any substance to bolster this approach. For Ryan, whose numbers never seem to add up, it’s simply taken on faith. It’s about “beliefs” and “doctrines,” which make for fascinating philosophical debates, but awful policy solutions.

Perhaps we should look at this from another angle. I’d love for the House Budget Committee chairman to reconcile his “economic doctrine thing” with evidence like this from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

It’s more or less a conversation-ender. For Ryan, raising taxes necessarily means less growth and fewer jobs, while lowering taxes necessarily means stronger growth and more jobs. But “doctrine things” notwithstanding, we already know Paul Ryan is wrong, because we’ve already seen evidence that disproves his “economic beliefs.”

In the 1990s, a combination of higher taxes and reduced spending led to a strong economy and the complete elimination of the deficit. And it’s not the only example — as Reagan’s former budget director recently explained, Ronaldus Magnus raised taxes quite a bit in 1982, and the economy flourished soon after.

Jared Bernstein recently lamented the rise of the “NASTIE’s (Never-A-Stinkin’-Tax-Increase-Ever!),” all of whom are convinced that “any increase in tax rates will do irreparable harm to the economy.” As Bernstein documented very clearly, the “NASTIE’s” are, of course, completely wrong.

Paul Ryan’s “economic doctrine thing” is just nonsense.