The Ryan Budget as Political Theater

From “Call That a Budget?,” James Surowiecki, The New Yorker:

“The C.B.O. analysis of Ryan’s plan, for instance, finds that, by 2050, all the government’s discretionary spending, including defense, would represent just 3.75 per cent of G.D.P.  Given that defense spending in the postwar era has never been less than three per cent of G.D.P., and that Republicans won’t consider cutting it, the rest of the government’s discretionary sending would have to be squeezed out of that remaining 0.75 per cent.  This is a derisory number — in the entire postwar era, it has never been less than eight per cent.

“It’s true, of course, that this budget will never become reality….  The budget is, as many have said, an act of political theater. … In that sense, the Ryan plan is not about fiscal responsibility.  It’s about pushing a very particular, and very ideological, view of the proper relationship between government and society.  The U. S. does need to get its finances in order.  It just doesn’t need to repeal the twentieth century to do so.”  Italics in original; emphasis added.