Reagan, Ryan, and Exploding Deficits

Right-wing media have claimed that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is “the ideological heir” to Ronald Reagan, while ignoring a big part of what makes this statement true: Reagan and Ryan both supported policies that vastly increased the federal deficit.

On Saturday Mitt Romney named Rep. Ryan as his running mate, resulting in praise from right-wing media figures. Rush Limbaugh proclaimed that Ryan is “from the camp of Ronaldus Magnus.”

Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt claimed Ryan was the “ideological heir to Reagan's movement.” Fox News contributor KT MacFarland said: “With a Romney-Ryan ticket, it's like Reagan again.” And Fox host Andrea Tantaros claimed Ryan “sounds very Reaganesque.”

But none of them mentioned one of the most important similarities between Ryan and Reagan: the fact that, while they talked about reining in deficits, they both supported policies that vastly increased the deficit.

According to the Office of Management and Budget's historical data, during his presidency, Reagan saw federal spending increase by 22 percent. Additionally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the federal deficit nearly doubled under Reagan, going from about $790 billion to $1.55 trillion.

Reagan also signed debt ceiling increases 18 times during his presidency.

Similarly, Ryan's most recent budget would explode the deficit over the next decade.

The non-partisan Tax Policy Center, in March 23 post concluded that Ryan's most recent tax proposals would “add $4.6 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade.” And A March 20 Center for American Progress post broke down Ryan's budget and concluded that based on the actual, specific taxing and spending proposals Ryan has made, "[t]he national debt, measured as a share of GDP, would never decline, surpassing 80 percent by 2014, and 90 percent by 2022." The below graph accompanied this claim:

Furthermore Ryan, through the course of his career, supported measures that have significantly added to the deficit. In 2001 and 2003, Ryan voted for the Bush tax cuts, tax cuts that did “lasting harm to the deficit.”

In 2003, Ryan also voted for Medicare Part D, a program that Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman said created a $9.4 trillion hole in the federal government's books.

Ryan has also repeatedly pushed to partially privatize Social Security, a plan that reportedly “would require $2.4 trillion in additional costs over the first 10 years.”

Right-wing media may continue to suggest that Ryan is the second coming of Ronald Reagan, but they will invariably ignore their massive contributions to the federal debt.