The Political Circus

by Russ Roberts on August 30, 2012

in Politics

Reader Blake McCoy asked Don or me to comment on Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America. Instead, I thought I’d write about why I won’t be writing about it.

First, I haven’t read it. In fact, I didn’t know it existed. One reason I haven’t read it is that it’s not a real roadmap. A roadmap is the path you plan to take. Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America is more like the plan he’d like me to think he’s going to take. Not the same thing.

It’s like a car company that sends me the brochure for their new car. The car looks fantastic–80 mpg, safer than a tank, twenty year warranty, parks itself, has tons of leg room in the back and trunk but it’s smaller than a normal-sized sedan. And it’s only $12,000.

I’ll take one, I say. Or at least I’d like to test-drive one. Sorry, says the car company. It won’t be ready until January, 2013. But boy it’s going to be great. Get yours today!

We don’t select our cars that way. But it is how we select our politicians. We select them based on the brochure. The Roadmap for America is the brochure.

I did see some of Ryan’s speech last night. I like many of his instincts. But it’s easy to say you’re going to get government down to 20% of GDP. I’d prefer a smaller number, but that’s a start. But when he doesn’t tell me how he’s going to do it, it’s like saying you’re going to sell me a car that doesn’t exist but when it does exist it’s going to get 200 mpg and still be a functional gasoline-powered car that seats six and not a lawn mower. But before I order one, I’d like to know how you’re going to manage that. And when he says he has a plan to create 12 million jobs in the next four years, I really don’t feel well at all. Beautiful brochure but I’m seen so many of those brochures before.

What I will say in Ryan’s favor is that at least he thinks the 20% number is a selling point. But he knows I feel that way. So I’ll believe it when I see it.

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