• Tax cuts for "the rich."
The Ryan budget outline by design does not provide many tax specifics, aside from an instruction to the Ways and Means Committee to propose a reform plan that would swap lower rates for fewer loopholes and special exclusions. This overhaul is not even a net tax cut—the instructions are to design a reform that is revenue neutral. It would hold tax receipts to their post-World War II average of between 18% to 19% as a share of the economy.
The liberal claim that this means a tax cut for the wealthy is based entirely on the fact that marginal tax rates would decline, even though the loopholes primarily benefit higher-income taxpayers. At any rate, Mr. Obama's own deficit commission also favored lowering the rates and broadening the base for a more efficient and competitive tax code.
• Medicare "cuts."
The Mediscare machinery is grinding into gear, and the same people who say Mr. Ryan is imposing too much pain on seniors by requiring them to pay a larger portion of their health costs also claim that he's a coward for exempting everyone in or near retirement. In other words, the soup is terrible and the portions are too small.
Mr. Ryan's plan, known as premium support, would gradually bring down health costs and spending, but it's a "cut" only in the sense of slowing the rate of growth.
The premium support subsidy—for seniors to choose from a list of regulated private health plans—would start at $15,000 a year and increase annually. It is also means-tested to provide more help for lower-income seniors.