Monday, March 15, 2010

Does Paul Ryan know where his Roadmap leads?

The fact that Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Social Security might ultimately lead to a federal bailout caught our eye nearly two years ago. And it caught the CBPP's as well ... and Ryan's response suggests the celebrated wonk has no idea of the implications of his bill.

Cost of the Social Security Guarantee

Ryan’s Assertion : Ryan challenges our statement that his requirement that the Treasury bail out private-account holders for stock-market losses could cost $2.9 trillion and that this cost is not reflected in the CBO report on his plan. He claims that CBO explicitly estimated this cost and included it in its projections of his plan.

Our Response : Once again, Rep. Ryan is mistaken and our statements are accurate. We wrote, “These potential bailout costs — like the cost of the plan’s very large tax cuts — are not reflected in the CBO estimates that Rep. Ryan cites when touting the plan’s fiscal responsibility.” We confirmed the accuracy of this statement with CBO before issuing our report. CBO conducted separate analyses of the proposed benefit guarantee, but CBO’s budget estimates reported in Appendix II of the Ryan plan do not include the cost of the guarantee. Moreover, the $2.9 trillion cost estimate does not come from us, as Rep. Ryan implies. Our report clearly states that it is the estimate of the Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration, based on an earlier version of Rep. Ryan’s plan and taking stock-market risk into account.

Why oh why do people take Paul Ryan seriously?

Paul Ryan, admit you want to privatize Social Security already

Krugman explains why.

Paul Ryan's plans can bear little scrutiny...same goes for his defenses

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities eviscerates Paul Ryan's Roadmap for America's Future. Paul Ryan responds. Paul Ryan probably wishes he didn't.

Paul Ryan distorts Obamacare, but what else is new

Media Matters fact checks Paul Ryan's latest op ed in The Washington Post.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Paul Ryan's Randian road map

Ever since the intrepid Howard Gleckman revealed that the Road Map for America's Future does not, in fact, balance the budget, there's been a great deal of well-deserved piling on. Paul Ryan's response to the critique, meanwhile, is anemic.

But one of the more interesting analyses is by Jonathan Chait, who puts the Road Map in historical-political context:

The roadmap clarifies the essence of the Republican Party's approach to domestic policy issues. The essence is opposition to the downward redistribution of income. The principle first emerged under Ronald Reagan, but only in fits and starts--Republican presidents agreed to a tax reform in 1986 and a deficit reduction in 1990 that did redistribute income from rich to poor. Over the last twenty years, though, opposition to downward redistribution has hardened into the sacred tenet of Republican policymaking. Ryan's plan both codifies this principle and shows just how far the party is willing to go in its service.

Every major element of Ryan's plan reflects this commitment. Begin with his proposed tax changes.

Why does Ryan roll this way? Blame it on Ayn:

The core of the Randian worldview, as absorbed by the modern GOP, is a belief that the natural market distribution of income is inherently moral, and the central struggle of politics is to free the successful from having the fruits of their superiority redistributed by looters and moochers. What's telling about Ryan's program is not so much that a hard-core ideologue like him would advocate it. It's that virtually the whole of the conservative movement has embraced him. ...

The rise of Ryan is a sign that the possibilities for bipartisan cooperation on domestic issues are, at the moment, essentially nil. This point is obscured by the figure of Ryan, a cheerful and courteous man who gives every sense of wanting to deal in good faith. But his goals, which are now fully the goals of the conservative movement and the Republican Party, are diametrically opposed to the liberal vision of capitalism shorn of its cruelest edges. His basic moral premises are foreign, even abhorrent, to liberals. He seems like a person you'd like to negotiate with, but there's nothing to negotiate over. Ryan is waging a zero sum fight over resources on behalf of the most fortunate members of society and against everybody else.

Ryan is better understood as an ideologue -- a great pol and a great marketer, to be sure, but first and foremost and ideologue -- than as a wonk.

NYT conservative columnist Ross Douthat attempts a response, failing utterly to take into account how the CBO notes that poor seniors get screwed in Ryan's plan to blow up Medicare.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why does the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's coverage of Paul Ryan suck?

In today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel we learn that Paul Ryan is "praised" for his alternative health-care plan.

Who's doing the praising? A guy from the Heritage Foundation and a former McCain advisor.

Shocking that two rightwingers would praise Ryan.

The story says:

Ryan's proposal, part of what he calls "A Roadmap for America's Future," would replace the existing Medicare benefit for people under 55 with a voucher that could be used to buy private insurance. The payment, which Ryan has said would initially average $11,000 a year, would be adjusted for inflation and tied to income.

That would lessen the fiscal challenges facing the Medicare program because health care spending outpaces overall inflation. But at the same time, it could lower costs by putting pressure on doctors and hospitals to become more efficient.

The story fails to note that the way Ryan's plan really lowers cost is by balancing the budget on the backs of poor seniors.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Shocking news: Paul Ryan misleads on Obamacare

Deficit chickenhawk Paul Ryan's star turn during the health care summit set tongues wagging in the right wing blogosphere, including this guy, and Wingnutty Investors Business Daily smirked that no one had refuted Paul Ryan's arguments.

That may be because Paul Ryan's critiques, while dishonest, are indisputably well crafted.

Meanwhile, Ezra Klein has that response that so many on the right were waiting for:
To sum up, then, Ryan makes some good points about the true cost of the bill and realities of the federal budget. But he purposefully omits any mention of the bill's expected savings, disingenuously attaches the price tag of a broken Republican policy onto the health-care reform bill, and selectively stops extrapolating trends when they don't fit his points. It's a presentation designed to make the bill look less fiscally responsible than it really is.

But don't listen to me. Robert Reischauer is the head of the Urban Institute. He's also one of the CBO's most revered former directors, in no small part because his relentlessly honest cost estimates helped doom Bill Clinton's bill in 1994. I reached him earlier today and asked whether he thought this bill made fiscal sense. "Were I in Congress and asked to vote on this," he replied, "I'd vote in favor." The bill isn't perfect, he continued, "but it at least has the prospect for creating a platform over which more significant and far-reaching cost containment can be enacted."