Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Michael Gerson gives Paul Ryan a shoulder to cry on

From today's Michael Gerson column in the Washington Post, Paul Ryan bemoans how his deceptively packaged plan to shred the social safety net is being pilloried.

The attack "came out of the Democratic National Committee, and that is the White House," Ryan told me recently, sounding both disappointed and unsurprised. On the deficit, Obama's outreach to Republicans has been a ploy, which is to say, a deception. Once again, a president so impressed by his own idealism has become the nation's main manufacturer of public cynicism.

To Ryan, the motivations of Democratic leaders are transparent. "They had an ugly week of budget news. They are precipitating a debt crisis, with deficits that get up to 85 percent of GDP and never get to a sustainable level. They are flirting with economic disaster." So they are attempting some "misdirection," calling attention to Ryan's recently updated budget road map -- first unveiled two years ago -- which proposes difficult entitlement reforms. When all else fails, change the subject to Republican heartlessness.

This quote cracked me up:

But unlike Kemp -- who didn't give a rip for deficits, being focused exclusively on economic growth -- Ryan is the cheerful prophet of deficit doom. "For the first generation of supply-siders," he explains, "the fiscal balance sheet was not as bad. The second generation of supply-siders needs to be just as concerned about debt and deficits. They are the greatest threats to economic growth today."

It would have been nice if Paul Ryan had demonstrated concern about deficits when he provided a critical vote for the deficit-financed Medicare drug benefit, which is more expensive than the Dem health care plan. Bruce Bartlett:

Just to be clear, the Medicare drug benefit was a pure giveaway with a gross cost greater than either the House or Senate health reform bills how being considered. Together the new bills would cost roughly $900 billion over the next 10 years, while Medicare Part D will cost $1 trillion.

Moreover, there is a critical distinction--the drug benefit had no dedicated financing, no offsets and no revenue-raisers; 100% of the cost simply added to the federal budget deficit, whereas the health reform measures now being debated will be paid for with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, adding nothing to the deficit over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. (See here for the Senate bill estimate and here for the House bill.)


  1. I saw the article on the Post site. Couldn't find a place for comments; I wanted to ask the author if he knew how many times Ryan voted to add to the deficit when Bush was in charge.

  2. Thank you for posting this. It’s exactly what I was looking for!