Ryan And Redistribution
March 24, 2010
The most remarkable and revealing speech of the health care debate was delivered by Paul Ryan, the new right-wing idol. In the preceding weeks, Ryan had largely cast his opposition to health care reform in the wonkiest of terms, assailing the administration's claims to fiscal responsibility.
Of all the conservative complaints about health care reform, the one I find most baffling is the notion that the financing is phony because it fails to account for physician pay increases. The complaint is 100% phony. And yet it continues to be repeated over and over in the conservative media, recycling through a misinformation feedback loop. The complaint gained new momentum and publicity last week, when right-wing icon Paul Ryan requested that the Congressional Budget Office calculate the cost of health care reform combined with physician pay increases.
Paul Ryan's Dessert-First Budget Plan
March 15, 2010
Last week, I wrote about the Randian philosophical roots of Paul Ryan's budget roadmap. The fiscal question interests me as well. The rationale for Ryan's rapid elevation to the pantheon of great conservative heroes is that his plan, unlike Obama's, can bring fiscal solvency. Here's the Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti, possibly Ryan's most tireless advocate: [Ryan's plan] effectively deals with the long-term fiscal crisis. The Obama budget, by contrast, projects record deficits and rising public debt long into the future. This, however, is totally untrue.
Paul Ryan And The Republican Vision
March 11, 2010
Conservatives are very excited about Paul Ryan and his budget roadmap. Liberals are also excited, for very different reasons, about Ryan and his roadmap. This tells you that the roadmap is a highly clarifying document. Ryan and his conservative allies believe that the roadmap clarifies the fact that they have laid out a plan to put the United States on sound fiscal footing, and the Democrats have not.
Smart Debt and Stupid Debt
March 11, 2010
Washington—There is a pathetic quality to our discussion of deficits and fiscal responsibility because we never face up to how much we need government to do. Our debates are also characterized by a politically convenient amnesia. Just a decade ago, we were running surpluses so big that Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, worried about what would happen once our national debt was liquidated. We had this problem well in hand until we started waging wars and cutting taxes at the same time. What would a rational approach to the budget look like?
The Greatest Virtue of the Republican Budget Plan
March 09, 2010
This past Friday, without much fanfare, CBO submitted its analysis of President Obama’s proposed FY 2011 budget. The bottom line is worse than we thought. Despite sustained economic recovery, the budget deficit under the president’s proposal never falls below 4 percent of GDP over the next decade and rises to 5.6 percent by 2020. The aggregate deficit during that period is $9.761 trillion—close to $1 trillion each year on average. Not surprisingly, debt held by the public rises steadily and reaches 90 percent of GDP by 2020.
What, You Have a Better Idea for Cost Control?
March 07, 2010
David Brooks thinks it. David Gregory thinks it. The Washington Post editorial page thinks it. And, what the heck, I think it. If health care reform passes Congress, the final legislation probably won't cut the cost of medical care as quickly as seems possible on paper. But would the legislation make a good start--as good a start as possible, given political reality? Brooks, Gregory, the Post, and plenty of other critics seem to think the answer is "no." I think they are nuts.
Paul Ryan Debunks Himself
March 05, 2010
Since conservatives continue to swoon unashamedly over Paul Ryan and his near-unique ability to ability to discuss health care at some higher level than Fox News talking points -- more examples of the Ryan love-fest can be found here and here -- I should interject to point out that Ryan has proven fairly unable to defend himself. If you're not following this gripping story, Ryan appeared at the Blair House summit and charged that President Obama's health care plan would increase rather than decrease deficits.
Revenge Of The Mayberry Machiavelli
March 02, 2010
In 2003, Ron Suskind wrote a famous article about the Bush administration's lack of interest in, or knowledge of, domestic policy. The article centered on the influence of Karl Rove and his staff: "There were no actual policy white papers on domestic issues. There were, truth be told, only a couple of people in the West Wing who worried at all about policy substance and analysis, and they were even more overworked than the stereotypical nonstop, twenty-hour-a-day White House staff.
Paul Ryan's Hokum
March 02, 2010
At last week's health care summit, Paul Ryan launched a broad attack on the fiscal soundness of President Obama's health care reform. rather than interjecting with a reply, Obama allowed the next speaker in line to make his point. It's possible that Obama, who had otherwise displayed tremendous command of the details of the issue, simply didn't know how to respond.