Paul Ryan Strikes Again: The Reihan Salam Edition

Reihan Salam is, best as I can tell, the smartest right-wing pundit of his generation. He also seems, by and large, to be a decent guy. He’s not especially vitriolic or militant and he usually sounds to me like someone who is more interested in the minutiae of policy than the bloodsport of politics. If everyone on the Right was like him, Daily Caller comment threads would be less noxious. I suppose there’s some marginal value in that.

But the more Salam tries to defend Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, the more difficult it becomes to appreciate his temperamental virtues. On his National Review blog, Salam’s tried to defend Ryan’s plan as a good-faith attempt to encourage social mobility. In his latest The Daily column, he’s endeavored to disprove the President’s claim that Ryan’s advocating “thinly veiled social Darwinism.”

In both instances he’s failed; and he’s failed in a manner that could lead an informed observer to question whether his arguments are consciously misleading or if the sophistry is an unavoidable consequence of supporting a transparently disingenuous politician.

First to the blog. A few days, ago Salam responded to an Ezra Klein piece he called “a lucid distillation of the emerging case against the Ryan budget.” Here’s the main take-away from the Klein piece:

[Ryan’s] right that the growth of social spending on the elderly is crowding out spending on the poor. And he was more convincing because he seemed to admit a hard truth that Republicans often deny: that government programs for the poor are a crucial way of ensuring income mobility, and as they get squeezed, so, too, do the life chances of those born at the base of the income ladder.

But it is difficult to believe that Ryan’s budget was written by the same guy…The cuts to education, to food stamps, to transportation infrastructure and to pretty much everything else besides defense are draconian. As for the tax reform component, it cuts taxes on millionaires by more than $250,000, but it doesn’t name a single loophole or tax break that Ryan and the Republicans would close.

In the end, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 62 percent of the cuts come from programs for low-income Americans and 37 percent of the tax benefits go to the few Americans earning more than $1 million.…

Five months ago, Ryan…condemned “empty promises that betray the powerless” and praised “the American idea that justice is done when we level the playing field at the starting line.” But it is hard to see his budget as anything less than a betrayal of the powerless.

And here’s a part of Salam’s response:

Do cuts to the federal budget for education, food stamps, and transportation infrastructure imply that Ryan thinks that the United States should spend less on education, food, and transportation? Another view is that Ryan believes that as the U.S. grows more affluent, a larger share of total expenditures on education, food, and transportation infrastructure should be paid for by some combination of the private sector and state and local governments drawing on their own resources. As a safety net program, the cost of food stamps varies with the business cycle. Our sense of what constitutes poverty evolves over time as we grow richer. But it seems plausible that if we do manage to increase economic growth and household income growth — Ryan’s stated goal — that we’d have less need of food stamps over time.

This is a frustrating retort to Klein’s criticism. Salam begins with a pretty by-the-book explanation of how choosing to strip programs to help the poor isn’t necessarily evidence of indifference or hostility to the poor. Yes, Ryan may be promoting the taking-away — but because he does not absolutely proscribe someone else picking up the slack. Curiously, Salam seems to think this is enough from which to argue that we can’t draw our conclusions as to how Ryan feels about social welfare policy. I don’t want to give everyone a free pony, but if someone else does, that’s fine with me. I am therefore not anti-free-pony policy.

Next there’s the business about the inherently relative nature of poverty, an argument I’ve seen often from conservatives and one that never stops striking me as a rather glib non sequitur. And then we have the rising-tide-lifts-all-boats argument, one whose breezy restatement puzzles me, coming, as it does, on the heels of a 30-year experiment that’s resulted in supreme inequality and the financial mess Ryan deigns to fix. I know Salam’s heard this all before and is familiar with this line of criticism’s contours; I don’t understand why he writes as if he hasn’t and is not.

Problematic as it may be, however, the National Review post has much more to say in its favor than Salam’s Daily op-ed, published a few days later.

Obviously, there are inherent limitations when writing an op-ed for a popular audience. And although Salam is not a writer that editors turn to when they need a shot of bomb-throwing capital-O opinion, he still needs to express a clear point-of-view in his column. Doing that within the context of a debate on fiscal matters — and with limited space — is going to result in some unavoidable oversimplification. But the column Salam wrote on Obama-Ryan is not bad because it drains the conflict of its nuance and particulars. It’s bad because it presents its audience with a woefully incomplete, incorrect picture of what the debate’s even about.

Here’s the basic conceit of the piece: Obama calls the Ryan plan radical, but it’s not — in fact, it’s quite similar to Obama’s own. Salam makes the point by focusing on how the respective pols propose to handle the rising costs of Medicare:

To return to Medicare for a moment, Obama aims to achieve this goal by empowering the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel of experts on medical care, to devise reforms that would be imposed on medical providers. Ryan’s approach is to empower Medicare beneficiaries to choose insurance plans, public or private, that best meet their needs, with the understanding that most will choose cost-effective plans that offer quality care.

It’s not obvious that one of these approaches is more “radical” than the other. Central planning and market competition both have a long pedigree in American life.

The problem? The problem is that, however much the President may claim to disagree with how Ryan wants to “reform” Medicare (significantly, Obama implemented the controversial “end Medicare as-we-know-it” talking point), the thrust of his speech’s criticism was overwhelmingly about Ryan’s tax cuts and how he proposed to pay for them. It was the latest, most pugnacious entry in a growing catalog of speeches from the President intended to frame the election as a referendum on inequality. In this context, the consequences of Ryan’s plans for Medicare matter; but it wasn’t a speech about any one program or about policy levers.

For Salam to imply that what Obama’s calling radical is “market competition” is very strange, and if he had a more checkered past with truth, I’d be inclined to call it a sleight of hand. My hope, though, is that Salam is merely one of Ryan’s many media victims — a long and seemingly ever-increasing list of elite pundits willing to embarrass themselves (for reasons beyond my abilities to divine) in their defense of the Wisconsin Objectivist. With any luck, Ryan won’t get the chance to add his proposed 14-27 million more notches to his belt.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
Share

49 thoughts on “Paul Ryan Strikes Again: The Reihan Salam Edition

  1. The major error here is calling Salam a “right-wing pundit”. He isn’t. He’s a Republican operative, and that turns out to be very different. A brilliant mind dedicated to spreading conservative ideas might be wrong, but it would maintain the capacity to surprise or enlighten. A brilliant mind dedicated to defending and promoting the positions of a political party without any reference to their inherent merit is plainly evil.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  2. I don’t find that to be the case with Salam.

    When I’ve read his blog or seen him appear on Chris Hayes’ show he certainly aligns himself politically with policy thinkers on the right, but at the same time doesn’t ALWAYS craft his position to fit the current Republican talking point.

    There are a handful of issues on which it’s clear he’s following the data in good faith, not his party, as demonstrated by the fact that he ends up disagreeing with them in those instances.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  3. It amazes me that a man can be considered a fiscal conservative when he champions tax cuts for the wealthy in a country where 1) the wealthy have seen their taxes cut substantially already, 2) there is serious and rising inequality and 3) the national debt is at or approaching 100% of GDP.  That’s certainly radical, but more to the point, it’s overwhelmingly irresponsible.  The Democrats are willing to tackle both taxes and spending (spending across-the-board, not just civilian spending) to balance the budget; meanwhile, the Republicans claim it’s a “serious” proposal to present a budget that decreases taxes and increases military spending.  It’s not.  It’s fantasy.

    Reihan does seem, in my estimation, to be a lot more civil than your average right-wing pundit, but that doesn’t make his arguments any better.  The one about cutting social spending not actually hurting the poor because states can, if they so choose, correspondingly raise their spending, is manifestly disingenuous, unless you’re proposing to give transfers to the states for such spending.  And the hope of economic improvement bringing poverty reduction in the future doesn’t warrant slashing social spending now; you’d have to actually show that poverty is decreasing, and for reasons that are not linked to social spending, in order to justify that, not just say “it’s okay because we hope things will get better”.

      Quote  Link

    Report

      • It’s basically the Canadian system – the BNA act gave the federal government extensive taxation powers, while responsibilities that were given to the provinces (health and education, to name two) got a lot more expensive than would have been expected circa 1867.  So the feds transfer large amounts of money to the provinces so the provinces can fulfill their responsibilites.  About 20% of the total federal budget gets sent to the provinces, most of it for health, education, and social programs (which shows it’s good to have some general specifications on use).  It might work badly in the States, but it’s not a disaster here.

          Quote  Link

        Report

        • “It might work badly in the States, but it’s not a disaster here.”

          The problem that Elias refers to, and the problem with state/federal sharing of responsibilities and funding on social programs more generally, is how things work in recessions (caveat: I was a state budget analyst for three years, I tend to think in terms of the cash flows).  TANF, the current version of federal “welfare” funding, is a fixed-size block grant.  When the economy plunges, so do state revenues, at the same time that there are more people demanding assistance of various sorts.  Same thing generally happens in Medicaid, although instead of a fixed-size grant, it’s a fixed-size percentage of the costs that are picked up by the feds (during the recent recession, the feds did temporarily pick up a larger share).  State operating budgets are, with only one exception that I know of, required to be balanced every year.  State and local governments have reached the political limits on their ability to raise revenue, in a pretty narrow range around 10% of state GDP.  This combination — revenue limits, balanced budget requirements, and counter-cyclical spending programs such as Medicaid — is a disaster for state budgets during recessions.  The faster-than-GDP growth of big programs like Medicaid and education will be a long-term budget disaster for the states, even outside of recessions.  It is not surprising that during the last decade, several states have looked seriously at the consequences of withdrawing from the Medicaid program.

          For me, the real surprising line in the Salam quotes is: “Another view is that Ryan believes that as the U.S. grows more affluent, a larger share of total expenditures on education, food, and transportation infrastructure should be paid for by some combination of the private sector and state and local governments drawing on their own resources.”  Surprising because the place where the demand that states pay their own way would hit hardest is in the red states of the Deep South that form the regional core of today’s Republican Party.  Medicaid is by far the largest assistance program for the poor (in terms of budget), and in those Deep South states the federal government picks up a much larger share of the costs.  There’s no way that a Mississippi or a Kentucky comes up with the revenue to fill the gap if the federal government reduced its share to the same 50% that it picks up in New Jersey, Illinois, Colorado, or California.  The only state where I’ve looked at the dollar amounts involved is Texas; if the feds picked up only 50% of Texas’ costs, Texas would have to come up with about another billion dollars per year to plug the hole.

          It appears to me that the National Republican Party in general, and the Congressional Republicans in particular, have become isolated from their states.  A Congressional Republican can say, “Cut Medicaid spending by 10%” and doesn’t have to worry about the details.  It’s up to the Republicans in the legislatures in those red states to determine how to implement that cut.  Congress doesn’t worry about whether to cut nursing homes, prenatal care for poor pregnant women, or care for those with serious developmental disabilities; the state legislators are the ones whose phones ring non-stop when they propose making cuts to any of those areas.  A Congressional Republican can say (or a conservative pundit can interpret that Congressional Republican as saying) that states will have to do more on their own.  But I really wonder if the Congressional Republican realizes that there’s a good chance their state receives a disproportionate share of the federal assistance, and how hard their state will be hit.

            Quote  Link

          Report

          • Excellent comment, MC.

            But I really wonder if the Congressional Republican realizes that there’s a good chance their state receives a disproportionate share of the federal assistance, and how hard their state will be hit.

            I wonder about that too. I’m not sure the answer reflects well on them either way. I also wonder to what degree the relevant constituencies understand that they’re the beneficiaries of federal largess, and to what degree they’ve been (mistakenly?) led to believe they’ll be insulated from the squeeze if policies like the Ryan Plan are ever implemented.

              Quote  Link

            Report

    • its not just we hope things will get better. Its that cutting all these taxes will trigger a massive jump in growth rate which will eventually benefit the worst off. I haven’t read Paul Ryan’s plan, but Salam characterises it as a defined contribution scheme. If that is the case, then it would not be unreasonable to expect greater improvements to the well-being of the worst off with less spending. I don’t know how themargins exactly are in the US, but if the current incentives are sufficiently bad, such a radical change to the incentive structure can work wonders. There is a part of me, however, that wonders about whether people will adjust if the change is too sudden.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • It sounds to me like he’s proposing a market solution for addressing many of the complaints about Medicare Part D.
        Personally, I advocate supplemental insurance and a very, very restricted and basic form of health insurance at the national level. I would like to see a cap of $2000 per year on prescription coverage per person.
        We need to do something to address the increase in the rate of costs for health care spending.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • its not just we hope things will get better. Its that cutting all these taxes will trigger a massive jump in growth rate which will eventually benefit the worst off. 

        Yes, but that’s not based on actual data.  Cutting taxes for the rich doesn’t benefit the worse-off, or increase revenues – refer to the last 30 years of US history.  Nor does it necessarily increase growth.  Conversely, Clinton raised taxes and his period in office saw great growth.  So it really does just boil down to “we hope things will get better if we do this”.  And no budget is going to immediately trigger sharp changes in growth – even the conservative position generally holds that fiscal policy is a slow and blunt instrument for growth and monetary policy works a lot faster.

          Quote  Link

        Report

        • Yes, but that’s not based on actual data… So it really does just boil down to “we hope things will get better if we do this”.

          No it doesn’t. Let us supposed that you are right. They’ve got the economics wrong.(at least at the marigns that actually obtain in the US. The marginal tax increase, everything else being equal hurts the worst off. While the marginal dollar added to social outlays to the poor benefits the worst off. The task is to stop at the point where increasing the tax further causes more harm than the concommitant increase in social outlays. ) All that means is that one of their arguments is faulty because it relies on bad/ no data. “We hope things will get better” mischaracterises the nature of their argument. Rather, they are making the quite different argument that they are on one side of the curve rather than the other.

            Quote  Link

          Report

          • Ryan’s making an ideological argument that is not supported by data — and one that he doesn’t especially try to support with data. That’s Katherine’s point. Ryan makes ideological, value-based arguments but ineptly tries to disguise them with pseudo technocratic language — that’s the problem with his pitch, and it’s why he’s a dishonest actor. Quibbling over whether or not this dogmatism is equivalent to “hoping” things get better is a distraction.

              Quote  Link

            Report

    • It’s not quite as simple as that.
      I began working in Illinois just in time to see the state income tax rate go up from 3% to 5%. The bulk of that went to maintain social spending. There are things that I enjoy, such as the rail subsidies, which is why I chose to live where I am.
      Neighboring Missouri (think St. Louis) has a tax rate of 6%, after the 3000 non-taxable, and the 3% rate on the first 6000 of taxable income. In Illinois, it’s a lot more straight-forward; if they say “5%,” they pretty much mean “5%.”
      So, yes, states can and do adjust their tax rates to accommodate prevailing conditions.
      Food stamps and unemployment compensation are determined by the states; both the amount and the requirements. For example, in Missouri, a person is eligible to receive food stamps for either 6 months or a year, and can only be eligible three times within their lifetime. Milwaukee has historically gained an influx of residents from Chicago for purposes of claiming higher benefits.
      Economic conditions vary greatly from one state to another, and even within the state. It’s cheaper to live in Mt. Vernon than Chicago, and it’s cheaper to live in El Campo than Houston– any of which would be cheaper to live than in most places in New York, New Jersey, or California.
      Taxation is a tricky issue in itself. In New Hampshire, there is no state income tax, but the property taxes are outrageous. In Corpus Christi, a garage is considered to be a part of the dwelling, and is taxed as such, and so you see a lot of carports there.
      The idea of increased taxation at the state level while decreasing at the national level is not new.
      I don’t care to advocate any specific position; I just want to point out that the idea is not unworkable, and that there are a variety of methods for achieving the same aims.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • So, yes, states can and do adjust their tax rates to accommodate prevailing conditions.

        Never said they didn’t, just that there’s no guarantee, not even an implicit one, that cutting federal social spending will lead the states to make up the slack or to increase taxes.  Some might decide to, some might decide not to.  State tax systems are already regressive, in contrast to the federal ones, so it’s extremely unlikely that just leaving things up to the states would increase the well-being of the poor.

        You can’t just assume things are going to work out all right.  That’s wishful thinking, not fiscal policy.

         

          Quote  Link

        Report

  4. Meanwhile, the “Obama Budget” was voted down by the House 414-0.  It’s said in politics you can’t beat something with nothing, but it appears President Obama is going to give it a whack.

     

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • In fairness Tom there’s no surprise politically that Obama has no budget. It’s filibustered if it’s presented in the Senate and voted down in the House; unanimously of course, no one wants to vote for a failed budget (then you get blamed for the bad stuff in it AND tained by your association with failed legislation).

      That’s not to say Obama’s been particularily couragous on the budget front. His budgets, as he proposes them, are blatantly geared towards not damaging the economic recovery according to conventional economic thought. He dodges unpleasant cuts and increases and generally is trying to just muddle along. Ryans’ budget is a similar beast; just written to please righties instead of lefties.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • Mr. North, the president is playing Immovable Object, and does nothing but attack.  This isn’t leadership; it’s more a cynical politics to the point of being dereliction of duty.

        The common meme [Obama’s at that*], that Reagan “raised taxes” is a lie.  Tip O’Neill, the Democrat House spearker, did.  Reagan agreed to it to get a deal done, because that’s the president’s job, to lead, not attack.

        And damn right I’m not going to “defend” the Ryan budget, Mr. Gregniak.  That’s falling into BHO’s asymmetrical game, where instead of two competing ideas, there’s only one, and it’s demagogued against.  While the entire Western EuroState world is on the brink of fiscal disaster but is trying to pull back from it, BHO is doubling down.

        *”Ronald Reagan, who, as I recall, is not accused of being a tax-and-spend socialist, understood repeatedly that when the deficit started to get out of control — that for him to make a deal — he would have to propose both spending cuts and tax increases…”

        “He could not get through a Republican primary today.”

        No, the real irony is that a Bill Clinton, a fiscally responsibly sort, would probably get demagogued out of the box by you or someone like you, Mr. President.

          Quote  Link

        Report

        • TVD,

          the president is playing Immovable Object, and does nothing but attack.  This isn’t leadership; it’s more a cynical politics to the point of being dereliction of duty.

          I don’t see how the President can do much besides play immovable object.  The Republicans in Congress have been playing irresistible force, so what are the President’s real options? (Actually, the funny thing is that Obama came into office claiming the role of irresistible force, and Congressional Republicans turned out to be the immovable object.)

          The common meme [Obama’s at that*], that Reagan “raised taxes” is a lie.  Tip O’Neill, the Democrat House spearker, did.  Reagan agreed to it to get a deal done, because that’s the president’s job, to lead, not attack.

          That sounds a lot more like following than leading.  And, by the way, you seem to be ignoring all the compromises Obama made with the Republicans to get budget deals done–why does Reagan get credit and not Obama?

            Quote  Link

          Report

          • It’s the president’s job to pass a budget.  414-0 ain’t getting it done.

            Mebbe the American people will buy his excuses in November, mebbe not.  As Dennis Miller says, Romney should just put a debt clock on the podium and not say a word.  This president is unserious about fiscal sanity, preferring demagoguery like “social darwinism.”  mebbe it’ll work, but I hope not.  We need a serious president.

              Quote  Link

            Report

            • I wish I had the ability to view the world so devoid of context as you are able. It would make things soooooo much simpler. I’d be wrong all the time, without fail, but that’s obviously not an impediment to survival, as you’ve well demonstrated.

                Quote  Link

              Report

            • It’s the president’s job to pass a budget.  414-0 ain’t getting it done.

              I don’t understand this. First of all, Obama did get a budget passed (as did Reagan), by making compromises (as did Reagan).  So what’s the difference there?  Is the problem that Reagan got more Democratic votes than Obama got Republican votes? If so, how do we know that’s the president’s fault and not the other party that’s being recalcitrant? (Remember, Reagan had conservative southern Dems to work with, and the GOP as a whole has moved rightward since the ’80s.)

              Second, what’s with the 414-0 business? First, The FY2011 budget passed 260-167 in the House and 81-19 in the Senate.  Second, there are only 295 Democrats in Congress out of 535 total legislators, so 414 would mean Obama was getting a deal with over 100 Republicans signing on. So clearly you can’t be talking about winning wtih just Dem votes.  I just don’t get what you’re saying.

              As to the debt clock issue, I agree Obama is not serious about it, but the majority of Republicans have not shown they’re serious about it, either, since they place the Bush tax cuts above a balanced budget.  So why do you focus all your criticism on Obama?

              As I’ve said previously, TVD, while you’ve always been conservative, I’ve never seen you play such a Team Red/Team blue game before.  This is a really recent innovation in your writing, and you haven’t really clarified your reasons on your virulent anti-Obamaism yet.  Is it all a consequence of the Catholic hospitals/insurance thing, or is there more to it than that?

                Quote  Link

              Report

              • Republicans got the House to vote on Obama’s 2013 budget, knowing that Democrats would have to vote “no” as they were in the process of negotiating their own version of it. It was a charade, and I’m sure Tom knows this. The Democrats have their own version now, but this is not something Tom wants to talk about. Tom is doing that 99 thing again, but it’s so obvious this time that I don’t think it needs to be pointed out.

                  Quote  Link

                Report

              • James, the Dem Senate hasn’t passed a budget in 1000+ days.  Help me out on the facts end, anyway.  i have my hands full enough without remidiating every fact.  And yes, the “Obama Budget” came up for a vote recently and the Dems refused to vote for it too.  414-0 was the final total.

                [My googling skills seem to fail me.  I cannot found the 414-0 in the NYT, the WaPo or anywhere except the AP (fortunately).  Perhaps it slipped in between the cracks of the reputable sources gentlepersons of the left frequent.

                And yes, I appreciate you’re self-described as a non-lefty.  And I appreciate you giving me credit for not being a blatant Team Red guy in discussion.  So it’s like this, and I’ve been contemplating this reply as I was out and about:

                You don’t have to be on the same team to admit the other guy’s good.  I didn’t vote for him, but I wasn’t crestfallen when Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole.  I wasn’t terribly sad when he beat Bush41 [I meself had gone for Dukakis in ’88].

                I can’t say that about Barack Obama.  There’s not a presidential bone in his body, nor a non-political one.  When Bill Clinton talked shit, the beauty of it is that he didn’t mean it.  He knew it, we knew it.

                But when Barack Obama talks shit, he believes it.  And so do his fans.  He has us at each other’s throats.

                Paul Ryan doesn’t have us at each other’s throats.  Nor John Boehner.  Not even Harry Reid has us at each other’s throats.  And I’ve supported Mitt Romney from the first because he doesn’t either.

                From my side of the aisle, the Obama presidency has been a nightmare.  Not for the politics: the election of 2010 put a stop to BHO’s agenda.  It’s been a nightmare because I oppose democracy, that is to say, I oppose majoritarianism, where 51% rule the other 49.  That’s how it’s been from Day One with this guy.  I would oppose a President Santorum for the same reason: even if he were to win [impossible], his agenda would still only have the barest of majorities in support.

                That is not what any of us signed up for, as citizens by birth or naturalization.  We’re signed up for a constitutional republic.  When President Obama explicitly circumvents Congress, when he picks a fight with the Supreme Court [twice now], this is not what I want from a president, and neither should any of us.

                And no, James, it’s not the Catholic/contraception thing, exactly, although it’s emblematic: this guy provokes constitutional crises with stunning regularity.  For example, circumventing Congress on the Libya thing wasn’t right.  The recess appointments.

                http://www.boston.com/news/politics/articles/2011/12/31/in_2012_obama_to_press_ahead_without_congress/

                I don’t want this.

                  Quote  Link

                Report

                • I find it difficult to take a post like this seriously. It’s Obama that’s divisive? Not the GOP that has, from day one acted as if they were a parliamentary minority party? My guess is honestly if this were the 90s you’d be calling for Clinton’s impeachment.

                    Quote  Link

                  Report

                  • In twenty years, TVD or some version of him will be on some other site, saying, “I wasn’t crestfallen when Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney. But, the difference is, Obama didn’t believe what he was saying. Julie Sanchez-Chu does.”

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

                • Tom,

                  I’m no fan of Obama, either, and I agree with you that he believes his own talk too much.  I get the sense that he inhales a scent of roses and honeysuckle when he takes a shit. I despise the fact that each time I hear him talk I get the sense he’s talking down to all of us in an offensively paternalistic tone.

                  But I think it’s far too much of a stretch to say he’s the ultra divisive one, and nobody on the other side. I mean, I seriously just can’t fathom that claim, and I honestly think you’ve lost all sense of proportion when it comes to Obama.

                    Quote  Link

                  Report

        • The common meme [Obama’s at that*], that Reagan “raised taxes” is a lie. Tip O’Neill, the Democrat House spearker, did. Reagan agreed to it to get a deal done, because that’s the president’s job, to lead, not attack.

          If he didn’t want to raise taxes but let it happen anyway because the House wanted it, where’d the leading come into play? President can veto, after all.

          (This isn’t to say I have a dog in the current budget fight. It’s all nonsense vs nonsense to me.)

            Quote  Link

          Report

          • Getting the budget passed was leadership.  And brinksmanship is fine, don’t get me wrong: Clinton beat Gingrich on the optics of the government shutdown, but in the end, he had to come to poppa.

              Quote  Link

            Report

  5. Meanwhile Geithner admits to the senate’s budget comm, that Barry’s budget is not sustainable but they just can’t cut anything. And these folks have the nerve to bash Ryan?

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • Sure they do.   Paul Ryan’s just a silly man.   Full of bravado and fine talk but his entire premise rests on closing loopholes which shall never, ever be closed, not while the Sacred Cow Ranch won’t put any of those heifers on the truck to market.   See Tom’s comment at 11 for why this is so:  you can’t beat something with nothing.

        Quote  Link

      Report

  6. Reihan Salam is, best as I can tell, the smartest right-wing pundit of his generation.

    First, Cheney’s heart transplant and now this.  So many straight lines, so little time.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  7. it’s tricky to turn a radical wealth distribution plan into “something that benefits everyone”.  this is why supporters of the zombie eyed granny starver’s (charles pierce cracks me up) brave, serious and bold “budget” have to ascribe views to ryan that he doesn’t hold.  like when jimbo stewart at NY Times says that ryan’s plan (lowering top rates to 25 and 10 percent) “could” end up increasing taxes on the wealthy because it is unclear what would happen in ryan’s plan to the capital gains rate.  i understand how jimbo could get confused as ryan’s plan omits a lot of important details.  however, if you look at the god damned roadmap ryan put out it says, “Promotes saving by eliminating taxes on interest, capital gains, and dividends; also eliminates the death tax.”

    but as will wilkinson points out, “he’s quite the looker” so we should prolly ignore this.

      Quote  Link

    Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *