Monday, August 20, 2012

Ryan plan

Economist Paul Krugman takes Paul Ryan's budget plan to task in a recent NYT article. Krugman looks at the numbers, and determines that the Ryan plan is completely unfeasible and will do nothing to reduce the deficit and debt, but will actually cause it to balloon even further. All this, while at the same time programs for the poor are slashed and the wealthy are given larger tax cuts.

We've heard this before, but Krugman has a way of cutting through the talking points and looking at the hard numbers. He takes nothing for granted, makes no assertions about the ramifications of these policies, just goes by the numbers. That alone doesn't add up.

Republicans have been attacking Obama for draining $700 Billion or so out of Medicare to fund Obamacare. What they neglect to mention is that this money is from reimbursement programs and so on, which means it was not money that went to recipients of the program. Another interesting fact is that this same money is cut in Ryan's budget plan but, unlike the President using that money in a different health care program, Ryan's budget would use that money to drive more tax cuts for the wealthy. In other words, it would not be used to reduce the deficit or debt, but to relieve the tax burden of the wealthy. Interesting.

So, how can Republicans complain about Obama's Medicare "cuts" while at the same time praising Ryan's budget plan? The answer: not easily. It requires an argument over semantics, which is the only point that can be contested to differentiate these two programs. By calling Ryan's budget proposal a voucher program, Democrats are using a particular word to create fear about his policies. Republicans are trying to change that word into something else or, at the very least, kick up dirt over the Democrats calling it a voucher program. Instead, Republicans are trying to muddy the waters with long, complex explanations about how it's not a voucher program when Ryan has said that's what it is. Rather than argue the merits of the plan, the Republicans are taking a stand on what to call it. If you need more indication that Republicans are clutching at straws over this, look no further.

UPDATE: Even the folks who watch and read Fox News prefer a voucher program as the way to fix Medicare. If that's the case, it would appear that this argument over the validity of the word "voucher" to describe Ryan's plan is doubly ridiculous for the GOP, since their own supporters are in favor of a voucher program...

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