At Least It’s A Plan To Be Criticized
In today’s New York Times, Krugman criticizes the Ryan plan for not changing “one iota in response to the economic failures of the Bush years.” His wider point is to lambast Republicans for feigning horror at the Democrat’s proposed cuts in Medicare while wanting to cut the program even more… or even dismantle it altogether.
The bottom line, then, is that the crusade against health reform has relied, crucially, on utter hypocrisy: Republicans who hate Medicare, tried to slash Medicare in the past, and still aim to dismantle the program over time, have been scoring political points by denouncing proposals for modest cost savings — savings that are substantially smaller than the spending cuts buried in their own proposals.
I don’t think Ryan’s plan is as insane in the face of our current economic reality as Krugman does, but their are probably aspects which aren’t ideal or maybe even politically motivated (shock!). I’m also not sure this plan is as mainstream within the Republican party as he suggests. The Hill reports:
At his weekly news conference, Boehner stressed that Ryan’s budget is not the party’s proposal. His spokesman repeated that point on Friday, while expressing disappointment with Democratic attempts to make political hay out of criticizing the proposal.
“This is sad and pathetic,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. “At a time when Washington Democrats control the House, Senate and the White House, rather than working on the problems of the American people, they’re holding blogger calls and conference calls to attack a bill introduced by one member of the minority party.” (my emphasis)
Furthermore, Rep. Ryan himself wasn’t screaming about “death panels” and Democratic cuts in the entitlement. Are many of the Republicans in the legislature hypocrites as Krugman claims? Of course. So are many Democrats. But the important thing is that some Republicans like Ryan are starting to offer actual proposals which people like Krugman can (and should) criticize. Differences in ideology are not bad for democracy; they strengthen it. Cynical obstructionism without offering real alternatives are the danger. Too many Republicans are still hypocrites and phonies; I’m glad we have Ryan’s plan to criticize – it’s a step forward.