Can You Deserve Respect But Be Wrong?
I think Kevin Drum and Matthew Yglesias are a bit too hard on Paul Ryan praisers (people like me). They basically argue against the efficacy of his policies – fair enough and keep it up. I know it’s a low bar but at least Ryan is making actual proposals to criticize. I’m not kidding when I say I’m thrilled a Republican is actually doing this. The modern Republican party and its supporters are so devoid of substance that being able to engage them on policy would help the country. Our political system is set up in such a way that it can’t function unless legislators are willing to compromise on policy disagreements. If the minority party doesn’t have any policies and just opposes everything the majority does the legislature becomes paralyzed. Do Drum and Yglesias really think that if we replaced all the Michele Bachmanns with Paul Ryans we wouldn’t be better off? It’s sad but it’s the best we can hope for right now.
[Update: 4 Aug] Clive Crook weighs in.
Ryan is a good thing, and his Roadmap is very interesting. He is grappling with specific proposals, and his plan for long-term entitlement reform deserves a serious look. Note, though, that on plausible assumptions, it is not a deficit-reducing proposal: revenues would fall even more than spending.
More to the point, the party is not backing Ryan’s proposals. If conservatives who say, “Don’t raise taxes, cut spending,” were willing to contemplate Ryan’s approach to entitlement reform, well and good. Few are. The party as a whole is scared of it. Republicans in Congress understand how difficult it would be to get the country behind it. (If George Bush’s plan for Social Security privatisation, timid by comparison, got shot down, what hope is there for Ryan’s ideas?) Right now the party’s position is to reject every meaningful spending cut and any and all tax increases. That is not fiscal responsibility. It is complete nonsense.