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Paul Ryan cont'd

ryanpointing.JPG

I do think it's a bit peculiar to discuss Paul Ryan's seriousness about balancing the budget while simply setting the question of whether his claims to have balanced the budget are valid. But I'm also not sure that the case is as open-and-shut as some have concluded. So let's try to go through this.

Here's the issue, as I understand it: When Ryan and his policy team created the Roadmap, they started with a revenue target in mind. That revenue target was slightly north of 19 percent of GDP. They went to the Joint Committee on Taxation to get some help developing a tax plan that would hit their target, but because the Roadmap needs estimates far beyond the 10-year budget window, JCT turned them down. So Ryan and his team went to the Treasury Department, and working with Treasury staff and Treasury models, they developed a plan that hit the target. Then they went to the Congressional Budget Office for their estimate. All of this is pretty standard.

Enter the Tax Policy Center, which has its own tax-simulation model, and which used it to analyze Ryan's plan: It found that the plan only produces revenues at 16 percent of GDP. Ryan's team wasn't convinced that it should believe the Tax Policy Center's model rather than the Treasury Department's model -- and of course it preferred Treasury's number -- but it continued to say that it was committed to assuring revenues held at 19 percent of GDP and, if needed, it would adjust "the specified rates to hit the revenue targets."

So that's the issue: Ryan's team says that Treasury blessed its proposal, and it is not going to rewrite the plan based on the analysis of one think tank (though it's actually two when you count Citizens for Tax Justice [pdf]). Others say that if they want to show they're playing in good faith, they would adjust the revenues to close the hole that TPC found, as TPC is a highly respected outfit and, in the absence of a JCT score, is the most authoritative public estimate. I think Ryan's team should adjust their proposal, but their position doesn't strike me as obviously fraudulent. The Treasury Department is a perfectly serious partner for this sort of thing, and unless they're lying about their involvement, I can see the case for sticking to Treasury's models in the absence of a JCT score.

So far as the Ryan brand goes, I actually find his comments on Glenn Beck's show to be a much clearer moment of bad faith than his road map. You can't go around saying “I’m trying to get the discussion to an adult level," and then head to Beck's house and call progressivism "a cancer" and "a complete affront of the whole idea of this country." If you're going to be an adult, you have to be an adult when that's not what your side wants, too. People whose ideas you've called "a cancer" when it suited you will probably find it difficult to extend you the benefit of the doubt when you assure them that you're playing it straight.

Photo credit: Melina Mara/The Washington Post.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 12, 2010; 4:45 PM ET
 
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Comments

Very good post. Are you going to publicly take your buddy Yglesias to task for his childish and inaccurate attacks on Paul Ryan?

Posted by: ab_13 | August 12, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

LOL Ezra you are a riot. It is a good thing you don't keep your Journolist buddies to such a standard.

Posted by: JackIL08 | August 12, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Can I ask why Ryan didn't go ahead and get the score for the 10 year window from JCT on top of any other scores he got?

Posted by: nylund | August 12, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Bad faith when Krugman called Ryan a 'flimflam man' and that he was a fraud?

-In Defense of Congressman Paul Ryan

http://taxvox.taxpolicycenter.org/blog/_archives/2010/8/6/4598007.html

Krugman alleges fraud because CBO did not score the revenue side of the Congressman’s plan. (This is correct as the Joint Committee on Taxation is responsible for providing the official revenue score of tax legislation.) Instead, CBO assumed that total federal tax revenues will be equal to “those under CBO’s alternative fiscal scenario … until they reach 19 percent of gross domestic product in 2030, and to remain at that share of GDP thereafter.” Contrary to Krugman’s claims, this assumption is not unjustified. Ryan has explicitly stated that he is willing to work with the Treasury department to adjust the rates on his tax reform plan to “maintain approximately our historic levels of revenue as a share of GDP.” Since 1980 the federal tax revenue has been about 18 percent of GDP.

Posted by: marteen | August 12, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

I trust it should be "setting aside" not "setting" at the top.

As for the rest, apparently Ezra thinks Ryan is less than "obviously fradulent" (as long as his people are quote "not lying" !!!! Make than another !) but is sometimes acting in "bad faith."

Shall we hear from Treasury what assumptions they were asked to make?

Posted by: Hopeful9 | August 12, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Do not continue to commit the error of defending your previous support of the Roadmap. That you were flimflammed should instead compel you to reexamine the reasons that you were, i.e. once burned twice shy.
You seem to me in this and other issues to be tending toward the stupid "on the other hand"-ism so ubiquitous in current commentary. You yourself have previously noted it in others. Will you recognize it in yourself?

Posted by: JF11 | August 12, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

What Nylund asked. ("Can I ask why Ryan didn't go ahead and get the score for the 10 year window from JCT on top of any other scores he got?")

Second question: How do we know that "Ryan and his team went to the Treasury Department, and working with Treasury staff and Treasury models, they developed a plan that hit the target?" Do we know that's true because Ryan and his staff said it?

I'm not saying it isn't true. But why just assume that it is?

Posted by: bobsomerby | August 12, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

"Obviously fraudulent"... Slate's hiring standard for Dave Weigel.

Also the Tax Policy Center's analysis is a completely static analysis, and since the Roadmap eliminates capital gains taxes and drastically changes the corporate income tax, Ryan would argue economic growth will benefit compared to the current policy regime.

I'm sure Matt Yglesias has realized this in between bags three and four of Fritos on Tuesday.

Posted by: cdosquared5 | August 12, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I don't know. It strikes me that there is still a lot of justice in Krugman's description of this as "flim-flam". Think about the promise "if needed, it would adjust the specified rates to hit the revenue targets." I guess what that means is that you reduce taxes to the rates Ryan proposes, then if revenue is below 19%, you raise rates again. Now tell me, who thinks that Republicans are actually going to consent to raise taxes?

Posted by: Leon7 | August 12, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

"Can I ask why Ryan didn't go ahead and get the score for the 10 year window from JCT on top of any other scores he got?"

Nylund - it's in Ezra's comments:

"They went to the Joint Committee on Taxation to get some help developing a tax plan that would hit their target, but because the Roadmap needs estimates far beyond the 10-year budget window, JCT turned them down."

"Bad faith when Krugman called Ryan a 'flimflam man' and that he was a fraud?"

I think this raises and important point.

The Roadmap has been out for years. How many progressives have approached him to work with him on this issue? How many have simply tried to drag him through the mud? Where's the progressive Roadmap?

Ryan might have reasonably concluded that progressives aren't interested in fixing the long-term problems of the country and would rather score political points attacking him. I can understand why he might be throwing his hands up and writing off the progressives.

Posted by: justin84 | August 12, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

If Ryan's roadmap is so wonderful and accurate and offered in good faith as a truly viable possibility -- why hasn't the GOP fully embraced it and endorsed it?

Posted by: cmccauley60 | August 12, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Ryan is a fraud. Now you righties are running around trying to shoot holes in everyone who is pointing it out and pointing out why he's a fraud.

Typical.

Posted by: kindness1 | August 12, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Amazing. Ryan's plan is based on killing medicare and raising taxes on the middle and lower class in order to pass a huge tax cut for the rich and you wonder if we should treat him as a serious policy thinker?

You really are a part of Washington now, Congratulations!

Posted by: endaround | August 12, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Revenues of 19% of GDP shouldnt be a problem. We got there in 1997 and came pretty close in 2006/2007.

The problem is spending of higher than 20% of GDP. Which is, of course, what is projected for the next decade.

Posted by: krazen1211 | August 12, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

'Amazing. Ryan's plan is based on killing medicare and raising taxes on the middle and lower class in order to pass a huge tax cut for the rich and you wonder if we should treat him as a serious policy thinker?

You really are a part of Washington now, Congratulations!'

I don't see anyone else talking about spending reductions.

Posted by: krazen1211 | August 12, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

marteen: "Bad faith when Krugman called Ryan a 'flimflam man' and that he was a fraud?"

Part of Krugman's critique was that much of Ryan's proposal rests on spending cuts that have little to no political hope of ever coming to pass. Whether that's a flimflam or just an unrealistic expectation is arguable.

Posted by: dasimon | August 12, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

I also can't wait until the deficit commission comes out with a proposal to raise the retirement age / change benefits indexation for Social Security, and the Left starts howling about how there is plenty of money in the Trust Fund, this is completely unnecessary, we can just raise taxes on the rich, etc.

I'm pretty confident Ezra will bash the Left then since it will be after the election. But there is going to be a real score card on the intellectual integrity front being kept.

Posted by: cdosquared5 | August 12, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

'I don't know. It strikes me that there is still a lot of justice in Krugman's description of this as "flim-flam". Think about the promise "if needed, it would adjust the specified rates to hit the revenue targets." I guess what that means is that you reduce taxes to the rates Ryan proposes, then if revenue is below 19%, you raise rates again. Now tell me, who thinks that Republicans are actually going to consent to raise taxes?'

Who things Democrats are going to enact a VAT? Because that's Krugman's 'solution', even if it doesn't actually solve the problem.

"So America has a long-run budget problem. Dealing with this problem will require, first and foremost, a real effort to bring health costs under control"


Does Krugman suggest how this will be done? Not really.

Posted by: krazen1211 | August 12, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

That is fine Ezra. May be it is your job to lament about that. But we know that Ryan is a politician and we commenters do not exactly treat him with any kid glove too.

You know Ezra, it does not matter what Ryan says on Glenn Beck in some sense. What matters is what is his policy. (As others have pointed, Krugman as well criticized him strongly too.)

Coming back to Policy part - why is Treasury Department not taking cognizance of loop holes pointed by TPC? If America's Treasury Department says Ryan plan can bring revenue at 19 of GDP, who are we citizens to reject that? The right thing is to force those 'highly paid' Treasury officers to do the right job and answer questions raised by TPC. I agree it is someone else's estimate but when the whole politics can revolve around this issue, it is stupid to take all these details lightly.

At some point Fed, Treasury and Think Tanks of America need to realize that their job is NOT to provide opinions in 'silos' but with reference to each other's judgments. Because in absence of that American Politicians come to throats of each other and much more damage is done to America than benefits of any single researched policy prescription. We are sick and tired of this cacophony and need to have common understanding. Otherwise as a nation we all are going to burn in the heat of these partisan conflicts.

Posted by: umesh409 | August 12, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

It's been a while since this roadmap came out and the serious analysis was done. Is this also the plan where Rep. Ryan was going to give people two tax rates to choose from and his revenue assumptions assumed that people would choose the higher rate and therefore his revenue values were higher? Or was that a different scam by Representative Ryan?

Posted by: zattarra | August 12, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

"If Ryan's roadmap is so wonderful and accurate and offered in good faith as a truly viable possibility -- why hasn't the GOP fully embraced it and endorsed it?"

Because most GOP politicians are cowards as the plan slashes entitlement spending and Americans like entitlements. Right now, Americans still are in the "I want it but don't want to pay for it" mood.

Why haven't the Democrats proposed roughly doubling everyone's tax bill (the amount estimated by the IMF to close the entitlement gap without cutting spending)? Because the same goodies at twice the price is political poison. The same goes with half the goodies at the same price. But right now we're buying the goodies and putting half the bill on the credit card. At some point, that bill comes due.

Ryan has shown roughly what needs to be done on the spending side - the Democrats should either tweak his proposal or come out with a Roadmap of their own.

Posted by: justin84 | August 12, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

"Ryan has shown roughly what needs to be done on the spending side - the Democrats should either tweak his proposal or come out with a Roadmap of their own."

If I am not mistaken, that is pretty much the whole idea behind Obama's deficit commission.

Posted by: Patrick_M | August 12, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the Obama deficit commission was the first to call the progressive spending agenda a cancer: Ryan simply repeated it.

Posted by: rmgregory | August 12, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

"Actually, the Obama deficit commission was the first to call the progressive spending agenda a cancer: Ryan simply repeated it."

rmgregory,

...and...so what, exactly?

Again, there is a Democratic sitting President who has empaneled a bipartisan commission to craft a long term strategy to balance the budget. The commission includes Paul Ryan as a member.

So does that not cover justin84's admonition that "the Democrats should either tweak [Ryan's] proposal or come out with a Roadmap of their own" - or am I missing something?

Posted by: Patrick_M | August 12, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I see ... so it's OK for the GOP to be cowardly so long as you can claim that the Dems are cowards too?

Is that the rubber/glue position or the anything you can do I can do argument.

In any event, even assuming Ryan's numbers are not gobbledygook, his plan eliminates Medicare, privatizes social security, raises taxes on everyone except the rich and still does not balance the budget in ten years.

That's quite a plan.

Posted by: cmccauley60 | August 12, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Ryan doesn't cut the deficit below the current policy baseline for well over a decade. Obama's budget, on the other hand, would reduce the deficit by about a trillion dollars over the next decade compared to current policy. You can argue that it's not enough, but it's better than Ryan does.

The comparative benefit of the Ryan budget is that it imposes draconian cuts to Social Security and Medicare in the distant future, which would bring the budget into balance by 2063. But of course Ryan's conservative fans have repeatedly expressed intense skepticism that the Medicare cuts in Obama's health care plan will actually happen. Never mind that, unlike Ryan's entitlement savings, Obama's budget savings are vastly more modest and have been negotiated with the relevant stakeholders.

Conservatives have sneered at the idea that Obama could compel cuts at such far-off dates at 2018. (Continetti: "We don't know what will happen tomorrow. How can we say with any certainty what will happen 11 to 20 years from now?") But they feel totally comfortable with Ryan's plan to slash taxes now, and they assume that future Congresses will feel compelled to abide by his call to reduce the projected size of Medicare by 75% by 2080.

Ryan's overweening skepticism about Obama's promises of modest levels of medium-term sacrifice, combined his certainty about carrying out his own massive ultra-long-term sacrifices, remind me of a recent interview Ezra Klein conducted with Ryan. Klein asked:

Your bill does much more than this bill. But if Congress can't do what it says it's going to do, what's the point in talking about any of this at all? If none of the policies can be implemented, then we're going bankrupt.
Ryan's reply, in its entirety:

I can't disagree with what you just said.
Does Ryan realize that he conceded either that his criticisms of Obama's health care plan are bunk, or that his own plan is bunk?

http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/paul-ryans-dessert-first-budget-plan

Posted by: cmccauley60 | August 12, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Patrick_M: Klein's opinion concludes with the words "People whose ideas you've called 'a cancer' when it suited you will probably find it difficult to extend you the benefit of the doubt when you assure them that you're playing it straight."

In that conclusion, Klein seems to overlook the fact that the Deficit Commision has called "calling current budgetary trends a cancer 'that will destroy the country from within' unless checked by tough action in Washington." The Washington Post's Dan Balz reported the whole statement on July 11, 2010 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/11/AR2010071101956.html).

Are we to ignore all opinions of those who succesfully recognize the progressive cancers of the Roosevelt, Johnson, and Obama regimes? Does ignoring such progressive cancers cure them? Does giving cute names to such progressive cancers make them less virulent?

It's not a partisan sentiment: some Democrats are as critical of the progressive cancers -- such as the PPACA, for example -- as are Republicans. Consider, for example, that former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean recently stated “By the time this thing [the PPACA] goes into effect in 2014, the mandate will be gone, either through the courts, or because it’s unpopular ... You don't need it.” (August 6, 2010)

Posted by: rmgregory | August 12, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

"So does that not cover justin84's admonition that "the Democrats should either tweak [Ryan's] proposal or come out with a Roadmap of their own" - or am I missing something?"

It's slightly different - Paul Ryan went out and developed a plan on his own without any Democrats and has been pitching it for years on his own. Obama gave the task to a bipartisan commission which includes Republicans, the recommendations of which are unknown.

That all said, I recognize that a plan of this nature is more politically risky for a President than a Congressman, and therefore I will give Obama tons of credit if he markets the deficit commission's plan (or a similar plan) as aggressively as Paul Ryan markets his Roadmap.

He gets zero credit if it ends up on the shelf next to Bush's dust covered tax reform commission's report.

"I see ... so it's OK for the GOP to be cowardly so long as you can claim that the Dems are cowards too?"

No, it is not OK. The GOP is no better than the Democratic Party. I hardly think we'd be in better shape if Bush and his Republican Congress were back in power today.

Posted by: justin84 | August 12, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

"Are we to ignore all opinions of those who succesfully recognize the progressive cancers of the Roosevelt, Johnson, and Obama regimes? Does ignoring such progressive cancers cure them? Does giving cute names to such progressive cancers make them less virulent?"

See, this is exactly why this is flim-flim.
If the object was to cut the deficit, the Republican contribution to it would be mentioned and the plan would you know cut the deficit. Instead, the object is to destroy progressives. Talking about the deficit is just another means to that end.

We know of course how much spending would be cut if Ryan wins his argument, since we know what happened the last three or four times his side won. Spending won't be cut at all.

The negotiations that Ryan has in mind is he talks about how bad the Democrats are, and the Democrats agree. Mr. Klein looks forward to that, but I can't imagine why.
I do like the Social Security and Medicare are cancers bumper stickers. Where can I get one?

Posted by: windshouter | August 12, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

rmgregory,

Uh...fine...nice rant about the "progressive cancers" but (again) completely off of the original point, which was:

justin84 says: "the Democrats should either tweak [Ryan's] proposal or come out with a Roadmap of their own"

and I point out that Obama: "has empaneled a bipartisan commission to craft a long term strategy to balance the budget. The commission includes Paul Ryan as a member."

Ergo, the Democrats have already done exactly what justin84 has called for and (by including Ryan in a bipartisan effort) even more.

Posted by: Patrick_M | August 12, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Also, note that "bipartisan" in today's Washington means it's supported by both the far right and the center right. Keynesian stimulus, single-payer health care, and Constitutional civil rights aren't even on the table.

Posted by: stonedone | August 12, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

"It's slightly different - Paul Ryan went out and developed a plan on his own without any Democrats and has been pitching it for years on his own. Obama gave the task to a bipartisan commission which includes Republicans, the recommendations of which are unknown."

You know I always appreciate your thoughtful commentary, but I have to shake my head here, justin84.

You advocated a Democratic "tweak" of Ryan's plan. Obama has gone one better, by putting together a bi-partisan group, in which Ryan himself participates, to "tweak" up a joint solution. What more can you ask for?

Yes, I suppose some Democratic member of the House could have drawn up their own personal "roadmap" years ago, but that was not in your original comment ("the Democrats should either tweak [Ryan's] proposal or come out with a Roadmap of their own").

Frankly, I don't necessarily see that having one individual, or even one party, crafting a "roadmap" is superior to having "group think" with both sides at the table, since the already tiny chances of a Congressional consensus that can stick shrink to zero if it appears that the starting point reflects the ideological purism of one party or the other. If Rep. Barnie Frank or Senator Sherrod Brown crafted a fiscal "roadmap," how far might that go in Republican circles?

Obama's commission is an extreme long shot, but there is a better chance that the result of this approach might at least have some measure of lasting influence on budget policy than any single Congressional member, or single political party, presuming that they can draw the "roadmap" for the nation's budgetary future.

I don't pretend to know whether Ryan is a "flim flam man," or if he is sincere (albeit, like Reagan in my opinion, so often wrong). I do think Ryan's plan has been a useful springboard for debate and in helping to clarify some fundamental philosophical values differences between the parties, so I guess I am closer to Ezra than Krugman on this little flap about Ryan's integrity and whether his ideas deserve continuing attention.

But I also think that Obama is genuinely serious about trying to put together a formula to bring down the defict over the long term. He is getting a lot of heat from progressives for pivoting away from Keynesian growth strategies and moving toward austerity measures, but (as usual) he gets virtually no credit from the partisan elements on the right for the effort. Unfortunately it seemed like your call for a Democratic roadmap, when Obama has one in the works in which Ryan participates, was in line with that more partisan line.

Posted by: Patrick_M | August 12, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

As I understand it from Krugman's column, the plan cuts taxes for the wealthy and raises them on everyone else as well as assuming zero dollar growth in discretionary spending. It also, according to the Times link you posted "dismantles social security and medicare." These alone are signs that it shouldn't be taken seriously. The tax cuts for the wealthy are just nonsensical, while the dismantling of social programs will never pass or would be disastrous if they did. As for freezing discretionary spending, that's such an easy thing to say and such a hard thing to give details on - which Ryan didn't. Is it serious to just assume that's gonna work itself out? As Krugman pointed out, that same spending freeze was used to sell the Bush tax cuts. Did that work out? It's much more serious to assume that massive spending freezes are not gonna happen.

And a difference of 3% of GDP is $440 billion. That's a pretty big discrepancy. I don't know how the Treasury department came up with it's numbers nor how the Tax Policy Center came up with theirs, but someone who is "serious" about fixing the budget doesn't stick with their own numbers because they want to. They make sure they're right.

So we've got a roadmap with radical ideas that disproportionately benefit those who don't need benefits while dismantling the safety net for everyone else who does need help. It asks the government to freeze spending while not specifying who will be forfeiting their funds meaning spending, realistically will not be frozen. And to top it all off, it's not at all clear that this plan does what it aims to do - balance the budget.

I understand that Ryan went through the motions, but it's apparent that the motions are not good enough on this topic. I'll give him credit for coming up with a plan where few others have (is that credit worth anything?), but his plan proposes extreme and what will probably be widely unpopular ideas, has some major parts that have little chance of actually being adopted, and promises something between achieving it's goal achieving very little. If you approached your boss and said, "I propose we do something radical, unpopular, and realistically, unlikely to be approved that will either work or not work," would you expect your boss to take you seriously? Or do you think he might want you to do a little more work before you submit something to him in the future?

Posted by: zperez | August 12, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein, why the kid gloves treatment of Paul Ryan, when as you point out is seemingly incapable of acting consistently and with integrity ("progressivism as cancer")? When he fails to follow through on his commitment to adjust targets after a very limited and incomplete scoring by CBO? When he fails to acknowledge his plan disproportionately benefits the wealthy?

I don't get it. Call this man what he is: an intellectual fraud.

Posted by: Oomingmak | August 13, 2010 12:11 AM | Report abuse

"You advocated a Democratic "tweak" of Ryan's plan. Obama has gone one better, by putting together a bi-partisan group, in which Ryan himself participates, to "tweak" up a joint solution. What more can you ask for?"

Well a tweak or a counter proposal. In general, my point is I'm not impressed by Democrats coming out and calling Paul Ryan a flim-flammer without putting forth a plan of their own or modifying Paul Ryan's Roadmap to smooth out the rough edges.

At this point, I'm still asking for the commission's proposal and for Obama to push Congress to act. The commission means little if he doesn't throw his weight behind it. Obama has a better record than most when it comes to addressing controversial issues, and so I'm cautiously optimistic.

"Frankly, I don't necessarily see that having one individual, or even one party, crafting a "roadmap" is superior to having "group think" with both sides at the table, since the already tiny chances of a Congressional consensus that can stick shrink to zero if it appears that the starting point reflects the ideological purism of one party or the other. If Rep. Barnie Frank or Senator Sherrod Brown crafted a fiscal "roadmap," how far might that go in Republican circles?"

I really can't disagree with this. Again, my concern was that Paul Ryan stuck his neck out on the line and proposed a plan to fix our fiscal problems and smeared as a fraud by people without a plan. If the Democrats were saying "this is an interesting proposal, but we have some reservations about some aspects of your plan - lets iron these differences out" I wouldn't have much of an objection. I'll admit that Obama is effectively doing this via commission and again that's a positive, but Krugman and half of the progressives in the country are calling Ryan a fraud largely because they don't like his solution.

"But I also think that Obama is genuinely serious about trying to put together a formula to bring down the defict over the long term. He is getting a lot of heat from progressives for pivoting away from Keynesian growth strategies and moving toward austerity measures, but (as usual) he gets virtually no credit from the partisan elements on the right for the effort. Unfortunately it seemed like your call for a Democratic roadmap, when Obama has one in the works in which Ryan participates, was in line with that more partisan line."

I agree here. Obama will have a better than even chance of getting my vote again if he takes the commission's recommendations seriously, despite the fact I don't see eye to eye with him on every issue. While I'm being hopefully I'd also like to see him finally end the wars. Anyway, despite my libertarian/liberaltarian leanings, at the end of the day my biggest priority is to avoid a fiscal implosion.

I'm not trying to be partisan (and especially not so on behalf of Republicans). As you know, my preferred reform isn't the Roadmap.

Posted by: justin84 | August 13, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

I guess I should add to my comment why I think this makes Ryan a fraud. Judging from the facts of his plan, he's either incompetent or a fraud. What is the purpose of even coming up with such a plan if it fails on so many levels? Because Ryan is using the guise of a responsible budget to disassemble the government. And that's in line with the conservative platform since Reagan. But coming out and saying "Hey, Medicare and Social Security were bad ideas," isn't going to win you any elections. So instead you say "Liberals are destroying this country by spending too much, but I have a plan to balance the budget." You then create a plan that disassembles Medicare and Social Security. You can't just cut funding outright (too unpopular), so you propose a voucher system that will raise costs making it easier to argue that you need to end these programs in the future. We can tell that the plan is a fraud though, because while the plan is supposed to balance the budget, it doesn't.

You said it yourself in your earlier post - this is the Republican version of rationing: Tax cuts on the rich and a dismantling of social programs for everyone else. But you had to translate that for him. Ryan called it "a balanced budget" and that's what make him a fraud.

Posted by: zperez | August 13, 2010 12:38 AM | Report abuse

"Well a tweak or a counter proposal. In general, my point is I'm not impressed by Democrats coming out and calling Paul Ryan a flim-flammer without putting forth a plan of their own or modifying Paul Ryan's Roadmap to smooth out the rough edges.

At this point, I'm still asking for the commission's proposal and for Obama to push Congress to act. The commission means little if he doesn't throw his weight behind it. Obama has a better record than most when it comes to addressing controversial issues, and so I'm cautiously optimistic."

The proposal of the commission (of which Ryan is a part) is forthcoming. An independent economist (and frequent critic of Obama) coined the phrase "flim-flam man" in connection with Ryan, not the Democrats on the Hill.

Thankfully, we live in country with free speech and we enjoy wide-ranging candid commentary from experts with differing opinions. And (frankly) if I were ever so bold as to be a public figure that suggested a comprehensive "roadmap" for all of my fellow citizens, I would brace for much worse epithets than "flim flam man."

Again, I simply responded to your statement that "the Democrats should either tweak [Ryan's] proposal or come out with a Roadmap of their own" by noting that the exercise already is already in place, with an even better process (unless you prefer each party to issue extreme talking points and to never seriously bargain for mutually acceptable outcomes).

Posted by: Patrick_M | August 13, 2010 2:07 AM | Report abuse

Ryan's plan has the long term averages of 19%. How high does it have to be.If we temporarily raise it to say 25% to pay down the debt that is caused in large part from reduced tax revenues during the bush years and 2 unfunded wars and medicare d. when the debt is back below 20% of gdp, tax rates can go down until a stasis point is reached where the deficit is slowly going down... I don't think that there is anything magical about 19%.

I think that we need a national math lesson on marginal rates. Everybody pasy the same rates on the first 250K under the obama plan and only the income above 250k gets the new 3% higher tax. I think we need to progressivize the top end of the income scale... someone making 1 million shouldn't pay the same tax rate as someone making a billion.

Posted by: srw3 | August 13, 2010 2:52 AM | Report abuse

Bush's appointees burrowed in all over the executive branch before he left office (see, e.g., http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/06/gao_study_finds_improper_burrowing_in_bush_years.php). This raises the possibility that Ryan could go to the Treasury Department and find people who were essentially Republican partisans to rubber stamp his plan. It would be useful, therefore, to know more about who he worked with in Treasury. Did they go through proper channels or did they contact someone they knew and have them arrange the evaluation?

Posted by: dfhoughton | August 13, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I do not choose to slurp conservatives who want to shift even more wealth to the top 1% and gut Social Security and Medicare, unlike Ezra the "progressive." I wish he would keep his mancrushes and his work separate.

Posted by: redscott1904 | August 13, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Progressive spending-- on roads, on food and shelter for the elderly, on teachers, on police and fire protection, on healthcare-- is a cancer.

Wow

I weep for the "Christians" in this country

Posted by: jamie_2002 | August 13, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Erza, you said it yourself. Ryan is doing what most corporations do on credit ratings: shopping around to find the best deal and ignore anyone else who has something different to show namely JCT who turned him down to rate his revenue proposals. With that he went to Treasury and then to the CBO to have it scored. TPC came out with their own modeling that contradict his assertion.

It stands to reason why many of his proposals are not popular because it will give benefits to people who don't need it and take it away to those who do need it and will not pass (even Boehner is sidestepping the issue and that should tell you something) Furthermore there are many Bush appointees burrowed in agencies. It is quite possible that he knew who is still there in order to get the numbers he wanted.

In many cases I have seen ignorant from conservative readers who are touting his plan without realizing the implications involved. He even updated his plan back in January 2010 after creating it in 2008 in light of the recession.

Posted by: beeker25 | August 13, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

And to add to it: I am researching it myself and so far it coming out more like the Laffer Curve theory that many economists have derided it. And what Arthur Laffer do: continue to argue his theory works by pointing out other countries not ours to justify his theory.

Posted by: beeker25 | August 13, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Ryan's roadmap (to the 3rd world) is just another attempt to get at SS and Medicare. That's why the Post loves it. And, other media will pretend he's some sort of genius.

This time, he threw in a bunch of other shelved ideas so some ignorant people will believe that they'd be better off in his 3rd world America. Most wouldn't. But, it's all about finding enough suckers, and this is a good attempt at that.

Posted by: rat-raceparent | August 13, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

The think tanks might also have an "agenda" that might be "liberal".

Posted by: gorak | August 13, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

You're being waaaaay too generous to Ryan. His actual Road Map never said anything about revenue estimates from treasury. The phrasing actually implied that the CBO had projected that they would meet their revenue targets. Moreover, when Ryan finally did bring up the "Treasury Defense" he didn't actually say that they scored his plan, he said that they scored a "similar plan" and that this score was provided several years ago. It seems like he's provided a post-hoc justification for a methodological sleight of hand that he thought he would get away with.

Posted by: zosima | August 15, 2010 12:49 AM | Report abuse

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