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Road map to where?

Matt Miller has a thorough critique today of the Paul Ryan road map. The taxes are too low, he says, the savings take too long, and the health-care portion doesn't go nearly far enough. It's worth reading the whole thing. And it made me want to see Miller devote his next column to a road map of his own.

As for Ryan, recently he's been complaining about Democratic "attacks" on him and his plan. And, to be fair, there have been some of those. But Miller's op-ed isn't an attack. It's a critique -- part of the serious discussion about difficult choices Ryan says he wants his road map to start. So I'd love to see him respond.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 19, 2010; 9:25 AM ET
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This is what it's come down to: The armchair quarterbacks are now running the game, with all the resultant nonsense that one would expect.

It's not the way a free country should operate, and what's left of that free country won't continue to operate for long if this is the way it's going to be.

Posted by: msoja | August 19, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Apparently, Mr. Ryan expected points for showing up and saying something other than "no." Republican policymaking reminds me of what Samuel Johnson said about women's preaching and dogs walking on two legs: "It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."

Posted by: ciocia1 | August 19, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

--Apparently, Mr. Ryan expected points for showing up and saying something other than "no."--

In the face of "activist" government, the only legitimate answer is "no", and Ryan should keep it at that.

Posted by: msoja | August 19, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Exactly. As hundreds of other prominent people have described Ryan's nonsense for months, increasing recently, your previous premise of "at least it's a plan whether good or bad" is stupid.

Here's a more obvious "plan": just cut everything! Is that really a "plan whether good or bad", or is it a flimflam attempt to get credt for nothing?

Posted by: JF11 | August 19, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Let me predict his response: "Wah, wah, wah... Stop picking on me!"

Posted by: rat-raceparent | August 19, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Ryan has about as much a shot getting his roadmap into action as I do becoming representative of Wisconsin's 1st District. I can only guess what his reaction to the latest critique of his plan will be...hmm.

My critique isn't for Ryan's plan so much as it is for all of Ezra's kudos for anyone who divines a "plan" - as you did with Mitt Romney yesterday. If a plan sucks - it sucks; and Ryan's plan sucks. Ryan himself said he decided to put pen to paper on the idea after reading Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Facisim." The fact that a.) he actually admits to having read Goldberg's book and b.) he derived inspiration from it - should tell you everything you need to know: the man is a snake in the grass waiting for an opportunity to kill the fabric of America's social safety net - and for what? So the rich can get richer? Don't let his youthful appeal and the fact that he has "a plan" fool you into thinking this guy is any different from any other lock-step Red Stater in Congress today.

Posted by: groucho_smith | August 19, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

since when did ryan vote "yes" on anything proposed by a Democrat? So don't say ryan isn't one of those saying no.

Posted by: lauren2010 | August 19, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Miller's critique is not a critique, it's a bunch of unsupported whining. Miller says "it doesn't lower national health costs". He fails to understand that a system where the consumer purchases the health care directly lowers costs by giving the consumer to seek value in treatment. This means that the providers will have to compete on price and quality, that people will seek low costs options- not having to go to a $180 doctor to get a $3 penicillin prescription.

Miller's critique on taxes is also insane- "But how can we double the number of Americans on Social Security and Medicare as baby boomers retire and keep taxes at the same level they were when America's population was much younger?" He looks like he is of the age of the people retiring soon who didn't pay enough in taxes during their lifetimes to cover their impending retirement. I am going to be stuck making up for Miller's failure to demand higher taxes when the baby boomers had enough time to actually sock the money away for their own social security and medicare. Sorry grasshopper, this ant doesn't want to pay for your indolence.

Posted by: staticvars | August 19, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Here's 'my plan':
1) we are going to reduce spending without affecting anyone,
2) cut taxes (which will raise revenues 20%), and
3) build magical unicorns to do the rest.

We'll just given Boeing and Lockeed enormous contracts to sort out the details, so everything should be better soon!

Ryan's roadmap is about as effective as 'my plan'.

Posted by: rat-raceparent | August 19, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Come on guys. There is an obvious difference between a stupid or bad plan and no plan at all. Stupid plans can be debated and disected and critiqued. There can be rebuttals and amendments, etc. And, of course, while facts are always of primary importance, there will always be a degree to which plans are based on the values of the planner, so a plan I think is stupid could be considered good if you had different values of goals.

The point is that a stupid plan is better than just saying "no". "No" is never a sufficient answer if you're serious about governing. Simply saying "no" stops the debate and just makes it a question of whether the proposal can get around you. It's also completely cowardly, as you're allowing other people to make serious proposals without taking any risk by proposing something you think is better.

I think "commended" is too strong of a word, but Ryan proposed a pretty specific plan to put his values into action and that's a good thing even if his plan is terrible. And the proper response to the proposal of bad plans is to point out what is wrong with them and make a counter proposal.

That's how you govern.

Posted by: MosBen | August 19, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Again, for the millionth time, the Tax Policy Center's analysis was a static analysis which assumed no behavioral changes from a massive overhaul of the tax system. It is not terribly useful. Please the second to last paragraph of their own blog.

Posted by: cdosquared5 | August 19, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Uh, staticvars? We "baby boomers" HAVE been "saving" for our "impending retirement" since 1983 - almost 30 years now. The amount we paid in EXTRA payroll taxes - almost double, in fact - that was over and above what was needed to pay current social security benefits went into a rock-solid savings account, invested in U.S. Treasury bonds. The account is called "the Social Security Trust Fund." Maybe you've heard of it?

Posted by: KarenJG | August 19, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, please explain something to me. If a tax credit is $5,700 and the premium is $14,000, doesn't that make the NET COST of the premium $8,300. For a family making near the median income of around $45,000 that sounds pretty good to me.

Posted by: kingstu01 | August 20, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

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