The assault on Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin's Roadmap for America's Future is not only coordinated. It's misleading and irresponsible. Politico observes that "in just a week, Ryan had gone from being seen as the smart conservative whom Obama might take seriously to being seen as the symbol of how Democrats believe Republicans would dismantle the social safety net if the GOP took control of Congress." Obama, budget chief Peter Orszag and congressional Democrats have all said that Ryan's plan would dismantle the welfare state and leave seniors and the poor on their own. Obama launched the criticism at the House GOP retreat in Baltimore last week. On February 4, congressional Democrats held a conference call in which leadership told members how to criticize Ryan's plan. Liberal media outlets are following the Democrats' preferred story-line.
Key fact: Ryan's plan preserves the current entitlement system for everyone over the age of 55. The rest of us will see dramatic changes in the structure of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the tax code--changes the CBO says will solve the long-term budget problem, in ways that increase individual choice and limit government's scope. If nothing is done, America faces high interest rates, inflation, and economy-crushing tax rates. Is this the future Democrats prefer? After all, they have provided no alternative way to achieve the Roadmap's outcomes.
Why is the assault on Ryan irresponsible? Because Democrats are pretending that America's future budget obligations aren't a serious problem. They have no proposals to limit the growth in entitlements other than phantom reductions in Medicare reimbursement rates, a parodic "spending freeze," and independent commissions whose recommendations Congress will probably ignore. Democrats clearly hope they can preserve their majorities by demagogic attacks on Ryan. Meanwhile, the crisis approaches.
Obama has no ideas to balance the budget. Ryan has a big one--one that nonpartisan analysts say would work. Thus, he's now a target.