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Ryan Rips Krugman: 'Intellectually Lazy' and 'Bizarre' Attack

Congressman Paul Ryan disputes NY Times columnist's claims on taxes, spending, and Medicare.

7:30 PM, Aug 9, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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“There’s a lot of data that shows the burden of corporate taxation is born on the worker and the consumer, in the form of taxes being passed on through prices or being taken out of wages. So the point is this system is not designed to raise taxes on anybody," Ryan said. “I think it will result in more jobs in America, more U.S.-based corporations, and better wages.”

Ryan also responded to Krugman's criticism that his domestic discretionary spending freeze is impractical and doesn't spell out exactly which programs would be cut. “Domestic discretionary spending went up 84 percent last year," said Ryan. "There has been such a gusher of domestic discretionary spending that I think we can live with a freeze for a long time to come." The point of a spending freeze, said Ryan, is to put "strong enforceable controls in place and then make the experts, whether it be the appropriators or the agencies, come up with a way to live within their means."

Ryan also responded point-by-point to Krugman's criticism of the Roadmap's Medicare reform. As for Krugman's claim that under Ryan's Medicare reform only the wealthy could "get the care they need; everyone else would be out in the cold," Ryan said:

That’s the argument we should be using against the current Medicare fee for service cuts that they’re using to pay for this other entitlement [Obamacare]. What’s going to happen under the current plan is doctors and hospitals are going to start rationing care, cutting back on services, denying patients, and only the wealthy will be able to afford additional care. That’s the path we’re on right now. What risk- adjusted, means-tested assistance does is it targets government’s assistance to those who need it most: the poor and the sick. And the well-off have to pay more out of pocket.

Krugman also claimed that Ryan's plan would lead to higher health care costs: "we already know, from experience with the Medicare Advantage program, that a voucher system would have higher, not lower, costs than our current system."

Ryan replied that "Medicare Advantage did not attack the root cause of health inflation," saying a free-market reform would have to be applied to the entire health care sector to bring down costs. "I’m one of those people who believes that the free-market system will work in the health care sector as it has in every other sector of the economy,” he said. “We have great evidence of" the free-market doing so "where it’s been applied." Ryan said that anti-free market advocates of a single-payer system simply "don’t believe in the merits of the free market," and believe health care "is a government right that must be run, redistributed, rationed and controlled by government."

While Ryan focused on the nitty-gritty policy aspects of his Roadmap this afternoon, he suggested that the underlying argument is about principles, not facts. “At the core of this is a big ideological fight between those who believe in the Founding principles and the sense of limited government—the American idea—and those who believe in the progressivist welfare state,” Ryan said.

“The Roadmap is designed to maintain a limited government in the 21st century, and it is the antithesis of the progressivist vision which [Krugman] subscribes to. That’s fine. I understand it violates his vision for a progressivist society,” Ryan continued. "What I think is rather bizarre is his strange personal attack and ad hominem attacks based upon his confusion surrounding the scoring process, which could have been easily clarified with a simple phone call or email."

"I'm not going to descend into the mudpit with Krugman on this stuff," Ryan said. "I want to stay on policy and ideas."

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