Ryan vs. Orszag5:33 PM, Feb 17, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
From an Economics 21 staff editorial:
The Ryan and Orszag proposals represent competing visions of how the United States deals with our fiscal dilemma. Under Congressman Ryan’s vision, we try to live within our projected revenues, leave our children with tax burdens comparable to our own, and constrain our spending appetites accordingly. On the Social Security side, this means slowing the growth of benefits -- which would still grow faster than inflation.
Under the alternative vision espoused by Orszag, we would impose on younger generations higher payroll tax rates, tax a higher fraction of national wages, and levy an additional 3% benefit-less surcharge, thereby reducing economic growth and individual saving.
The contest between the Ryan and Orszag visions for Social Security is the fundamental contest between constraining our spending appetites and raising taxes to fuel persistently higher costs. It mirrors the gap between the Obama Administration’s larger fiscal policies, and the views of American voters on the political center and on the right.
This editorial is a useful reminder that the Roadmap for America's Future not only tackles Medicare and Medicaid spending; it drastically overhauls Social Security and tax policy, as well. You can say Ryan's plan is ambitious -- perhaps too ambitious! But you can't say it isn't a serious attempt to save a sinking ship.
There are big differences between Ryan's free market plan and Obamacare's command and control rationing system.10:30 AM, Feb 15, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote on Friday that Republicans are a bunch of hypocrites because they criticized the $500 billion in Medicare cuts (it's actually $800 billion over 10 years) in the Democrats' health care legislation, but Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has proposed a long-term budget "Roadmap" that would, as Krugman contends, "dismantle the whole [Medicare] program." (Apparently Krugman didn't have enough room in his column to point out that Democrats might be hypocrites for denouncing Medicare cuts under Clinton, then proposing Medicare cuts in Obamacare, then denouncing Paul Ryan's reform as "abolishing" Medicare--while simultaneously pushing to pass Obamacare's Medicare cuts through reconciliation. But I digress.)
Some conservative commentators have joined Krugman in criticizing Republicans for resorting to supposedly cynical and hypocritical 'Mediscare' tactics to defeat Obamacare. But Paul Ryan says that he doesn't think Republicans have been hypocritical, because there are very big differences between his Medicare reform plan and Obamacare's Medicare cuts. For starters:
The liberal bait and switch.4:05 PM, Feb 11, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's Roadmap for America's Future has sparked intense debate ever since President Obama singled Ryan out during the January 29 House GOP retreat in Baltimore, Maryland. Predictably, support for Ryan's good-faith proposal to solve America's long-term fiscal crisis by transforming the welfare state for Americans under 55 years old has been divided along ideological lines. Michael Gerson, George F. Will, David Brooks, Ross Douthat, and The Economist all have kind things to say about the proposal. Liberal commentators and Democratic politicians, from administrational officials to the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, do not.
Liberals have seized on the Roadmap in order to say that Republicans want to leave seniors in the cold. Today, the Wisconsin Democratic party organized a conference call, featuring Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra of California and left-wing economist Dean Baker, devoted entirely to attacking Ryan and his plan. (Ryan participated in a conference call of his own to respond.) Meanwhile, the liberal Talking Points Memo website reports that House Democrats are planning to hold a vote on a resolution condemning the Roadmap and other attempts to introduce personal accounts into Social Security. This week's blizzard interfered with the Democrats' plans, however. Now the vote is up in the air.
The GOP congressman engages his opponents.11:13 AM, Feb 3, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Even his adversaries agree that Rep. Paul Ryan's Roadmap for America's Future is a big idea: The plan reforms Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and the income tax. It effectively deals with the long-term fiscal crisis. The Obama budget, by contrast, projects record deficits and rising public debt long into the future.
Obama says the Republicans are always on the sidelines, but on a major issue -- preventing the fiscal reckoning that could lead to high interest rates, inflation, low growth, economy-strangling austerity plans, or all of the above -- Obama and the Democrats have little to say. To date, the president's attempt to address the entitlement problem has been restricted to his health care bill, which relied on rosy assumptions and left the "tough choices" to future Congresses and Independent Medicare Advisory Boards. And the health reform is unlikely to pass in any case. Entitlement commissions? Nonstarters. Spending freezes? They're trivial. We're back at square one.
The closest we'll get to prime minister's questions.2:52 PM, Jan 29, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
President Obama traveled to Baltimore today to address a meeting of the House Republicans. You can read the New York Times report here. The meeting was definitely positive for Obama: he was able to tout his willingness to work with the opposition; he was, as usual, thoughtful in his speech and tone; and he had plenty of time, as usual, to blame Republicans for closed-minded obstinacy. A few of his Republican interlocutors made him look like Socrates in comparison. The State of the Union address made Obama look small. This meeting made him look large-hearted and in command--at least for the moment.
But Obama wasn't the only winner. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the young, pleasant, wonky member of the House Budget and Ways & Means Committees, saw his stock rise today, as well. Obama and Ryan engaged in a detailed, serious, good-faith debate over future spending and the Wisconsin congressman's Roadmap for America's Future. The result was something I never thought I'd see: compelling daytime television.
You can read Paul Ryan's recent op-ed for the Wall Street Journal here. Ryan has a big idea--major reform of the American welfare state. (If anything, the idea is too ambitious; our political system likes incremental reform!) He's a pro-life, limited government conservative from a district the president won in 2008. He's got charisma and smarts. Why do I think this wasn't the last time we'll see Ryan and Obama debate?