Senator Chuck Schumer of New York has taken the role of lead Democratic attack dog in the renewed campaign against Paul Ryan's fiscal Roadmap, but it's not clear that he's fully aware of what the plan lays out. Asked today in the Capitol if he had read the Roadmap, Schumer gave no response to THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
While Schumer was silent, some of his Democratic colleagues openly admitted they haven't read Ryan's plan. "I haven't had a chance to look at anything," Ben Nelson of Nebraska told me. "I looked at it briefly when it came out last fall, I think," said Mark Pryor of Arkansas. "I didn't master the details."
“I use Google Maps,” was all Richard Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, would say when asked if he'd read the plan.
Kent Conrad of North Dakota, the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, said he has read the Roadmap. “I don’t think it does nearly enough to deal with the debt,” Conrad said. “It doesn’t balance until 2063, and in the meantime it runs up trillions of dollars in additional debt.” When asked what the Democratic plan for dealing with debt was, Conrad referred to the president's debt commission proposal.
Last year, President Obama claimed he had read Ryan's proposal. "I've read it. I can tell you what's in it," Obama said during a dialogue with Ryan at the GOP retreat in Baltimore. Obama then said that Ryan's plan would "provide vouchers of some sort for current Medicare recipients at the current level," but Ryan corrected the president by pointing out the plan would leave Medicare as it is for those 55 and older. "There's a grandfathering in," Obama conceded, adding that the vouchers are "just for future beneficiaries."
"I want to make sure that I'm not being unfair to your proposal," Obama continued. The notion that Ryan's plan would affect current Medicare beneficiaries is one of the more common false attacks on the Roadmap made by Democrats. Another is that the plan would privatize Social Security.
As Chuck Schumer said this morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe: “What Paul Ryan suggests — privatization — is really a dismantling of Social Security.” In fact, Ryan's plan would only allow those 55 and younger the choice to invest only about one-third of their Social Security tax into private accounts similar to the Thrift Savings plan available to members of Congress.
But if Chuck Schumer hasn't read Ryan's Roadmap, can you really blame him for not knowing its details?