Suddenly, Paul Ryan has lost his Seriousness. What happened?
In an otherwise repellent editorial, the Washington Post (Fox on 15th) notes something interesting about Paul Ryan’s budget. Over half of the cuts in the budget come from Ryan’s proposed half repeal of Obamacare. He gets $1.8 trillion dollars by cutting everything the program does. And then he gets an additional $700 billion dollars from interest savings. That makes $2.5 trillion cut from the budget due to the pseudo-repeal of Obamacare. There is also a bit more than $100 billion in extra taxes, which brings the total to $2.6 trillion. That’s 57% of the savings.
As usual, there is nothing to Paul Ryan’s budget. And that’s to be expected. I assume that in his mind, he is very clear on what he wants to do: he wants to screw the poor, sick, and elderly. But he isn’t willing to lose his seat in the House by letting his constituency know what he really thinks. Thus, he gets his cuts from voucherizing Medicare, block granting Medicaid, and “repealing” Obamacare. He isn’t even brave enough to suggest cutting Social Security.
This new budget seems to be getting a lukewarm reception from the pundit class. Liberals hate it, of course. But Forbes discusses how many conservatives are having a hard time with it. Even Rush Limbaugh is icy towards it. And as noted above, the Washington Post is none too happy about it, even as they spend much time talking about how balancing the budget is just the greatest thing since Wonder invented sliced bread.
It is interesting that Ryan’s budget is now toxic. It is in no way less ridiculous than his two previous budgets, which lead to his receiving awards. Why the change? After all, I don’t hear anyone admitting that they were wrong before. But I think the Washington Post editorial explains it.
The editorial divides Ryan’s budget into three parts: the good, the bad, and the “ain’t gonna happen.” The “good” is just Ryan’s idea of using “fair value” accounting for student loans and housing credits. I don’t know much about accounting, but you can see what this change will do: make life more expensive for the poor and middle classes. And this is where the Post is cheering along Ryan. The “ain’t gonna happen” is just Obamacare.
Where the Post shows its true colors is in the “bad” section.” They are all for turning Medicare into a voucher program. The problem with Ryan’s plan is that it doesn’t do it for ten years. Just think of all the people we could get rid of if he started depriving seniors of medical care right now! They are also upset that Ryan isn’t touching Social Security. The horror!
The reason that centrists loved Ryan before was that his budget was cruel. The reason they hate it now is that it isn’t cruel enough. When Ryan was pitching a balanced budget in 30 years, it was fine to not start inflicting severe punishment on the poor for a decade or so. But now that Ryan is pitching a balanced budget in 10 years, that punishment has to come now. So Paul Ryan is only considered Serious as long as he is able to credibly claim that he really is for hurting the citizenry. This is the same reason that centrists never even consider The People’s Budget; it may balance the budget, but it isn’t Serious because it doesn’t hurt the poor.