The Smart vs. the Dumb

Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan is smart; former economist turned Democratic Party shill Paul Krugman is not. Congressman Ryan has proposed a Roadmap to lead America away from the path of fiscal ruin and toward solvency. One can debate, of course, the Roadmap’s specific features, and Republicans are doing so. But Krugman is much too lazy to engage in such debate, and not sufficiently knowledgeable to do so. So he did what liberals always do when they are out of ammo: he smeared Ryan.
Ryan responded first in an op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Despite watching European welfare states collapse under the weight of their own debt, those running Washington are leading us down precisely the same path. With the debt surpassing $13 trillion, we can no longer avoid having a serious discussion about how to address the unsustainable growth of government.
Unfortunately, rather than make meaningful contributions to this conversation and bring solutions to the table, Democrats have attempted to win this debate by default. Relying on demagoguery and distortion, the left would prefer that entitlements – often labeled the “third rail” of American politics – remain untouchable, and the column by Paul Krugman of The New York Times is indicative of the partisan attacks leveled against the plan I’ve offered, a “Roadmap for America’s Future.”
When I introduced the “Roadmap,” my hope was that it would spur an open and honest discussion about how our nation can address its fiscal challenges. If we are truly committed to developing real solutions, this discussion must be free of the inflammatory rhetoric that has derailed past reform efforts. In keeping with this spirit, it is necessary to clarify some of the inaccurate claims and distortions made recently regarding the “Roadmap.”
The assertion by Krugman and others that the revenue assumptions in the “Roadmap” are overly optimistic and that my staff directed the Congressional Budget Office not to analyze the tax elements of the “Roadmap” is a deliberate attempt to misinform and mislead.
I asked the CBO to analyze the long-term revenue impact of the “Roadmap,” but officials declined to do so because revenue estimates are the jurisdiction of the Joint Tax Committee. The Joint Tax Committee does not produce revenue estimates beyond the 10-year window, and so I worked with Treasury Department tax officials in setting the tax reform rates to keep revenues consistent with their historical average.
What critics such as Krugman fail to understand is that our looming debt crisis is driven by the explosive growth of government spending – not from a lack of tax revenue.

That was a remarkably polite refutation of Krugman’s impenetrable ignorance. Today, in an interview with the Weekly Standard, Ryan expressed himself a little more freely:

“I realize he’s a columnist and not a journalist, yet he could have easily tried to have verified his claims with a phone call or an email,” Ryan said of Krugman. “Instead he went with his confusion and chose to impugn motives,” said Ryan, “which strikes me as a very intellectually lazy exercise or style.” …
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.”

Arguing with Krugman calls to mind the old adage about mud-wrestling with a pig: not only do you wind up muddy, but the pig actually likes it. The Roadmap deserves to be debated, but don’t expect any liberals to join the debate in good faith.

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