James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Matt Miller vs. Paul Ryan

March 4, 2011

Over at the WaPo, the great Jennifer Rubin takes Matt Miller to task for his completely unfair and wrongheaded critique of Paul Ryan.  See, Matt Miller has a thesis shared by many in the MSM and center-left think tank community. It goes like this:

1. As societies get richer — and older — they demand bigger government to provide more services.

2. Thus to prevent a fiscal crisis, taxes much go up since it is impossible to substantially cut spending.

3. And since Paul Ryan advocates, to Miller at least, the impossible — spending less government money on entitlements and keeping taxes low — Ryan is not a serious person when it comes to dealing with America’s debt problem.

The problem with Miller’s thesis is as follows:

1. Raising taxes high enough to deal with exploding healthcare costs would kill economic growth, making the debt problem even worse.

2. Ryan, via his Roadmap for America, demonstrates a way to provide a safety net that does not require bigger government. Miller refuses to acknowledge the viability of free market solutions.

3.  There is no political evidence that Americans are ready for dramatically higher taxes.

Comments

So the reason Miller is pointing out the absurdities of Paul Ryan’s plan is that the country is struggling to clean up the fiscal mess left by … Republicans like Paul Ryan. Ryan voted for budgetary and economic policies that added $5 trillion to the national debt over eight years. He supported the budgetary and economic policies that took a $230 billion surplus and turned it into a $1.3 trillion deficit. He was proud to endorse all kinds of measures, including two wars and Medicare expansion, that cost a bundle, but which Ryan and his cohorts never even tried to pay for.
But now Paul Ryan has decided it’s time to clean up the mess he helped create, and to do so, he wants to go after Medicare and Social Security.
Ryan’s “roadmap” is a right-wing fantasy, slashing taxes on the rich while raising taxes for everyone else. The plan calls for privatizing Social Security and gutting Medicare, and fails miserably in its intended goal — cutting the deficit.
When Matt Miller suggests that’s ridiculous, Pethokoukis concludes that HE’s being unfair and wrongheaded? Come ON.

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