August 14, 2012

Ross Douthat's crush on #PaulRyan

Ross Douthat
Ross Douthat occasionally has a strongly factual NYTimes column; sometimes he has a reasonably factual one. He at least seems to give more effort to dealing with the reality-based world than do "Teapot Tommy" Friedman or "Send in the Boboes" David Brooks.

Usually.

Then, there's times where he sounds like a kinder, gentler, larger-vocabularied tea party-type wingnut.

This paean of love to Paul Ryan, claiming that moderates should love him, is exactly that.

The real fun starts here:
Most Republicans would have been happy posing as deficit-reducers while arguing for deficit-financed tax cuts. But Ryan, despite his own supply-side sympathies, deliberately drew up a plan for deficit reduction that would work with our current tax code, and doesn’t require any rosy fantasies about how tax cuts will spur unprecedented growth.
Totally wrong, of course. Douthat's colleague, Paul Krugman, has already called Ryan's plan a fraud because he refuses to talk about specific deficit cuts (other than his plans to privatize things like Social Security). Krugman's on the trail again, now. And, Ryan hasn't ruled out supply-side tax cuts, either.

Douthat then shows he thinks moderates should like the entire House GOP:
Most Republicans would have been happy to hang the White House’s decision to help pay for its health care bill with $700 billion worth of Medicare cuts around President Obama’s neck without proposing any entitlement reforms of their own. But Ryan didn’t just propose a much more sweeping Medicare overhaul, he proceeded to do the hard work of persuading his fellow House Republicans to actually vote for his entitlement-reforming budget – twice.
The Senate GOP, of course, knew that such a plan was a non-starter and wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole. But, with computer-driven increased gerrymandering of House districts combined with the uncompromising, unthinking, "What's the Matter with Kansas" stance of tea party voters, the GOP House freshmen, especially, weren't so likely to be punished for such a vote. In fact, in some cases, they were more likely to be punished for NOT voting with Ryan.

Next, after lauding Ryan's "courage" earlier in the column, Douthat does a hypocritical backtracking:
The budget’s proposed tax reform, meanwhile, specifies new lower rates but not the deductions and loopholes that would be closed to pay for them. But Ryan clearly has an idea of which deductions he would cap and which shelters he would eliminate. He just hasn’t persuaded his fellow lawmakers to shoulder the political risks involved in getting specific.
So, it's that damned Mitch McConnell's fault!

Douthat's hypocrisy neatly mirrors that of fellow conservative Catholic Ryan, who claims he draws inspiration from Thomas Aquinas, not Ayn Rand, as noted in this column showing how Ryan is (when he's not hypocritical) bringing the social conservative vs. libertarian struggle in the GOP to the fore.

Finally, it's false dichotomy time! What else would you expect as part of the kitchen sink, and here you go:
That agenda is, as I noted at the outset, quite conservative. If you believe that middle class taxes should go up dramatically in order to keep the existing welfare state exactly as it is, as current liberal premises require, then you have every reason to reject Ryan’s proposals. And if you think that his proposals could be amended to require more of the wealthy and well-connected, and invest more in upward mobility for the down-and-out – well, then welcome to the club.
Wrong again. Social Security and Medicare are, of course, largely middle-class entitlements. So too, are much else that's "welfare," including guaranteed student loans that actually help banksters as much as students, but that's another story. We could spend plenty of time listing middle-class entitlements besides that, such as SBA loans, but you know the drill.

The point is, much of our welfare state is for the middle class. As Douthat knows but will never say in public, "old Europe" has more socioeconomic class mobility than the US.

This might not be his worst column in terms of lack of facts, but in brazenness of lying other under terms, it may well be.

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