[It]t’s the audacity of dopes. Mr. Ryan isn’t offering fresh food for thought; he’s serving up leftovers from the 1990s, drenched in flimflam sauce. …
So why have so many in Washington, especially in the news media, been taken in by this flimflam? It’s not just inability to do the math, although that’s part of it. There’s also the unwillingness of self-styled centrists to face up to the realities of the modern Republican Party; they want to pretend, in the teeth of overwhelming evidence, that there are still people in the G.O.P. making sense. And last but not least, there’s deference to power — the G.O.P. is a resurgent political force, so one mustn’t point out that its intellectual heroes have no clothes.
But they don’t. The Ryan plan is a fraud that makes no useful contribution to the debate over America’s fiscal future.
Forecasting the vagaries of the economy five or 10 years in advance is incredibly difficult; most projections are bound to be off, and quality analysts doing quality work will inevitably disagree about what our economic future holds. But it seems to me that the people who are worth listening to are those who engage in thoughtful dialogue with the opposition, who accept that the future—as well as any projection that claims to predict it—is uncertain, and who agree to change plans accordingly. This is exactly what Ryan has done.
Krugman, meanwhile, is grumbling that Ryan’s plan “makes no useful contribution to the debate over America’s fiscal future” while moaning that the $787 billion deficit-funded stimulus was too small and asking for another round of deficit spending. Gotcha. Please pass the flimflam sauce?
By dismissing credible proposals as “flimflam,” critics such as Krugman contribute nothing to the debate. Standing on the sidelines shouting “boo” amounts to condemning our people to a future of managed decline. Absent serious reform, spending on entitlement programs and interest on government debt will consume more and more of the federal budget, resulting in falling standards of living and higher taxes as we try to sustain an ever larger social welfare state.
The American people deserve a serious and civil discussion about how to reduce our exploding debt and deficit. By relying on ad-hominem attacks and discredited claims, Krugman and others are missing an opportunity to contribute to this discussion and are only polarizing and paralyzing attempts to solve our nation’s fiscal problems.
I reject the notion that these problems are too big or too difficult to tackle or that it is acceptable to leave future generations of Americans an inferior standard of living than we enjoy. The “Roadmap” shows that a European-style social welfare state is not inevitable, that it is not too late for our nation to choose a different path and that we can do so in a way that preserves our freedoms and traditions.