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Monday, May 03, 2010

Frum gives Ryan too much credit, ignores hypocrisy

by folkbum

A lot of liberals these days like David Frum, former loyal Bushie who has made a good living lately being dismayed at how the party that elected George W. Bush, squandered a surplus, tripled the debt, bungled two wars, violated civil liberties, tortured and killed enemies real and suspected, gutted environmental protections, let BP get away with choosing not to install backup shut-off valves on its Gulf oil rigs though they're commonly required elsewhere around the world, and so on, has "suddenly" gone around the bend.

And no doubt Frum lives on this side of the border between reality and the fantasyland of the Tea Partiers and the Palnistas and the other residents of GlennBeckistan. But that doesn't make him any more correct when, as he did yesterday, he lauds a fraud like Wisconsin's Paul Ryan:
The only politician in Washington honest enough to bring forth an honest budget is Rep. Paul Ryan, his alternative budget would balance the budget without any taxes but it requires the privatization of Social Security, eliminating the tax deduction companies get for providing health insurance (which would mean employees health benefits would be treated as income) and it basically turns Medicare into a voucher system for those over 65 to go purchase health insurance in the marketplace. Perhaps when Rep. Paul Ryan supplants Sarah Palin as the star and face of the Tea Party movement, old fashion fiscal conservatives will take them more seriously.
Frum's first error is to call Ryan's roadmap honest. It isn't; independent analyses note that Ryan's prediction of a balanced budget--a prediction he places so far into the future both he and I and probably you, unless you're reading this sometime in the 2060s, will be long dead--is not actually even accurate!

Frum further claims the Roadmap is "without any taxes," which given the larger context I think actually means "without any new taxes." This, too, is false, as Ryan's Roadmap pretty clearly calls for a consumption tax and for taxing health care benefits provided by employers. When you run the numbers, as I have noted previously, that means that all of us but the top 10% (who benefit from cuts under Ryan's plan) will see their tax bills go up.

The privatization of Social Security is also a budget buster (the cost to privatize it is greater than the cost to just make it fully solvent), and the medicare vouchers are set so low your grandmother will have to choose between medical care and food.

But that's not all. Immediately following the paragraph above, Frum goes off on Medicare Part D:
Where were the mass protests in 2004 when a Republican Congress passed Medicare Part D? This bill will cost all taxpayers over the next ten years over $1.2 trillion dollars and was paid for by debt; neither tax increases nor spending cuts were issued to offset the new Medicare program. Former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker has called it “the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s.”
Yes. Where were the protests? In fact, where was Frum-anointed fiscal "star" Paul "Roadmap" Ryan? Why, Ryan was right there on the floor of the US House of Representatives voting for Medicare Part D!

So Frum fails this basic test. Yes, Frum may recognize the economic and historical illiteracy of a lot of the Tea Party, and he has a legitimate gripe that a movement whose spokespeople include Victoria Jackson has taken over from the movement whose spokespeople used to include, say, Tom DeLay. But if Frum is going to lionize an opportunistic, lying Randroid hypocrite like Paul Ryan, he's no better than the rest of them.

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