I have been sitting on this for a while because it did not get much press at the time. Krugman’s rebuke of Ryan, has been written about extensively. Ryan (R- Wall St), for some reason cant seem to get enough press(presidential ambitions maybe?). He also is not very good at getting criticized as we find out today. He was mildly criticized by David Brooks regarding an op-ed he wrote in the Wall Street Journal. (How he gets unlimited print space I guess is another post). Well Mr. ego cant even handle mild criticism so he fires back at David Brooks today.
What was lost in the shuffle was Dean Bakers scathing article regarding Ryan and his roadmap. Dean Baker, is an economist(full disclosure, probably the one I respect the most), author and co-director of Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. He has been writing about the housing bubble and predicting the recession for years. He recently turned his eye towards Ryan’s roadmap and broke down
his op-ed reply to Krugman in the Washington Post. After expressing awe that Ryan would be allowed newspaper space for such twisted reality, he addresses it lie by lie. Here are some highlights:
*”This apparent improvement was the basis for Democratic celebration — even though the program remains tens of trillions of dollars in the hole.”
This one is beyond debate. The new projections show a Medicare shortfall equal to 0.3 percent of GDP over its 75 year projection period. This is equal to $2.7 trillion. And, even in Washington, $2.7 trillion is not “tens of trillions.”
*Ryan begins the fourth paragraph: “Put simply, Medicare is on course to collapse.” No, the trustees report released last week implies that it has a relatively minor shortfall. The trustees could be wrong, but if their projections prove accurate, then Medicare is actually in fine shape.
*Of course Ryan’s plan would end Medicare as we know it. It replaces a Medicare system that pays directly for health care with a voucher system. The voucher is explicitly designed not to keep pace with health care costs.
* “If we act now, we can avoid disruptions for current seniors while advancing patient-centered reforms so Medicare will be strengthened for future beneficiaries. The alternative is the European-style death spiral of the welfare state: kick the can down the road as our debt explodes.”
Again, the latest projections from the Medicare actuaries imply that there is no great urgency to “act now.” The “European-style death spiral” might be useful political ad hominem, but it has no meaning. Some European countries, like Greece and Italy, do face severe budget problems, however some of the countries with the most expansive welfare states, like Denmark and Sweden, have much lower debt burdens than the United States.
*Of course to the seniors who would be unable to afford decent health care if Mr. Ryan’s plan became law, his sincerity won’t make any difference.
I am not sure why he let Mr. Bakers criticism slide, was it because Ryan knew he was lying and did not want to “bring a rubber band to a gun fight” in trying to take on Baker, or because Baker is a non partisan economist and he cant be dismissed out of hand as being liberal. Either way does not speak well for the Wall St. Golden Boy with the nice hair.