Thursday, August 16, 2012
Conservative Rich Lowry ends a column about
leftist smears of Paul Ryan over his Medicare proposals on what seems like a
This vision -- now at the center of the campaign -- deserves a serious, honest debate, and will assuredly not get it.Lowry's heart is in the right place, but he is unfortunately only half right about why we're in danger of holding an election after this issue (and many others) will be demagogued. Yes, leftists are lying about Ryan's proposal, and I'm glad that Lowry cares enough to set the record straight. Nevertheless, the penultimate paragraph is a perfect illustration of other the half of the problem:
What the Ryan plan offers, most fundamentally, is a vision of a reformed entitlement state that won't require massive new tax increases or debt to fund. For all the talk of the "radicalism" of his budget, it keeps taxes at a slightly higher level of GDP than they have averaged over the past several decades. Ten years from now, federal spending still would be at a higher level of GDP than it was at the end of the Clinton years.This is what excites conservatives? This is the best we can do? Most conservatives can see the economic argument that controls breed controls, at least when criticizing leftist proposals. (It doesn't come up here, but it should have, among conservatives, ages ago.) But until more conservatives proposals get the same scrutiny and, more important, Americans generally begin to question the premise behind the entitlement state, our "debates" will consist of mere quibbling over how to preserve it.
What would a real debate about Ryan's proposal look like? In addition to it being presented for what it actually is, it would be presented within the full context of more fundamental questions, such as: Is the entitlement state a good idea and, if not, how best do we rid ourselves if it?