Paul Ryan Strikes Back at 'Intellectually Lazy' Paul Krugman

Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has struck back at Paul Krugman calling the New York Times columnist "intellectually lazy."

As NewsBusters reported Saturday, Krugman wrote an article the previous day castigating Ryan as "The Flimflam Man" calling the Congressman a "charlatan" and a "fraud" while claiming his "Roadmap" to balance the nation's budget was "drenched in flimflam sauce."

Krugman's criticisms of the Republican rising star were of course praised by all manner of media member from the shills at MSNBC to the sycophants in the liberal blogosphere.

Since then, Ryan has responded and responded well, first at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Saturday:

The assertion by Krugman and others that the revenue assumptions in the "Roadmap" are overly optimistic and that my staff directed the Congressional Budget Office not to analyze the tax elements of the "Roadmap" is a deliberate attempt to misinform and mislead.

I asked the CBO to analyze the long-term revenue impact of the "Roadmap," but officials declined to do so because revenue estimates are the jurisdiction of the Joint Tax Committee. The Joint Tax Committee does not produce revenue estimates beyond the 10-year window, and so I worked with Treasury Department tax officials in setting the tax reform rates to keep revenues consistent with their historical average.

What critics such as Krugman fail to understand is that our looming debt crisis is driven by the explosive growth of government spending - not from a lack of tax revenue.

Krugman also recycles the disingenuous claim that the "Roadmap" - the only proposal certified to make our entitlement programs solvent - would "end Medicare as we know it."

Ironically, doing nothing, as Democrats would prefer, is certain to end entitlement programs as we know them, and in the process, beneficiaries would face painful cuts to these programs. Conversely, the "Roadmap" would pre-empt these cuts in a way that prevents unnecessary disruptions for current beneficiaries.

It reforms Medicare and Social Security so those in and near retirement (55 and older) will see no change in their benefits while preserving these programs for future generations of Americans.

As Ryan noted, his recommendations are hardly as extreme as liberal shills like Krugman claim:

Far from the "radical" label that critics have tried to pin on it, the Medicare reforms in the "Roadmap" are based on suggestions made by the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, chaired by Sen. John Breaux (D-La.). That commission recommended in 1999 "modeling a system on the one members of Congress use to obtain health care coverage for themselves and their families." With respect to Medicare and Social Security, the "Roadmap" puts in place systems similar to those members of Congress have. There has been support across the political spectrum for these types of reforms.

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.

On Sunday, Krugman replied at his Times blog:

As I predicted, a snow storm of words, dodging the math questions.

Notice that Ryan does not address the issue of the zero nominal growth assumption, and how that assumption - not entitlement reforms - is the key to his alleged spending cuts by 2020. [...]

By the way, if you look at the artful way his excuses are constructed - giving the false impression that he couldn't get a revenue score for love nor money - how is that not flimflam?

On Monday, Ryan spoke with The Weekly Standard's John McCormack to further clarify the situation:

"I realize he's a columnist and not a journalist, yet he could have easily tried to have verified his claims with a phone call or an email," Ryan said of Krugman. "Instead he went with his confusion and chose to impugn motives," said Ryan, "which strikes me as a very intellectually lazy exercise or style." [...]

Krugman wrote on his blog on Saturday that "Ryan could have gotten JCT to do a 10-year estimate; it just wouldn't go beyond that. And he chose not to get that 10-year estimate." Ryan says that's not true. "We asked Joint Tax to do it," Ryan told me. "They said they couldn't. They don't do them long-term outside the 10 year window. They couldn't do it in the first 10 years because of just how busy they were." Ryan says Krugman could have cleared this confusion up with a simple phone call. "Megan McArdle figured it out on her own," Ryan said, referring to a blog post by The Atlantic's business and economics editor. 

Clearing up confusion is never Krugman's modus operandi, as he's made a living misinforming the public on such issues. But Ryan wasn't done:

Ryan also responded to Krugman's criticism that his domestic discretionary spending freeze is impractical and doesn't spell out exactly which programs would be cut. "Domestic discretionary spending went up 84 percent last year," said Ryan. "There has been such a gusher of domestic discretionary spending that I think we can live with a freeze for a long time to come." The point of a spending freeze, said Ryan, is to put "strong enforceable controls in place and then make the experts, whether it be the appropriators or the agencies, come up with a way to live within their means."

Ryan marvelously concluded:

"The Roadmap is designed to maintain a limited government in the 21st century, and it is the antithesis of the progressivist vision which [Krugman] subscribes to. That's fine. I understand it violates his vision for a progressivist society," Ryan continued. "What I think is rather bizarre is his strange personal attack and ad hominem attacks based upon his confusion surrounding the scoring process, which could have been easily clarified with a simple phone call or email."

"I'm not going to descend into the mudpit with Krugman on this stuff," Ryan said. "I want to stay on policy and ideas."

Actually, mudpit would be an uptick considering the nether regions folks like Krugman propagandize from, for his attacks on Ryan were typically devoid of facts.

As NewsBusters reported Saturday, the primary statistical source for Krugman's "Flimflam" piece, the liberal Tax Policy Center, quickly corrected the record on Friday surprisingly defending Ryan.

But Krugman isn't concerned with that. As Hot Air's Allahpundit noted Tuesday, the Times columnist is part of an orchestrated strategy by the Left to attack all on the Right that are gaining traction with the American people:

It's the same reason why Chris Matthews went to such pains to make Ryan look unserious and why the DNC is now lumping him in with candidates like Sharron Angle in an attempt to make him seem kooky. According to the Narrative, today's conservatives are a horde of feral, brainless bigots following whatever primitive impulses their political id generates. Ryan, being both soft-spoken and very intellectually serious about the unsustainability of entitlements, is both a threat to that narrative and to the welfare state itself. As such, frankly, he's lucky he's gotten off as easy as he has thus far. Potentially, he's progressive public enemy number one. 

Indeed. What also makes Ryan so dangerous to folks like Krugman is that he represents a new breed of young, extremely intelligent, and attractive conservatives that could very well be presidential material in the future.

As such, the liberal attack machine in the media feels it's necessary to bash him whenever possible and without any concern for the facts.

As the fabulous David Byrne sang decades ago, "Same as it ever was." 

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.