WaPo's New Conservative Blogger Takes On NYT's David Brooks

The Washington Post has added a new conservative blogger to its stable, one that NewsBusters readers should be familiar with.

Only three days into her new position, Jennifer Rubin has made it clear she has no intention of toning down her criticism of mainstream media darlings like New York Times columnist David Brooks:

Yesterday I shared some of the debate between Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and David Brooks at the American Enterprise Institute, observing that Brooks's original characterization of Ryan as an anti-government conservative was inaccurate (a point proven correct in the AEI exchange). Today, Brooks again is misrepresenting the terms of the debate.

At issue this Friday were the following paragraphs from Brooks's article "A Tax Reform Vision":

On Thursday, I debated Paul Ryan at the American Enterprise Institute on the proper role of government. Ryan is the incoming House Budget Committee chairman and one of the most intellectually formidable members of Congress. I really admire many of the plans he has put forward to bring down debt and reduce health care costs.

But Ryan and I differed over President Obama and the prospects for compromise in the near term. Ryan believes that the country faces a clearly demarcated choice. The Democratic Party, he argues, believes in creating a European-style cradle-to-grave social welfare state, while the Republicans believe in a free-market opportunity society. There is no overlap between the two visions and very little reason to think they can be reconciled.

As Rubin noted:

It is that last sentence that is inaccurate -- and Ryan has plainly rejected it. Yes, he says there is a clear choice between the Republicans' opportunity society and the Democrats' cradle-to-grave welfare state, but he emphasized that there is room for a deal, as embodied by his own entitlement-reform plan crafted with Democrat Alice Rivlin, the former Federal Reserve vice chairman. During yesterday's debate, Ryan touted the "centrist coalition" that is forming, concluding that "the progressive left will be separated" from the center-right coalition.

I'm not sure why Brooks fails to accurately relate the debate to his readers.

Let me offer an answer: Brooks like most in the mainstream media wants to paint the Republicans as the Party of No thereby depicting the GOP as the source of all America's problems. Any departure from this opens up the possibility that Obama and his Party could be blamed for legislative inaction that results in higher taxes next year.

Making matters worse, there really was no reason for Brooks to paint such a picture in what was largely a compelling piece about how the President could radically change the current discussion about the Bush tax cuts.

Brooks began:

I have a vision.

Sometime over the next couple of weeks, President Obama issues a statement that reads: “Over the past several months, Republicans and Democrats have been fighting over what to do with the Bush tax cuts. I have my own views, but it’s not worth having a big fight over a tax code we all hate. Therefore, I’m suspending this debate. We will extend the Bush rates for everybody for one year, along with unemployment benefits. But during that year we will enact a comprehensive tax reform plan.

“The plan we will work on this year will look a bit like the 1986 reform plan. We will clean out the loopholes. We will take on the special interests. We will lower rates and make the tax code fair.”

Then Obama asks his aides to come up with a tax reform proposal he can lay before Congress.

I very much like that vision, and think that if Obama did something resembling this in the next couple of weeks, he could radically change this debate as well as his poll numbers with independent voters that left him in droves on November 2.

The problem with Brooks's vision is that he led readers to believe Ryan and the GOP would be in the way of it coming to fruition.

Quite the contrary, Republicans would welcome a serious discussion about income tax reform in the new Congress if Obama put it on the table in this fashion.

Counter to Brooks's implication, it seems a stretch to believe this is something the current White House resident would champion and even more of a stretch that the far-left Democrat leadership in the House and the Senate would support it.

With this in mind, Brooks would have been far more honest with his readers if he told them that it is much more likely Democrats are interfering with his tax reform dream coming true.

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