Krugman: Obama's Deficit Reduction Plan 'Really Serious'; Ryan's Is 'A Sick Joke'

It certainly isn't a surprise that Nobel laureate Paul Krugman was far more pleased with the deficit reduction plan proposed by Barack Obama this week than the one unveiled by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) last week.

In Friday's New York Times column "Who's Serious Now?" the unabashed liberal declared the President's proposal "really serious" and the Congressman's "a sick joke":

Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, sounds upset. And you can see why: President Obama, to the great relief of progressives, has called his bluff.

Readers are advised to notice how throughout his piece, Krugman was highly disrespectful and contentious towards Ryan.

Is this really necessary?

No matter what one thinks about his politics, Ryan is clearly one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, and serious people on Capitol Hill today. Such a man is deserving of respect by media members on both sides of the aisle.

Unfortunately, that's not how "progressives" in the press see things today. Ryan to them is an enemy whose opinions not only need refuting, but also debasing.

Folks like Krugman don't only want to win the political argument with Ryan; they want to humiliate and degrade him for having the nerve to offer ideas counter to their own.

Such is not only the climate in Washington today, but also at so-called news outlets that are stoking the fires of hyper-partisanship as they hypocritically complain about the caustic tone in politics:

Then people who actually understand budget numbers went to work, and it became clear that [Ryan's] proposal wasn’t serious at all. In fact, it was a sick joke.

To Krugman, a plan to eliminate over $6 trillion in deficit spending in the next ten years is a sick joke. As you might imagine, he's far happier with the President's proposal:

And then Mr. Obama laid out a budget plan that really is serious...[T]he vision was right, and the numbers were far more credible than anything in the Ryan sales pitch.

The numbers were far more credible than anything in the Ryan sales pitch? As NewsBusters reported Thursday, there's nothing credible about Obama's numbers because he offered no specifics to back them up. 

Ironically, even Krugman's colleague at the Times, David Brooks, noted the same lack of specificity in his column on this subject Friday:

[Obama] made a sincere call to reduce debt, which will please independents, but he did not specify any tough choices. He called for defense cuts and asked the Pentagon to find some. He called for a reduction in tax credits but didn’t point to any that should actually go. He called for reductions in Medicare costs and asked his board of technocrats to come up with some.

These are exactly the sort of vague but well-intentioned policies that have sold well in election after election.

What's interesting here is that Krugman is supposedly an economist, and such folks typically love to deal with numbers.

But not Krugman. He prefers rhetoric over cold, hard data because it's far easier to advance one's agenda with words rather than facts, and at the moment, the agenda is to support his president at all cost as he attacks the one man in Washington that understands budgets possibly better than anyone in the nation's capital has in many years:

And the hissy fit — I mean, criticism — the Obama plan provoked from Mr. Ryan was deeply revealing, as the man who proposes using budget deficits as an excuse to cut taxes on the rich accused the president of being “partisan.”

Not surprisingly, just as most liberal media members have done since Ryan's plan was unveiled last week, Krugman was being deeply dishonest with this statement. The Ryan plan includes tax reform that positively impacts all Americans, not just the rich.

This built on Ryan's previously proposed "Roadmap for America's Future":

This plan discards a needlessly complex and manipulative tax code, replacing it with a simplified mechanism that promotes work, saving, and investment.

* Provides individual income tax payers a choice of how to pay their taxes – through existing law, or through a highly simplified code that fits on a postcard with just two rates and virtually no special tax deductions, credits, or exclusions (except the health care tax credit).
* Simplifies tax rates to 10 percent on income up to $100,000 for joint filers, and $50,000 for single filers; and 25 percent on taxable income above these amounts. Also includes a generous standard deduction and personal exemption (totaling $39,000 for a family of four).
* Eliminates the alternative minimum tax [AMT].
* Promotes saving by eliminating taxes on interest, capital gains, and dividends; also eliminates the death tax.
* Replaces the corporate income tax – currently the second highest in the industrialized world – with a border-adjustable business consumption tax of 8.5 percent. This new rate is roughly half that of the rest of the industrialized world.

Simplifying the tax code for all Americans was pivotal to the Ryan plan. It was also a key component of the President's own debt commission which earlier this year proposed brackets as low as 8 percent, 14 percent, and 23 percent.

Shills like Krugman have chosen not to report this, for it makes it far easier for them to claim that all Ryan wants to do is cut taxes on the rich.

But for his sins, Krugman wasn't done:

For the contrast between Mr. Ryan last week and Mr. Obama on Wednesday wasn’t just about visions of society. There was also a difference in visions of how the world works...What happened over the past two weeks, then, was more about staking out positions than about enacting policies. On one side you had a combination of mean-spiritedness and fantasy; on the other you had a reaffirmation of American compassion and community, coupled with fairly realistic numbers.

So, by proposing to save Medicare and Medicaid with a plan that also simplifies the tax code while cutting over $6 trillion in red ink, Ryan was mean-spirited. By contrast, calling your opponent's proposal un-American - to his face, no less! - as you outline one of your own without many details is compassionate.

And Krugman has the nerve to wonder why voters are so ill-informed.

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