Paul Ryan vs. David Brooks

by Daniel Foster

Paul Ryan has responded to a David Brooks column that had in turn took issue with an op-ed co-written by Ryan and AEI president Arthur Brooks on the decision facing America “between an opportunity society, where the government promotes a vibrant free enterprise system and sturdy safety net v. an expanding social welfare state – one where the government assumes greater control of more sectors of the economy and more aspects of our lives.”

(You can get a flavor of the exchange, with expert color commentary from our very own Reihan Salam, here).

Ryan’s response — a concise defense of his Roadmap for America’s Future — is excellent, as you’d expect. Here’s a taste:

The challenge goes beyond “the current concentration of power in Washington,” which Brooks rightly opposes. For the record, I first introduced A Roadmap for America’s Future when President George W. Bush sat in the Oval Office. The explosion in government spending and overreach has been a bipartisan failure, not for years but for decades. Politicians continued to make promises that simply cannot be kept. But reaping comes after sowing – and we now face a debt so massive that it will cause, sooner than we think, the collapse of our social safety net. Contrary to David Brooks’ assertion, “simply getting government out of the way” is not our prescription to meet our pressing fiscal and economic challenges.

This is certainly not the case made by Arthur Brooks in his book The Battle. Nor is it the case I make in A Roadmap for America’s Future. In fact, our aim is the same one David Brooks says is the aim of millions of voters who are alarmed by the Democrats’ lavish spending: for government to play some positive role in their lives. That is actually what we are after – government playing a positive role, respecting its proper limits.

Let me be specific: I propose to modernize Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security so these critical programs can meet their mission in the 21st century; secure access to universal health coverage where patients and doctors – not government or insurance company bureaucrats – are the nucleus of the system; restructure Federal job training programs of the past century to better prepare our workforce for the challenges in today’s global economy. There are dozens of additional policy reforms in the Roadmap consistent with the mutually reinforcing goals of individual opportunity and income security.

The Roadmap’s reforms are – contrary to the frantic attacks made on it by some of its more partisan critics – fair, gradual, sensible, and aimed specifically to avoid the harsh austerity that will result from maintaining the status quo.

You can read the whole thing here.

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