The Corner

Re: Krugman’s Ignorance

Rep. Paul Ryan responds to Krugman in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Unfortunately, rather than make meaningful contributions to this conversation and bring solutions to the table, Democrats have attempted to win this debate by default. Relying on demagoguery and distortion, the left would prefer that entitlements – often labeled the “third rail” of American politics – remain untouchable, and the column by Paul Krugman of The New York Times is indicative of the partisan attacks leveled against the plan I’ve offered, a “Roadmap for America’s Future.”

When I introduced the “Roadmap,” my hope was that it would spur an open and honest discussion about how our nation can address its fiscal challenges. If we are truly committed to developing real solutions, this discussion must be free of the inflammatory rhetoric that has derailed past reform efforts. In keeping with this spirit, it is necessary to clarify some of the inaccurate claims and distortions made recently regarding the “Roadmap.”

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.

Robert Costa was formerly the Washington editor for National Review.

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