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Rep. Paul Ryan may come off as “the friendly neighborhood accountant here to help you balance your checkbook,” said Jonathan Chait in Newsweek. But the long-term deficit-reduction plan he’s promoting is based on a single principle: “Hurt the poor and help the rich.” The Republican wonder boy—often touted as “the intellectual leader” of the GOP—is a devotee of Ayn Rand, the libertarian guru who argued that affluent capitalists are “the producers of all wealth,” while blue-collar workers and the poor are “useless parasites.” In deference to his “lodestar,” Ryan wants to cut the top income-tax rate from 35 to 25 percent, thus reducing the burden on the rich, while extracting two thirds of his alleged budget savings from Medicaid, Medicare, college aid for the poor, and food stamps. It’s a blatant attempt to get society’s “losers”—the elderly, the poor, the disabled, and the hungry—off the backs of “the virtuous and the successful.”
Let’s try to talk about this “without summoning the devil to the table,” said Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post. The U.S. has run three consecutive trillion-dollar deficits, with no end in sight. “We can’t continue to live beyond our means,” and Ryan’s “ambitious proposal” acknowledges that reality. Far from radical, his plan is a “gradual and measured solution to our fiscal problems,” said Yuval Levin in The Weekly Standard. Ryan is so concerned with preserving “the health and retirement security of all Americans” that he doesn’t even aim to fully balance the budget until the 2030s. The Democrats, on the other hand, keep defending “an indefensible status quo” that will soon lead to “a disastrous fiscal crisis” like that in Greece.
That’s simply not true, said Ezra Klein in The Washington Post. Democrats do have a plan to address Medicare costs; it’s what Republicans call “Obamacare.” It’s hardly perfect, but the Democrats’ health-care-reform law is designed to actually reduce galloping medical costs by discouraging overtreatment and paying doctors “more to keep people out of the hospital than to treat them once they get in.” The Ryan plan, on the other hand, seeks to shift the burden of rising medical costs from the government to seniors by privatizing Medicare, and giving seniors a fixed sum to buy insurance. As the costs of health care rise, seniors would wind up paying thousands of additional dollars—or do without the care. That may not be evil, but it sure is “morally questionable.”
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