Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Budget Crush

David Brooks goes all high school crush over Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan.

His proposal will set the standard of seriousness for anybody who wants to play in this discussion. It will become the 2012 Republican platform, no matter who is the nominee. Any candidate hoping to win that nomination will have to be able to talk about government programs with this degree of specificity, so it will improve the G.O.P. primary race.


The Ryan budget doesn’t touch Medicare for anybody over 55, but for younger people it turns it into a defined contribution plan. Instead of assuming open-ended future costs, the government will give you a sum of money (starting at an amount equal to what the government now spends) and a regulated menu of insurance options from which to choose.

The Ryan budget will please governors of both parties by turning Medicaid into a block grant — giving states more flexibility. It tackles agriculture subsidies and other corporate welfare. It consolidates the job-training programs into a single adult scholarship. It reforms housing assistance and food stamps. It dodges Social Security. The Republicans still have no alternative to the Democratic health care reform, but this budget tackles just about every politically risky issue with brio and guts.


Paul Ryan has grasped reality with both hands. He’s forcing everybody else to do the same.

Geez, guys, get a room.

Mr. Brooks’s cohorts are calling this proposal “courageous,” “serious,” and “gutsy.” How about disastrous, cruel, parsimonious, and ill-mannered, starting with killing off Medicare and going from there?

If the Democrats can’t ride this monstrosity all the way home, then they deserve to lose.