Let the Real Debate Begin

With Paul Ryan on the Republican ticket, Americans can have a much needed discussion about the size and role of the federal government.

Comments: 232

  1. Ryan "means it" when it comes to eviscerating government as a tool to help the middle class and improve society. He would end Medicare and replace it with inadequate vouchers, thereby causing recipients to pay $6,000 - $13,000 more per year. Ryan would raise taxes on the middle class by up to $2,000 per year. And he would destroy the government's ability to invest in infrastructure, education, and other necessary things.

    But when it comes to reducing the deficit, Ryan is as much if not more of a fraud as virtually every other conservative has been for the past thirty years. The "savings" from all of Ryan's proposed cuts and tax increases wouldn't go to reducing the deficit. Instead, they would go to increasing military spending, and to $4.3 trillion in tax giveaways to millionaires and billionaires. Under Ryan's plan, Romney would have paid less than 1% in taxes in 2010.

    As for the national debt, Ryan's proposal would lead to an increase in the national debt from its 2010 level of 60% of GDP to a peak of nearly 175% by 2050 and remain at 100% or more of GDP through 2080.

    In short, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney aren't offering a serious conversation about deficits. Instead, they are offering the GOP agenda of taking from the middle class to give to the wealthy on steroids.



  2. Medicare was a disastrous mistake (among the many) in 1965 that finally has an end in sight. Eliminating generations of social engineering needs to happen virtually overnight if this nation is going to retain its economic strength and thus, its freedoms. Personal responsibility, not government hand outs (or insurance if you prefer) will lead us out of this better than any dozen stimulus programs. Outside of defense, there really isn't any purpose for government in a capitalist economy.

  3. Dear W.P.,

    Would you be any more in favor of individual block Medicare grants if the amounts were "adequate"? I doubt it. You are one of the spokespersons for the Public Employee's point of view here at the NYT. Nothing that diminishes the number or power of public employees is to your likening. While Public Employees may be part of the middle class they are not "The Middle Class" or even a majority of the middle class. In fact many Public Employees have limited or no participation in ether Social Security or Medicare even though they account for 1 out of 6 of those currently employed. Rather many have their own plans that are almost universally under funded.

    California has two such plans both are under funded to the tune of Tens of Billions of dollars the "Rich" cannot be blamed for this shortfall rather it is the Democrat Governor and Legislature who are to blame and the citizens who will pay for it. This story is repeated in a majority of the other states.

    This is a major part of the Debt Discussion" that needs to be held, a part that the Public Employee Partisans wish to avoid and use "Tax Returns" as their excuse not to talk about solutions.

  4. Richard, your posts are characterized by an inconsistency of thought. This one today is a great example. You chide WP for her denunciation of Ryan's Medicare reform proposals by insinuating that WP would also oppose "adequate" block grants. The term block grants means that the federal government gives the states the money to carry out social programs. It is what Ryan is proposing for Medicaid. You then go on to point out that states are doing a terrible job funding their own health care and retirement programs for their workers. Why then should any of us want the states to take over Medicare and Medicaid, even with some federal support? They have proven they can't do the job.

    There is a reason why the federal government has assumed the responsibilities that in the 19th and early 20th century were the responsibility of the states. The states proved they were incapable or unwilling to provide the adequate funding to meet the needs of their citizens. Remember slavery? It is the best example we have of the failure of states to protect its citizens. It is why we now have a 14th amendment.

    You may not like the federal government, but We The People have decided it does a better job of protecting our rights and caring for our needs that state and local governments.

  5. Paul Ryan got to where he is today by fawning, largely uncritical, media attention. He has big blue eyes, good hair, and appears coherent. He pretends to reach across the aisle, evoking rapture within the centrist cult of Pete Peterson's Third Way. Bill Clinton was overheard asking Ryan to give him a call at one such event last year.

    Ryan only pretends to hate deficits; his phony budget plan would add trillions to the deficit over time, by cutting virtually all programs benefiting regular people, and handsomely rewarding the ultra-rich. Romney, for example, would only pay a fraction of a percentage in taxes under the Ryan plan.

    Other commenters have valiantly compiled lists upon lists of the endless and myriad ways that Ryan is a mendacious cynic. But the media are falling all over themselves chronicling his deprived youth, his "bold" outlook.

    Like all elections, this one will be decided by a relatively small number, who will vote with their guts. Angry people don't have time for facts and figures. And it takes little effort to be riled up even further by the demagogic likes of a Paul Ryan.

    In order to rile up his own base, Obama needs to go full-bore positive Big Government for the Greater Good. And stop referring to Ryan as a "decent guy", because he isn't. The president should forget about the deficit, and wean himself from his own centrism. The last thing we need is another Catfood Commission, another doomsday "grand bargain."


  6. I was amazed to hear Obama bother to say 'decent guy' about Ryan in his speech. Why? He's not decent if he threatens the basic well being of millions of elderly and sick, no matter what charm he turns on. Sociopathic types are often nice and charming. How naive can you be?

    Obama must again be trying to not offend, to make nice, obviously. But for which group? Not the gop base, so it must be the so called independents--who would resent Obama for not making nice to Ryan, while criticizing his ideas? But that sounds strange. I thought Obama was getting tougher. Is he still "an enigma wrapped in a riddle?"

  7. Karen,

    You know that the only "Grater Good" the real Government looks out after is Good of the Government's Employees and only then because of the "Feedback Loop" between the worker unions and the politicans that rule on their compensation. The rest of us are left with the bill as is usual.

  8. That's funny considering where Obama came from and how the media fawned over him. He was a creation, if there ever was one.

    In case you missed it, Paul Ryan actually has budget experience. And if he were to promise "line-by-line" budget checks, as Obama did, I bet we'd get those checks.

    And this is why Paul Ryan is where he is today. Not because of his promises or "vision" but because of his interest in real figures and an ability to do what he says.

  9. Unfortunately, political campaigns are not about having debates on issues or the direction of the country. They are about getting to 50%+1 and winning the election. These are marketing campaign. It is a little like expecting a debate between Pepsi and Coke on the qualities of cola. Or to learn something useful from it if they did.

    " I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so eager to watch a vice-presidential debate."

    Great entertainment, fodder for columns and a little buzz to create audience for advertisers. What more could the media want?

  10. The debates remind me of the investment banking appearances when a company wanted to raise moeny via equity. The people who would gain from the activity would tell you all the "great and wonderful" while reducing any challenges to authenticity as none meaningful or irrelevant. But the reality was that it was a show and not an examination of the real problems and the real issues. ".. is a stage"

    Listen not to what they say but what they do..

  11. This is not at all about, "about the size and role of the federal government."

    The Republicans expanded the size and role of government, and the deficit, and do not propose to roll back any of what they did. This is about what they did, and want to do more of.

    This is about government of, by, and for the rich. An extremely rich guy proposes to take over, with help of billionaires, and then give themselves huge tax breaks and shape the budget for their benefit, all at the expense of everybody else. That is what this is about.

    This is class warfare by the rich, continuing class warfare. They are trying to take us back to the 1890s, a new Gilded Age of staggering inequality of income and assets, and of corporate abuses unchecked by any government actions, all at the expense of the middle class and poor. They mean to wipe out the traditional bases of the Democratic Party, to enrich themselves beyond imagining.

    For them, this economy isn't broken. They are doing well, and they mean to have the rest of it.

  12. Mark: it is about the size of the government. The Republicans expanded it, and Obama took it a huge step further, to the point where he no longer could keep his pledges of reduced deficits or lower unemployment.

    The rich don't matter since we will always have them. They have a way of exerting their control on any government, as witnessed recently by Obama not prosecuting the top management of Goldman Sachs. What matters is the middle class; under Obama more and more of this section dropped down into poverty, and thus on government dole.

    Not good; we can't go on like this.

  13. rimantas, Baltimore, MD:

    The rich don't matter since we will always have them.

    It boggles the mind that the democrats, supposed champions on the middle class, focus so much attention on the rich. They don't need anything. They are set.

    I have to believe that this fixation with the rich is just a ruse to keep everyone from looking at the middle class' fall. That's the real tragedy of this recession.

    Blaming the rich is a wonderful diversion. Too bad it does nothing for the middle class.

  14. @AAC
    You make sense. When the left can't defend their agenda of driving more and more of middle class down into poverty, they have to do something to preserve their self respect. So, they attack the rich.

  15. Pop culture infatuations ( musicals like "The Music Man," the writers Ishmael Reed, Mark Twain; western traveling stage shows, Emmett Kelly's sad clown, Lady Gaga), have always revered America's tradition of high masquerade. It stands beside the American ideal of the self-made man of sober, heroic responsibility. Ryan's selection combines both traditions. It raises the question: Are his policies that of the sober hero, a real life Jimmy Stewart/George Bailey; or are his policies solely within the Uncle Remus tradition of tricksters and western snake oil sales?

    He counts because he puts the first human face on Romney's policies. For the first time, we see Romney's image of a "restored America," until now, mainly slogans and blame.

    In the business of politics, Ryan is a media pick. It's not about serious debate. The sound bite format renders that incapable; so does the roundtable, where his supporter drone on in buzzz words and talking points: a budget "overburdened," the impeding (30 years away!) "bankruptcy," of the health system, the half a loaf is better than none "preserve the system," approach, and empty "we'll-see" promises of supply side failures.

    The media is desparate for a phantom debate; it appeals to their lost vanity, a chance to preen while wearing shreds of fairness. But it avoids the facts (program cuts paying for tax cuts) for call and response. Reality shows are about the masquerade. So with Ryan's pick, is GOP politics.


  16. Exactly right, Walter. And thanks for the shout-out to Ishmael Reed: what he has to say about the media in "The Free-Lance Pallbearers" is appropriate to the discussion here.

  17. to quote another distinguished politcal philosopher, mayor shinn of river city, (perhaps unfairly dismissed in shunting "the music man" from true love to "infatuation"), the debate scam is "as clear as a button hook in well water."

  18. Tom: thanks for picking up on my references. hc: greatly appreciate the keen focus tracking the treatment of inner detail and expanding the story, after my own eye and heart!

  19. I agree that it is appropriate to have the debate about the size and activities of the U.S. government, a debate that the Republican Party-- especially its Tea Party wing-- is forcing.

    With respect to Paul Ryan, he would dismantle most government activities, *including the Social Security and Medicare programs, as they are now carried out:
    --Ryan supported George W. Bush's proposal to privatize Social Security. That proposal never gained support, and a good thing, too. Had Social Security been privatized, many Americans would have lost their retirements in 2008-9.
    --Ryan's Medicare plan would replace the current system with a voucher that senior citizens could use to purchase private health insurance. It has been estimated that the Ryan plan would cost each Medicare-eligible recipient an average of $6400 more per year.

    In both instances, Ryan's reform plans would make the average American less secure. Meanwhile, Ryan enjoys Congressional retirement and health care plans. Where is the fairness there?

    Ironically, the Tea Party rose to prominence on cries of "Don't touch my Medicare!" The Ryan Medicare plan would do more than touch Medicare: it would eviscerate it.

  20. Let's see Ryan's Federal Taxes. Maybe he'll renounce his government salary and benefits.

  21. @ANetliner
    Tea Party always wanted such debate, but it never forced it. On the activities of government in general this debate was already settled in 2010 election. People told everyone how they felt. They repeated their postion in Wisconsin.

    Now Ryan comes with his budget plan, and seemingly it's the left who is giddy about having this debate. By all means let's have it, but don't say anyone forced it on you.

  22. It's become quite apparent that the tea Party was being literal. They want to save it for themselves by taking it away from everyone else, particularly those who are young and those who aren't white.

  23. The number of people who reject the Ryan plan grows as they begin to understand what it does to Medicare. There are many people who will support cuts to Medicare as long as it doesn't touch their Medicare, but that number is not large. So please lets have that debate, and the debate about whether Romney and the rich should be paying less as a parcentage of their income in taxes than a working person,and the debate about whether government can do more to lower unemployment, and whether government can help more with higher education, and the debate about the continuing mortgage crisis and of course the debate about climate change. Lets have those debates please.

  24. The focus for seniors should be on Medicaid. Seniors in nursing homes and extended care facilities account for 80% of Medicaid spending and increases. It isn't the fictitious "welfare queens" that the Tea Party thinks is the problem. Ryan's plan eviscerates Medicaid by sending less money to the states which are already in financial distress. Seniors and their families are going to be shocked into bankruptcy. Ryan may come across as an "intelligent" person, but that doesn't mean he has a clue. He's no expert.

  25. Mark: how do you know that more and more people reject Ryan's plan? Was a poll published we aren't aware of?
    Besides, the cut in Medicare was already made by Obama to help finance Obamacare. Romney/Ryan plan to salvage it.
    Yes, let's have the debate, but between people in the know, not on TV or media or campaign trail.

  26. Perhaps we should also debate why no one has gone to jail for the economic meltdown over the last four years?

  27. That you too, Mr Nocera, are so eager to witness the debates ahead is just great and several of your colleagues and some comments early this morning do too is terrific. Having passed the rather hostile initial reaction to the announcement of the Romney-Ryan ticket in the NYT, it is wonderful that so many have now realized that a good debate will benefit the nation.

    It is disappointing, though certainly not surprising that one of your colleagues, Paul Krugman, is accusing the media of falling into some sort of adoration stupor on the subject of Congressman Ryan, and accuses the media of going to bat for the Romney-Ryan ticket. A remarkable accusation, which it is clear you do not share, most especially since in the 2008 election cycle the media went by a vast majority for the hope and change message then promulgated by President Obama. It is evident that the press may be disillusioned, hope and change have evaporated and it seems that some in the media are now willing to try being even handed once again, as was the case in my youth, more than half a century ago.

    As you stated, there are many people in the country who agree with Congressman Ryan and with Governor Romney. As I have stated many times, between the coasts there are many bright, smart, patriotic Americans who reside in what many of the elite of this country think of as fly over country, and who the elite disparage. The debate may serve to change some minds, even broaden them, as to how many fine Americans think.

  28. I think you need to reread Prof. Krugman's blog article and concentrate on the evidence supporting his accusation. That the same could be said of 2008 may be true, but that does not diminish the current problem as described by Prof. Krugman.
    In spite of all the media hoopla, Mr. Ryan's problem is his duplicitous nature with respect to spending as a Congressman before 2008, after 2008 and what he purports to be "his truth" now. Everyone's fascination with the debates is will be equally divided between how Mr. Ryan (and Mr. Romney for that matter) square current rhetoric with their historical statements, actions and fact (that you Mr. Google and Ms. Internet) and how two different solutions square with the American people. By the way what is Mr. Romney's solution?

  29. All I see is people who put faith over reason demanding more of what obviously does not work. It does not look smart to me.

  30. Your last paragraph Bryan is very well put and to infrequently noted...if we are to succeed as one nation we'd best acknowledge that there are no "flyover" sections of the country.

    Kudo's !

  31. "Plus, I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so eager to watch a vice-presidential debate." [Nocera]

    I can't remember when V-P defined the Presidential candidate either, or when the top of the ticket couldn't clearly define what really he has in mind for the country.

    I too am anxiously waiting for the debates.

  32. "I can't remember when V-P defined the Presidential candidate either"

    How soon they forget: Remember Sarah Palin?

  33. It will be interesting to see the effect of Mr. Ryan's candidacy on the Catholic Bishops. Remember that they chastised him for his war on the poor. I'm sure this puts them in a dillemma, he favors their position on denying women's right to choose and their position on birth control.
    Mr. Ryan needs to also show us his tax returns for the Bush war years as Mr. Romney needs to do.
    We cannot let the diversion of a VP choice make us forget this important issue of tax responsibility, especially during war time, when greater sacrifices are asked of the common person.

  34. "important issue of tax responsibility" Odd. I don't recall any great concern over the tax improprieties.......Oh wait, lets call it what it is,tax cheating,no great concern over the tax cheating of White House staffer,cabinet officers,and other such Dems like Kirk,Daschle,Geithner,Solis,Rangel,Brown,Sebelius, and the list goes on.Why so quiet then?

  35. The clouded minds ever comfortable with conspiracy theories and leader hunt would perhaps never relish any meaningful debate on abstract ideological grounds. The Romney-Ryan duo that always felt uncomfortable with Obama, and sought panacea for the malaise afflicting the US in cutting all essential social spending, except on defense, while bitterly opposing any tax increase for the rich, wouldn't even remember their own prescriptions of cutting the size of federal government and its budget, once they succeed in cutting Obama, their bete noire, to size. So it's futile to expect any ideological shift to the campaign discourse just on the basis of Ryan coming on board of the Romney bandwagon.

  36. Yes but Professor you're safe and secure in India where you probably have a single payer system of healthcare and decent retirement benefits.

    Therefore, you're exempt from this impending trainwreck that may engulf and devour America if Romney and Ryan are elected.

  37. srr510, I may be safe here in India, but equally concerned for my likes there in the US.

  38. Joe, the President doesn't need to engage Ryan and Romney in a debate about their respective budgets. He only needs to have his campaign pay to have David Stockman's OpEd from this morning's NY Times reprinted in every newspaper every week, from now until November.


    Joe, isn't it remarkable that the most persuasive critics of contemporary Republicans policies turn out to be former staffers of the Reagan and Bush 41 Administrations - like Bruce Bartlett and David Stockman?

    Isn't this an indicator of how utterly disconnected from reality contemporary conservatives have become?

    What America needs if ever hopes to address its problems is a return to a spirit of honest, non-ideological non-partisanship, as embodied by figures like Norm Ornstein - as opposed to the kind of "coalition-of-the-bribed" bi-partisanship that appears to have replaced it (and which frankly corrupted the Affordable Care Act).

    In our brave new era of non-stop campaign fundraising and unlimited campaign spending, perhaps every appearance of an American politician on television or radio need be accompanied by an announcement consisting of the phrase "Congressman X's message was brought to you by" followed by a listing of his or her top campaign contributors. At least then a voter would know a bit more about which special interests they were likely to be representing, in lieu of an authentic national interest.

  39. @Matthew - I read Stockton's piece. He makes the same inaccurate descriptions of fiscal sustainability as Ryan. He is just less mean-spirited in his prescriptions. He is just as wrong in his understanding of our monetary system. It is almost more sad, because he and others shape the debate inaccurately. He speaks of difficult policy decisions for cuts so that we can have a sustainable future. Medicare and SS don't need saving. They need funding.

    The deficit doves argue for increased taxes. It is absurd to remove money from a system with weak demand. The hawks argue for spending cuts. It is absurd to think that taxpayer funds and borrowing are necessary for our spending. Neither are correct.

    //so it goes ...

  40. But Americans don't read newspapers. In any other country Romney-Ryan would get about 10% of the vote. We have the most uninformed voters -- not a good sign for a democracy.

  41. For every Op-Ed, there's a competing piece, such as Erskine Bowles' YouTube clip now circulating, in which he praises Paul Ryan.

    And if persuasive criticism involved nothing more than using the words of one's own party's members against the candidate, one could simply trot out the number of democrats who voted for Obama's initial budget.

  42. Do you really believe, given our stalled economy, that a discussion of "visions" is what is needed?

    Quite frankly, President Obama's "vision" is not enough. That's the last thing we need from President Obama, another picture or image of a country that we wish existed. No one does "vision" like Obama. Didn't we learn that last time?

    The problem is that a "vision" doesn't have to take unpleasant actions. It doesn't have to get into the messy details. It doesn't have to do anything, in fact. It just has to create a wonderful space in which Americans believe they can prosper -- as opposed to actually prosper.

    What Americans deserve is not a "vision" of a future but real concrete steps to get there. They want the ladder, not just the loft space with the great view.

  43. Romney and Ryan's vision will keep most of us in the basement with zero chance of even getting to the first floor.

  44. Kevin Rothstein, New York

    Romney and Ryan's vision will keep most of us in the basement with zero chance of even getting to the first floor.

    You don't realize that Obama is selling you an upper floor apartment but no access, jobs. You need the stairs, not just the floor plan.

    Right now, Obama is pitching a "vision". Hopefully, this time you'll demand that he show you how he'll get you there. Sounds like he's hoping things will just go along as they've been going, with incremental improvements punctuated by stalls and/or idling. If that's good enough for you, by all means vote for Obama.

  45. "What Americans deserve is not a "vision" of a future but real concrete steps to get there."

    Exactly. This is what President Obama laid out in his jobs plan last fall. The GOP made sure it went nowhere.

    And what concrete steps has Romney laid out so far? None. When asked on "60 Minutes" if Ryan's budget would be his budget, he said he has his own ideas. But he refused to reveal details. That's been the hallmark of his campaign so far, on virtually every issue.

  46. One wonders what lies behind Ryan's big blue eyes and earnest demeanor. Does he really believe in his budget lies the salvation of the Republic or is he a conscious
    enabler of the American upper class? My own guess is that he has acquired a deep set of believes as a sophomore in college and has never outgrown them, a smart undergraduate devoid of wisdom. He is the Savonarola and Robespierre of the GOP, a fanatic who is convinced of the righteousness of his cause and that those who disagree have lost their way. This is a dangerous man, like all those that are full of righteousness and, if given the reigns of power, capable of doing irreparable harm.
    Hopefully the US has not yet reached the point where somebody like him will be given the means to impose his vision. As a VP he will not have it, but it is possible that he will become the GOP standard bearer if Obama gets reelected and Romney's would be successor if Romney is elected.

  47. "Hopefully the US has not yet reached the point where somebody like him will be given the means to impose his vision."

    Nice thought, but what about G.W.Bush and R. Cheney?

  48. Reducing the deficit without raising taxes one penny on anyone beautifully illustrates how fraudulent Ryan's plan is. How someone as financially illiterate as Ryan can achieve such success only shows how vacuous the Republican Party has become. I want Ryan to explain why he voted for Bush's budgets, unfunded Medicare Rx, two wars, etc. He can't. He's a petty pencil pusher, a bean counter devoid of math skills, a little "Eichmann" carrying out his corporate master's orders. In spite of his choirboy looks and demeanor, in spite of his lovely wife and children, he is a toxic brew of hypocrisy and deceit and we should all be sickened by his ascension to the ticket.

  49. I notice revenue growth doesn't even enter into your argument.

    Have democrats gotten so far away from this concept, that it doesn't even factor into their equations any more?

    At least Romney is interested in revenue growth. Someone in a position of leadership should be.

  50. AAC, your ideas didn't work during the 8 years W. Bush was in office. What on earth makes you think they'd work now when there is the Clinton surplus to squander?

  51. The bottom line is if you become too pure in your ideology the models break down. Neither capitalism nor communism is the most effective economic model. In true capitalism, capital accumulates to the point where there are not enough companies to create competition (too big to fail), and the market base for goods and services shrinks because wealth consolidates in the hands of a few. In true communism, capital cannot accumulate and dynamically move to where there is demand as the market requires. The most effective economies combine the two ideologies to maximize the benefits of both. The argument in this election is; have we swung over to where the socialistic policies are overwhelming the capitalistic ideologies? Or are capitalist policies overwhelming the social ideologies? Based on the recent inequality data, barriers to upward social mobility, lack of affordable health care, the condition of public schools, the cost of universities, and the decaying infrastructure, in my opinion the capitalist policies are overwhelming the socialist policies and they need to be modified to optimize the economy. I can’t see how cutting taxes on the wealthy and cutting social programs can possibly make this country a better place to work and live and leave for our children. Can you?

  52. Don't be so quick to dismiss the Romney tax-return demands. It shows him as having something to hide.

  53. Ryan's plan is NOT to reduce the deficit. It is to use the deficit, and the fear of it, to severely reduce the scope and impact of the federal government. This has been the plan of the right wing conservative movement for a long time.

  54. Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan is a very strange both personally and politically. As a Morman, both Ann and Mitt Romney mentioned publically several times that they don't drink. YET Mr. Romney picked a former professional bartender as his running mate, I am afraid this would ended very badly.

  55. Joe, you are unfortunately Exhibit A to prove Paul Krugman's argument that the real aim of the Romney/Ryan campaign is to fool mainstream journalists into thinking that their budget proposals are reasonable. Krugman has repeatedly exposed the whole thing - citing specific numbers and explaining their implications - as a fraud, yet here you are - with no qualifications in this area - praising Ryan as "smart" and a "wonk" and dignifying the Ryan budget with a seriousness that is an insult to rational, honest debate. The word "debate" implies at least some level of intellectual honesty in each side's presentation of its argument - something that is utterly absent from Ryan and his supporters. Simply put, everything they say about what their budget will do to this country is a lie - a statement that they know is false and by which they intend to deceive people.

  56. "...yet here you are - with no qualifications in this area..."

    AJB, I'm on your side, but I think you're being unfair to Joe. Aren't most of us commentators here without qualifications?

    I may not be a veterinarian, but I know a horse's behind when I see it.

  57. You are right! There will be no debate. Republicans are not interested in a debate. They, unlike Krugman, have done no analysis. Ryan is not capable of analyzing his own budget. This budget is a flag to wave in front of the Republican faithful.

  58. I take your point, Lars, and that line of mine was perhaps unduly personal. What I meant was that, even though most of us are not experts in this field, we should give greater weight to the considered opinions of those who are, rather than to general-interest columnists. In my particular professional field, I have a fair amount of expertise, but whenever I read news coverage in that area, I find myself shaking my head at how wrong journalists get it.

  59. Mr. Ryan an Ayn Rand disciple who puts selfishness as the top quality of a society is like her anti-gay, but unlike her against a woman's right to choose.
    He may have a cute, boyish way about him, but indeed he is a dangerous fanatic both fiscally and socially.

  60. Enough with the Ayn Rand attacks. Before you know it, Obama's mentors, Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright, will be dragged back into the argument.

    If you are honest about Ryan's mentors, look no further than Kemp.

  61. Don’t let Romney’s put the cart before the horse. In 2008 the issue was weather Barak Obama was qualified to serve Ronmey’s campaign raises the same question. Says Obama is somehow not American. To Mitt Obama’s qualifications to lead or serve is more than fair game it’s prime meat. Yet Romney insists that enquiry into his qualifications are beyond the pale. Any suggestion otherwise is dirty politics. Wrong! Mitt’s fitness is not assumed. .

    The basics: Romney is white and arguably Christian, but so was Benedict Arnold. Ronmey is very rich and made millions, but so are David Koch and any number of Wall Street crooks who had every advantage like Mitt. He was the CEO of Bain , but what he did there is off limits. He was a Governor but that subject too is taboo. He wants to talk about Obama whose background known and taxes submitted.

    At least Mitt pays 100% of the taxes he owed. But who says so? Mitt! He ran for Governor and refused to release his returns. His opponents did. This time he gave us one year, 2010.. Promises another. Mitt runs ads with proven lies. Mitt had no problem lying about his taxes in the past or lying about anything else -.he’s king of etch-a-sketch. A red warning flag his been raised. The more he tries to change the subject the more suspicious the public becomes. Regardless of his policies or his VP, no tax returns, no trust. If he’s a tax cheat or a crook he isn’t qualified for office. Ler’s resolve this first.

  62. The idea of going to sdhool and studying hard so you can be a productive member of a high tech company is for the most part an illusion in America, Companies are run as social clubs for the 1%, not businesses. What is really going on with this spining of reality. Why do the Germans have less problems with their system? Where would these guys stand in their social order? Maybe we should wage more war as the solutions?

  63. Germany is a closed shop with unioin members having guaranteed seats on the board of directors. HORRORS--this is "socialism!"

  64. Ideally, Ryan should be the Republican/Tea Party presidential candidate facing President Obama in those debates. Then it would become clear that what Ryan really stands for is further enrichment of the already wealthy and further impoverishment of the poor and the middle-class. As has been pointed out, the Ryan budget plan would cut heavily from programs that aid 99 percent of us but use much of that for tax breaks that would go mostly to the top 1 percent. While vital programs, like the FDA, EPA, Medicare, Medicaid, and college loans would get the ax, the military budget, which is 20 percent of the total budget and a haven for wasteful spending, would be sacrosanct. The amount of actual deficit reduction would not be all that great.

    It comes down to what kind of country do we want: one that looks out for the welfare of the least among us, or one that is of, by, and for the rich, and the rest of us can lump it? The former is what FDR's New Deal brought us during very troubled times, and the Democrats have been instrumental in continuing this effort in Truman's Fair Deal, Kennedy's New Frontier, and Johnson's Great Society. President Obama's Affordable Care Act is the latest addition to this progressive movement.

    The Republicans, on the other hand, want to turn back the clock --- all the way to the 1890's, when the rich were obscenely rich, but ordinary people worked 14 hour days in sweatshops for low pay and no benefits. Do we really want to go back to that?

  65. The debate is not Rich vs Poor. The debate is about sound governance and balancing the free market with the public good, infrastructure and those activities that contribute to homeland security: education, healthcare and environmental safety.
    We need FEMA, FDA, FCC, FBI....we need a shared productivity- not sacrifice. The profit motive does not suit all human endeavors and has clearly failed to control healthcare costs already.
    The Debate is for a sustainable democracy.

  66. Romney, over and over demonstrates his innate weakness.
    Prep school cheerleading.
    Needing a gang to assault one gay kid.
    Walking a legally blind teacher into a closed door. For laughs.
    Dodging the VietNam draft.
    Robbing people of their jobs and pensions with lawyers, bankers and paper.
    None of these things is a demonstration of strength or courage.

    Now, in an act of desparation the Bishop hires his idea of a tough guy.

  67. Joe, you are unfortunately Exhibit A to prove Paul Krugman's argument that the real aim of the Romney/Ryan campaign is to fool mainstream journalists into thinking that their budget proposals are reasonable. Krugman has repeatedly exposed the whole thing - citing specific numbers and explaining their implications - as a fraud, yet here you are - with no qualifications in this area - swallowing the Ryan bait hook, line and sinker, praising Ryan as "smart" and dignifying the Ryan budget with a seriousness that is an insult to rational, honest debate. The word "debate" implies at least some level of intellectual honesty in each side's presentation of its argument - something that is utterly absent from Ryan and his supporters. Simply put, everything they say about what their budget will do to this country is a lie - a statement that they know is false and by which they intend to deceive people.

  68. Exactly. We can no longer shrink from our real split—the size of govt and the rule of law over corporate power. The gop is right wing now, and sees govt as a source of tyranny.

    Their scare tactic is the example of extreme criminality of Soviet communism which too much govt leads to. They define too much govt as Soc Security and Medicare at current levels. Using the slogans of freedom, they’ll lead to a middle class barely surviving on low salaries and meager vouchers for crucial services like health and education. But at least they’ll have ‘freedom’.

    The other side sees govt as a necessity of a modern, democratic civilization. Without economic opportunity, elections mean nothing. The rule of law protect us from the tyranny of a plutocracy. Govt can create launching pads of opportunity for the mass of citizens to have productive, independent, comfortable lives.

    The problem is when elections are financed by big business, grabbing the reins of power. Lawmakers can’t free themselves. Can the Democrats get the courage to state this issue plainly? If they do, will they still get corporate donations for their campaigns? TV ad creators and networks demand fortunes in fees.

    For the current gop team, govt is only a tyranny when it supports the middle/working class having rights of their own. It's not a tyranny when it supports corporate monopoly and power.

  69. If Ryan was serious about the deficit he would not have voted for two unfunded wars and an unfunded Medicare drug program that did not negotiate drug prices, plus the Bush tax cuts and a bailout for the crooks on Wall Street. The wars and the Bush tax cuts that Ryan wants to extend will account for $10 trillion of our debt by 2019.

    The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out that “without the economic downturn and the fiscal policies of the previous administration, the budget would be roughly in balance over the next decade.” To make matters worse, Ryan is proposing $4.6 trillion in new tax cuts.

    The People’s Budget put forth by the Congressional Progressive Caucus reflects the priorities that a majority of Americans support in poll after poll. It's a solid budget that reduces the debt by $5.6 trillion in ten years.

    The CPC plan ends the wars and cuts military spending, creates a public option, negotiates drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies, and strengthens Social Security by eliminating the cap on the payroll tax.

    It lets the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2012, creates new tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires, and establishes a financial speculation tax. And it invests in infrastructure, clean energy, R&D and education. For more: http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=70&sectiontree=5,70

    “It’s much more courageous to propose taxes on the rich and powerful than spending cuts on the poor and disabled.”—The Washington Post

  70. This GOP duo should be asked just who are the real Death Panels. Their vouchers will lead to people dying unnecessarily before their time. A large percent of elderly depend on social security for food and rent. The gop want cruel cuts in crucial life sustaining services which other countries support through taxation spread fairly up to the top.

    The vouchers would always be under financed to further shrink govt and privatize anything that could bring in profit. So R&R and the GOP will be the real death panels. Will the tea party believe what they see? They'll call it something else and lay blame elsewhere.

  71. I have a hard time taking your article seriously when you say that Ryan "means it" (that he will reduce the deficit), when you don't mention the fact that he wants to further decrease taxes for the wealthy. Your tone is similar to Romney's when you dismissively say that Ryan's proposals will mostly impact the poor (does that not matter to you?). And you absurdly state that medicare will not be cut.
    Yes, this election will hopefully be a referendum. And hopefully the good guys that actually care about the issues above will win!

  72. You got your food stamp economy, so rejoice. Hope and Change's best bet is a four year lame duck session without uncle's credit cards. The entitlement gravy train stops next January. Spend it while you can kids. The party is over.

  73. Thanks for the chuckle.

  74. If only we could have a real debate. But we won't.

    o The first step in having a real debate is to acknowledge that there really are services that the government should provide.

    o The second step is to acknowledge that those services don't go entirely (or even primarily) to poor people--who really don't deserve them anyway.

    o The third step is to acknowledge that it costs money to provide those services.

    It is only then that we can have a serious debate about which services we want the government to provide and how much we are willing to pay for them.

    It's hard for me to imagine that the Republicans will allow the debate to reach that stage. Their position is that the government can't do anything useful and that most of what it does is to take money from hard-working citizens and give it to lazy people who don't deserve it--and who are probably not even in the country legally anyway.

    It's hard to have a real debate when one side is not willing to be honest about the issues but prefers to speak through its propaganda machine. Look, for example, at the first thing the Republicans have done since selecting Ryan. They have started to campaign in Florida claiming that Obama is trying to destroy Medicare. For the Republicans to say such a thing is outrageously dishonest in so many ways that I can't begin to explain them here.

    It would be wonderful to have a real debate. But a real debate requires a standard for intellectual honesty that the Republicans simply lack.

  75. Be honest, at least. The democrats are demagoguing Ryan's plan. We all know it. It's the "death panels" all over again.

    The last thing the Obama campaign wants is a real debate, with actual figures, estimates and projections. He'd prefer to have dueling "visions" and competing "images". The more vague, the better.

    The good thing is that the media is getting their first taste of facts from Ryan. They seem to like it. They'll be the ones to force the debate. Little by little the surrogates spouting talking points won't be able to get away with it.

    Let's hope the media rises to the challenge.

  76. Death panels? Who did death panels? The right, of course.

  77. What is laughable is that the FTC cannot sanction politicians for telling lies about their services like it does with consumer goods companies promoting their products and services. Politics is the primary industry in this country that is allowed to lie with abandon and get away with it. What a country!

  78. Pale Ryan, the ventriloquist, will be the bane of Myth Romney, the dummy.

    The only merit or qualifications that either man has ever shown was their wise selection of parents, nation and time of birth.

    Ryan has been dependent on government largesse or employment directly or indirectly all of his adult life Serving and beholden to the lobbyist for the corporate plutocrat oligarch class.

    Romney has been dependent on a corporate plutocrat oligarch welfare queen lobbyists written income tax code and deregulation to make his fortune. A mixture of socialism and corporate statism was what made Bane Capital.

  79. Funny how behind the facade of a conservative one finds a liberal - when it comes to his or her own needs.

  80. Thumbs up on fact-filled debates, preferably laced with Econ 101.

    If Ryan is half the policy wonk the media make him, he can explain how the Government's austerity in bad times, after profligacy good, won't deepen the recession.

  81. hes not even close to half as good as they say he is as a policy wonk, its all smoke and mirrors

  82. The debate about government's (executive and legislative) size and reach is important, but no one can dispute the power of the judicial branch; it requires no funding and it is not going away. Americans aren't so great at visualizing more than 2 or 3 years ahead, but voters must keep the Supreme Court in mind. Robert Bork is Mitt Romney's judicial affairs advisory chairman. For me, that tells the tale of this election day. It's a straight right or left vote for the next 15 years. Let's debate that.

  83. But wait. Ryan has worked for Congress as an aide or representative since college.
    Shouldn't that disqualify him since he has zero business experience and has never held a real job? I guess we should give him a pass because a) he is white; b) he is a real Christian; c) he is white and a Christian.

  84. He's got the one thing that Obama will never have but promised anyway -- line-by-line budget checking experience.

  85. Sure, as long as the cuts come at the expense of the 99.9%.

  86. Kevin RothsteinNew York

    Sure, as long as the cuts come at the expense of the 99.9%.

    It doesn't take a genius to realize that ANY cuts will affect the 99.9%. In fact, every single move, not matter how small, will affect them.

    Why anyone would want a president who focuses on .01% of the population is beyond me? What is this fixation on only a minute portion of the population? It's unhealthy and, more importantly, unproductive.

  87. The notion that the death of his father caused Paul Ryan to become self-reliant early in life is pure myth. According to the NYT puff piece, this meant that he went and got a job at McDonald's at 16. He also became a camp counselor and went canoeing and hiking. Do these writers, Joe Nocera included, have any idea how many millions of teenagers work to earn their own money?

  88. Joe, you have written the same editorial as Roger Cohen. I will have to disagree with your conclusions about Ryan. He is a political hack, a surreptitious intriguer, and a manipulator of the highest magnitude. You want to give him credit for self-reliance, take a look at his tax return. He is a millionaire who married a millionaire. His wealth was inherited, not earned. So the self-reliance moniker is false. (By the way, his inherited wealth did not stop him from accepting the social security death benefit which paid for his college education. Do you think he would extend that same benefit to others?) He has no education, none. He has no graduate degree in economics, public policy, budgeting or anything else. He's a guy that lives down the street who spouts nonsense. Strategically, this pick is inane. It all but removes Florida from the electoral map which means that the pick was forced on Romney. So who will be leading a Romney administration, Romney or the money that bought him the election. This election isn't a debate about public policy, it is a propaganda war which will go to the highest bidder. You said there are many who agree with Ryan. I don't think so. Not by any measure I see. Eighty per cent of Americans oppose any change to Medicare. The 2010 elections were decided by the Supreme Court by virtue of the Citizens United Decision. Most people don't have the faintest idea what Ryan stands for. But they are about to find out, they are about to find out.

  89. Actually, a very good piece. But ...

    You just had to bring up Dubya, didn't you? And as some avatar of a Republican Party that many think is a monolithic sea wall of conservatism. He pushed an expensive (and unaffordable) drug benefit accretion to Medicare, and he took millions off the federal tax rolls. But Dubya was really an evangelical Republican, whom you scratch to find a southern Democrat. So, he's very much an exception to serious Republicans, and not an example of a Republican unwillingness to walk the fiscal walk, as you claim. He won two elections in which the American people looked carefully at the candidates and concluded that he represented the lesser of the available evils. (Actually, they were right, both times.)

    Sorry, but that was my Dubya rant.

    You make the same point about Ryan that I did in a comment to another piece: it forces the conversation to be sharper, sets up a conversation among Americans about who we want to be when we grow up. It's a good argument, and we wouldn't have as substantive an argument if the Mittster hadn't made the gutsy choice he did. Regardless of electoral outcome, we all should thank Romney for forcing this conversation, as it's long overdue.

    Yet you as well as others demean Romney as "not having the skill or the genuine fervor" to conduct the debate himself. But it was he who set it up, insisted that it take place, and picked the best man to spearhead it. That took guts and vision, and it was very presidential.

  90. Romney's choice was absolutely an act of leadership. There's absolutely no chance it will get the recognition it deserves here.

    I suspect this is why Krugman's gotten himself so riled up. A youthful upstart with a positive reputation, a head for facts and figures and the communication skills to express them. That's got to smart.

  91. I strongly disagree about Ryan.

    Ryan is not serious about reducing the deficit. Not when tax cuts are on the table. My plan would be raise taxes a small amount, cut Medicare a small amount and cut Pentagon spending by a larger amount. Then wait a few years and make more adjustments. What can be the objection to that?

    The Ryan plan will not reduce deficits until 2040 or later.

    Ryan and Janesville received lots of $$ from the federal government. He from Social Security when his father died. For Janesville, using earmarks. Now Ryan says he is against this. This is wildly inconsistent, verging on hypocrisy. He needs to explain this. So indeed a debate will be welcome.

  92. So Dubya is really a democrat! That explains a lot! That's why he left such a mess in 2008! It was all lose Democrat policies!

    Let's see: he cut taxes on the wealthy to the lowest levels in 80 years. His administration fought tooth and nail to regulate and oversee Wall Street. His Medicare drug coverage bill forbid the government from negotiating prices as a handout to big pharma (anything good for business must be good for the country). He pushed for more and more defense spending and funding to fight them A-rabs (no connection to Al-qaeda, but plenty of oil in Iraq!). He appointed conservative Alito et al to SCOTUS. He defunded stem cell research. He also pushed for solutions to global warming. These are clearly, clearly democrat positions!

    OK, so he wasn't Reagan, the God of the GOP, who never, ever, ever raised taxes, and left office with a budget surplus.

    When the facts don't fit the vision, create new ones.

  93. Pray, tell me how the Ryan Voucher for the elderly (instead of the traditional Medicare), puts me in charge of my healthcare.

    CAN I, WITH THIS VOUCHER, “NAME MY PRICE” to the Insurance Company, or the doctor or the pharmaceutical company, or the X-ray facility or the lab? The answer is an obvious NO.

    A corollary question is, can Medicare as an entity “name it’s price”, and negotiate prices with all of the above? The answer is an obvious YES.

    ‘Individual Freedom’ and ‘Individual Responsibility’ may be good political slogans. Alluring clichés, but nothing more!

    Folks, the cost of healthcare is the main glitch here.

    The difficulty in addressing this is the COWARDICE of our political leaders. They don’t want to take on these powerful groups, who are actually their pay-masters. Instead they want to pass the risks on to us, as ‘individuals’. This includes some democrats also.

    We citizens need to take a lesson from the Aesop Fable titled, “The Bundle of Sticks”. United we stand, divided we fall. Paul Ryan and his supporters want to divide us into easily broken individual sticks.

    In case you have forgotten the story of “The Bundle of Sticks”, here is the link.


  94. Well, Paul Ryan was busy, so he asked me to answer your question, which is actually quite easily answered.

    His plan for Medicare includes an option for traditional Medicare. Putting aside all the unnecessary demonization, howzzat?

  95. The "depressing spectacle" of the current campaign between the two parties?

    Another instance of an opinion piece creating a false equivalence between the Republicans and the Democrats.

    We know all we need to know of Romney's tax returns?

    We all know that the Republicans have paralyzed any attempt at rebuilding the economy and then blamed Obama for it?

    And this is all just business-as-usual . . .

  96. what's depressing is the talk of "birthers", "the other", The Donald, Sarah P, etc. who argue that Obama is unfit. They have forgotten that Bush 2 and Cheney wrecked the economy and Sec of Tres. Paulson tried to avoid judicial review of the Wall St bailouts.

    What we need are criminal trials of the Wall St and Countrywide executives. NOW!

  97. It's a little hard to understand that you actually wrote and meant this: "Simply dismissing these ideas as crazy is a mistake. There are many people in the country who agree with Ryan"

    Duh? Because so many clinically extremely strange people, otherwise known as Republicans, agree with these ideas, means they aren't crazy?

    They are crazy; his ideas are crazy; if he and Mr. Romney is actually all we have, we are cast adrift in a ship of fools; perhaps we deserve this, but at least it seems to me we should be permitted to describe it as it is.

    And anyway, it's not all we have...

  98. Paul Ryan is not serious.

    He proposes huge spending cuts on just about everything in order to pay for tax cuts for the rich. He just isn't ready to bore us with the details about those cuts. That's for Congress, AKA the House committee led by himself or someone like him, to decide at a later date, presumably after the election when nobody can do anything about it. A truly brave politician would spell out those cuts in advance. But Ryan, let alone Romney, doesn't dare.

    He pretends to assuage the 55+ crowd by saying he would never cut their Medicare or Social Security benefits, even as he cuts $700 billion with no plan for savings other than the miracle of private health plans -- which, lo and behold, cost more than simple Medicare. Does anyone really believe he wouldn't extend his voucher program to Seniors if he needed to do that to achieve his true priorities -- cutting taxes for the super wealthy and reducing the deficit, even though the national debt pales in comparison to our GDP and is far less than the average homeowner's mortgage debt in relation to income?

    The bizarre reality in terms of Medicare is that in 2009-10 the Republicans had a field day inciting Seniors' fears about changes that were never part of the healthcare reform being discussed. Obama and his allies just need to raise the specter of Ryan's cuts to scare the very same Seniors. For Florida as well as Senior-rich states like the rust-belt, that alone will be enough to tip the balance in 2012.

  99. Mr. Nocera can definitely do better; he seems trivial and tendentious! Read his columns on the mortgage related frauds, has he ever talked against the frauds committed by the individuals who were looking to make quick bucs flipping etc. In this column, he is wearing soft-gloves against Ryan-Romney and the Republicans, how can you bring the budget deficits down without touching also the defense budgets. America will do much bettter by being circumpspect in military operations abroad. President Obama needs the second term to restore the country and its economy back to health. As a Republican, I will vote for the President.

  100. Well, as a Republican, I won't be voting for the president. And I don't believe that ANOTHER four years of on-the-job-training will result in any more effective action than resulted from the first four.

  101. I must respond to this comment in the column:

    "The Democrats have demanded that Romney release more of his tax returns — though we already know all we need to know."

    Wow. That is a whopper of a mistaken judgement. We don't know how many more foreign accounts might turn up in Romney's returns, we don't know how many more "corporations" that have little purpose but to avoid taxes he might own or have a share in and we don't know anything about those other years, which might show he's a great guy supporting charities, giving away money to the needed or that he was, and is, only concerned with tending his pile of money and making it bigger.

    What's more, Romney has made taxes central to his campaign, as have the Republicans generally. They argue that the only way the millions of unemployed can ever hope to get minimum wage jobs, or any other type, is if we are ever so kind and ever so thoughtful toward the wealthy and keep cutting their taxes. Romney should have revealed his taxes straight away as an act of courage and transparency.

    Have we gotten so far down the rabbit hole of madness that a presidential candidate with foreign bank accounts should be looked on as something ordinary? In some countries, people are put in jail for keeping huge sums in banks beyond their borders. This is not a time for middling statements about how all business people try to limit their taxes. Romney is not "all" of anything. He wants to be the nation's leader.


  102. I am amazed that you think every company lays off workers or declares bankruptcy so the investors can raid the pension fund. That it is natural. It is not.

    I am an entrepreneur who has started three successful businesses, and I have never ever had to lay off workers. I've taken pay cuts and even gone without pay to retain my employees. I am not rich and this has caused hardship for my family. But it is what successful businessmen do.

    The idea that you can starve the plow horse and eat your seed corn and still expect to reap a harvest is idiotic. Yet this is what bad businessmen do time and again - and then they blame the workers or the poor product they put out when they sowed the seeds of failure themselves.

    I am not an ideologue. I am an independent critical thinker who has voted for both Democrats and Republicans in the past. Yet I cannot fathom a world in which Mitt Romney is proclaimed a successful businessman. Henry Ford, Walt Disney, and Steve Jobs were all successful businessmen. It's time for a reality check.

  103. Add Edwin Land of Polaroid as a successful entrepreneur. Agreed Romney is not--he is a deal maker.

    I fear that Nocera and the MSM "serious persons" are fooled by R&R. SHAME!

  104. The "real debate" on Paul Ryan has to include his extreme views on reproductive freedom - he's against it - and against women's rights in general.

    1. He's in favor of "fetal personhood. He co-sponsored federal personhood legislation called the "Sanctity of Human Life Act." "Personhood" asserts that legally speaking human life begins when the sperm enter the ovum. Never mind that that moment is unknowable, but it would prohibit the use of many kinds of contraceptives, including "the pill" which can prevent pregnancy not only by preventing ovulation but by preventing the implantation of a fertilized ovum in the uterus. In vitro fertilization would also be banned. No IUD's for sure.

    2. Even without "personhood" legislation he's opposed to public funding of contraception or requiring health plans to cover it. Since reproduction, even in the best of circumstances puts a burden on women's health, and sometimes their lives, choice is essential. Needless to say - it benefits men too!

    3. He voted against equal pay for equal work.

    Everyone should have a complete understanding of Ryan's views and what impact they may have on their lives.

  105. Joe, where is your journalistic skepticism? You swallow whole the following narrative: "His personal story — with the death of his father forcing him to become self-reliant early in life — is inspiring." Of course, there's the small matter of Social Security Survivor's Benefits that Ryan and his mother collected. Self reliance is not quite so hard a row to hoe when you are collecting a government "entitlement." My father died when I was 17, and I collected that benefit, too. The difference is that I am NOT advocating draconian cuts in that program, as Ryan is. All that would be necessary to fund Social Security in perpetuity would be to lift the limit on paying into the insurance program, currently only collected on the first $110K of salary. Those earning more can well afford to fund this key program of insurance. Joe, you and your columnist brethren on the Times do a complete disservice by credulously buying into the republican narrative that Social Security is an "entitlement," and that Ryan is an intellect and a deficit hawk. He never met a George W Bush spending spree that he didn't endorse, including the proposed privatization of Social Security of 2006 which, had it happened, would have wiped out millions of retirement accounts by 2008. Ryan is nothing more than an opportunistic flim flam man. You need to take off your man crush goggles and see him for what he really is, not what the spin doctors project.

  106. Opportuntist flim flam man doing his flimflam in our legislative branch of government, how sad and he keeps getting relected. What does that say about people of Wisconsin? He has also increased his income 75% since becoming an elected officials? I think a little more investigation about insider trader and just inside information needs to be investigated.

  107. The selection of Paul Ryan as vice-presidential candidate makes very clear the dichotomy that we face in next election: Robin Hood (Democrats) versus Hobin Rood (Robin Hood in reverse) (Republicans)

  108. YES! And between them, like Jack Sprat and his wife, they are licking the platter clean, feasting on funds borrowed my our great-grandchildren. A pox on the whole lot of them for being a pack of gutless, imaginationless drones, bent only on posturing for the 24-hour news cycles that mean very nearly nothing.

  109. I propose that we reform our defense system through a voucher system. Similar to Ryan's Medicare reform, each citizen would receive a voucher to purchase their own personal defense system. Through the magic of the free market, we could bring the cost of our defense system under control. However, there may be the need for an individual mandate -- lest free riders receive benefit from my wise personal defense decisions.

  110. Mr. Nocera,

    You of all people should know better than to make statements like this:
    "The Democrats have demanded that Romney release more of his tax returns — though we already know all we need to know. (Like every wealthy businessman, Romney works hard to minimize his taxes.) In bashing his role in running Bain Capital, the private-equity firm, the president and his aides have hammered Romney for doing what every company does: outsourcing and layoffs."

    No, EVERY company doesn't do this, almost every company that has a vulture capital firm loading it with debt to reap huge fees and quick returns does though and that is the Bain model. Stop playing the centrist fool your colleague Dr. Krugman calls out, you are better than that, don't play Thomas Friedman.

    Paul Ryan is a fraud and anyone that actually reads his budget and uses a $3.00 calculator to add up his numbers can see that clearly. He gives no specifics about how he will pay for his tax cuts for the .01% aside from gutting the programs most vital to the middle class and the poor. Stop depending on others to "run the numbers" for you. If you must then all you need do is look at the CBO estimates of Ryan''s budget for enlightenment. I usually agree with your considered opinion, but this time you are flat out wrong. Ryan's "budget" is voodoo economics at its best or worse.

    As Erskine Bowles' opinion on Ryan's budget? pfffttt! Bowles-Simpson debt reduction plan was the a collection of the worse ideas from both parties.

  111. Oh yes, such debate would be wonderful, but really it should be done between those in the know, not in the media. A perfect setting would be the House floor, with Ryan on one side and a liberal representative on the other, debating the points calmly with charts and numbers, televised, so that people can listen and make the decision.

    Otherwise the debate on TV, in papers, and on campaign trail will generate into mere noise. Take for example the Tax Policy Center analysis of proposed Romney tax plan. They made assumptions which Romney didn't, proceeded with number crunching, and then reached conclusions unrelated to Romney's plan. Yet, Obama and the left keep repeating this distortion.

    Under such conditions, how can one have an honest debate?

  112. Romney's plan is too vague. So assumptions are needed. Romney can fill in the details.

  113. Bernie Sanders for the liberal representative.

  114. Romney gave so little detail, you have to make some assumptions to analyse his plans.

  115. Joe,

    How exactly are we supposed to have a debate? Will the NY Times fact check extensively all aspects of the Ryan budget and report when there are fabrications? Will the debate actually be concerned with the facts, or will it be like a high school debate, scored by how many semi-coherent statements can be made in the allotted time period?

    How does this country have a real political debate about real issues with real facts? Perhaps you can lay that out for us.

  116. Thanks Davis! Glad that some people are still paying attention!

  117. I don't know why people are calling Paul Ryan a Tea Partier. He isn't. He was elected to Congress in 1998 before the Tea Party movement began. He voted for Bush's increase in Medicare and the wars that drove this country further into debt. Yes, the Tea Party loves him. But why do you think that is? That's because he, like Mitt Romney and so many savvy Republicans, has remade himself to ride a changing tide. Now, he's the candidate who wants to cut budgets (to the benefit of the wealthy and at the expense of the poor). Now, he's got specific details on how to get that done. Does anyone care that this is relatively new territory for Paul Ryan? That he took up this mantra when it was most politically convenient to do so. It's easy to look at a man who seemingly wants to openly discuss ideas and call him charming, but if that charm is thinly concealing something much less genuine, how can it be trusted?

    I know many people, including myself, who could argue any position imaginable and make it seem as if they are truly passion and genuinely behind these ideas. The next day, these people could take up the opposing position and make it seem just as real to them. It's called being rhetorically savvy or skilled. It doesn't account for things like wisdom or sincerity, but it plays great in the swing states. We know Paul Ryan is rhetorically skilled, but we also have evidence that he is not genuine, that he is not wise. Maybe we can't dismiss his "position," but we need to dismiss him

  118. You are probably talking about the debt debate last summer when it looked like the President and the House had an agreement and then Paul Ryan talked to House members and leaders that if they do that it will make the President look better and assure his re election. There went the budget and the US credit standing.

    Now that is not a true deficit hawk or a wise person in charge of the budget.
    He is a political animal that is very deceitful and not who he would like you to think he is.

  119. If he truly believed that the "deficit crisis" need stark action, he would act on the cuts immediately, fully aware that based on baby boomer demographics 85% of the 92 million baby boomers were born prior to 1958.

    So the fact that his plan draws the line at cutting benefits to those currently under 55 shows just how brazenly political it was, avoiding the inevitable backlash at the polls from anyone directly impacted beyond the next two presidential elections.

    These are the actions of a political opportunist, not a "courageously principled legislator as some have claimed.

  120. Every argument you make could also be applied to Barack Obama.

  121. In CBS's interview with Ryan and Romney it seemed to me that there was an error or misstatement in nearly every paragraph.. So i don't see much that's '"likeabie" or much change in the Republican concentration on this line of attack..

    As to his "personal story", he comes from a well-off family. His father, a lawyer, died when Ryan was a teenager. Ryan was able to save, not spend, the Social Security payments he received as a minor child and used them at Miami University in Ohio. He has spent his entire adult life, except for 2 summer jobs and one year working for the family's construction firm, in politics. I don't think we will hear much from him criticizing President Obama's lack of non-political work experience, a favorite Republican theme.

    Paul Krugman and others have shown that Ryan's budget aims are impossible b/c of the tax cuts and the increase in military spending. It just won't work And it's the greatest shift of wealth from the poor and middle class to the already-rich ever.

    Ryan's views on social issues - contraception, Title X, abortion, Planned Parenthood and Title X, LGBT issues, are as far to the right as Rick Santorum's. This may get in the way of rational discussions on the role of government, fiscal issues. etc.

    I hope at the VP debate, Biden, a Catholic, chides Ryan, also a Catholic, about the Catholic Bishops' letters condemning Ryan's budget as not protecting the poor and vulnerable and not meeting "the moral test" for this. . .

  122. Ryan claims he wants to shrink government, though I have not heard attributed to him the concept of drowning the shrunken government in the bathtub.

    Ryan, however, wants to expand government when it comes to women's reproductive freedoms and women's healthcare in general. I've never seen anyone so interested in what's going on in my uterus and the wish to have government investigate it. The personhood bill Ryan offered in the House would do just that. Police my uterus.

    I suppose it would be job security for some, but at the cost of everything women have gained in the last 50 years.

  123. I am almost 57 years old. I do not ever remember seeing the ticket of a major American political party more turned on its head than I have with the newly-formed Ryan-Romney ticket. The sitting president of the United States will be campaigning directly against the vice-presidential nominee of the other party.

    I've seen presidential candidates attempt to take on the reflected glory of a good vice-presidential running mate but I've never seen one actually switch places on the ballot with his own choice for the job.

  124. It's Mitts worst dream. The dog in the cage on top of the car is now driving the car and he looks like Pauli Boy Ryan and Mitty is in the cage.

  125. Mr. Nocera,

    Enough with the entertainment, this is serious stuff.

    Ryan's plan wouldn't make sense at a venture pitch event here in Silicon Valley. The first question an investor would ask is, "How do you reach break even without eliminating 20 million people from Medicaid?"

    There's absolutely no justification for elevating a (yet another) guy whose strength is self-delusion. If you want entertainment, put him on "Shark Tank" and let the people who can actually run a world class government deal by addressing federal budget issues to get people back to work.

  126. 'The first question an investor would ask is, "How do you reach break even without eliminating 20 million people from Medicaid?"'

    Wouldn't you love to see this question asked in the debates in such plain language, and the moderator insist on a real answer?

    Instead I fear the debates will be what they always are: an excuse to answer the question the candidate wants to answer, not what was actually asked.

    We need some fearless souls to participate in the debates and to hold candidates' feet to the fire until they speak plainly. And do it to BOTH sides.

  127. The black and white choice has never been more clear for the voters - in color and in substance. The next 2 month's headlines will determine the debate.

    What should be debatied is what will result from each of the two fundamentally opposing economic theories behind these presidential candidates. The differences are stark and well documented. The Republican R&R ticket is the party of the businessman, free-market-Friedman policies. The Democratic Obama ticket is clearly that of a society based on social values and Keyesnian economics.

    The R&R business model won't work. A business run like a democracy would go bankrupt, and a democracy run like a business would cease to be a democracy. Free market Chicago-school economic policies championed by Milton Friedman have a nasty track record. It is what was applied by Pinochet in Chile and a half dozen other South American countries where unions were disbanded and vast populations suffered horrible consequences. It doesn't remove government, but turns government into a tool of business at the expense of the masses and to the detriment of a country's sovereignty and well being. It rewards those who can climb to the top of the heap and punishes all the rest with what it calls "Trickle Down Economics".

    Keyesnian economics says a country is defined by how its government maintains infrastructure and natural resources, promotes jobs, and by how it cares for and educates its greatest resource - its own citizens. I choose door Nr. 2

  128. Except lame street media owned by the 1% won't give us this debate. They profit handsomely from this dysfunction. They have paid off both sides and now our so called free press is in the hands of just a few in print, tv, and radio.

    We the people will not get a good analysis of the two choices.

  129. Thanks to Joe Nocera for this commentary.

    One thing that I know won't ever be brought up in any political discussion about federal spending or entitlement reform is the way in which many programs - particularly those intended for individuals or families below the poverty line -are just as much subsidies to private business enterprises as they are to households.

    For example, my state will partly pay a poor household's utility bills - phone and gas and electricity - and even part of its cable tv bill.

    On the federal level, the Medicare Part D prescription program can be seen as a generous underwriting of the pharmaceutical industry..

    Likewise, Obamacare guarantees insurance industry profits.

    Those programs can be sharply distinguished from programs like Social Security or Medicaid which make cash payments to poor heads of households, and from Food Stamps, which is a kind of electronic scrip which enables eligible heads of households to buy food or beverages for the most part just as they would do so with cash or check. .

    Rather, those other programs make their payments - in the name of the head of household, it's true - directly to the relevant utility company, cable tv company, or pharmaceutical company.

    The most powerful constituencies who will stop any attempt at curtailing the size of these federal progams will come from corporate America.

    And that's a reality that will never come up in our current "un-reality-based" political discourse here in the U.S.

  130. A correction to this earlier message of August 14, 2012 at 9:27 a.m..

    I originally wrote: "Those programs can be sharply distinguished from programs like Social Security or Medicaid which make cash payments to poor heads of households, and from Food Stamps, which is a kind of electronic scrip which enables eligible heads of households to buy food or beverages for the most part just as they would do so with cash or check. ."

    But I meant to write:

    "Those programs can be sharply distinguished from programs like Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (also known as S.S.I.) which make cash payments to poor heads of households...."

    Medicaid is of course, not a program which makes direct cash payments to households. It is a federally funded program for people below the poverty line or near it, and its payments are made, as with Medicare, directly to healthcare providers.

  131. Americans are so sqeezed by and entrapped by their own self created cultural mess, they can't wrest themselves free in order to live their own lives.

    Yes, America's cultural decline cannot be blamed solely on inept government or hapless politicians...the responsibility must be shared by all adult Americans who bought into supporting incessant wars, a violent gun culture, and the seduction of greed as a way of life.

    The chickens have come home to roost for all Americans, and all the presidential candidates have to offer are the laying of more rotten eggs!

  132. And things in France are running so very smoothly? You know what they say about people who live in glass houses don't ya?

  133. If the following is true, the Democrats need to stop being just Democrats, and also be the caring Americans that they are, as all citizens all should be. This is not 2008. It is not 2010. There is much desperation. It is not a time to rejoice at the demise of another. The woes of the economy and austerity, health care, add the heat, the drought, the violent gun shots, the family break-ups, the suicides (I heard of 3 stories today, 2 in Utah, and even one was of the same religious faith as that of the GOP presidential candidate). A credit binge of the past may have had a lingering power of opulence over the middle class in 2008 & in 2010, but not anymore. I don't think it's no longer just a credit-based waiting game. The desperation is worse in many core GOP country. Trust and faith are one of the same there, if there's much else left. Bringing Ryan on board energizes a larger share of the pie of the same religious faith, and most pronounced in the youth groups. People stop listening when they are most volatile. Having that said, it is also a time when the middle class is most informed and more united.

  134. I'm in fact all for Romney's VP pick in the sense that it would bring discussion and light to the philosophical and budgetary priorities of the two parties, but this is a bit much:

    "[Ryan] is the rare politician who has been willing to put meat on the bones so that everybody can see what he has in mind."

    His budget requires major use of magic fairie dust to close the deficit, which is odd for a budget hawk, and he won't say where he'll get it. Also odd for a deficit hawk: he voted for the Bush tax cuts and two unbudgeted wars. Odder still for a deficit hawk: he wants to double down on the policies that blew up the deficit and crashed the economy. And people take him seriously?

  135. Paul Ryan voted for all of George W Bush's budget busting proposals -- unfunded wars, Medicare Part D, TARP, and the trillion-plus-dollar tax give-aways to the Mitt Romneys of America. He is as phony a deficit hawk as they come.

    Ryan, like the current Republican majority, wants less to 'shrink government' (no Republican President or Congress has genuinely pushed to do so since at least Eisenhower) than to avoid governance. These are not the same things. They want the power to give as much away as possible to the Americans who need it least and leave the rest to forage on the scraps. It is Social Darwinism masquerading as governance, greed marketed as growth, cruelty sold as the encouragement of 'self-reliance'.

    By all means, let's have a full throated debate. The brutal ideas these avaricious small minded charlatans peddle need the full sunlight. Only then can a once great nation hope to be disinfected of them for good.

  136. You have it exactly right. To say Ryan "means it" is to totally ignore his voting record.

  137. You see, he was for the deficit before he was against it.

  138. There will be no debate. Republicans are not interested in a debate about their proposed program. There is no proposed program other than Mr. Ryan's budget proposal which was found unrealistic in its projections and devastating to Social Security and Medicare, two programs near and dear to most Americans. So, the debate will consist of Mssrs. R&R crying for smaller government but offering no details.

  139. There will be no debate because we have no moderators who worked for the 1% controlled media which is not a free press working for the interest of the people even though their license states that they should be open and free. The media is owned fully by maybe six people all print, tv, and radio. They like the status quo and they like this dysfunction as it adds to their bottom line these ads flying back and forth. Raking in billions.

  140. Joe, Go back and read Ryan's budget in detail and you will discover that he is neither "wonkish" nor is he "smart".The numbers are nonsense. Ryan is cunning and divisive.Your colleague on the Times,Paul Krugman, understands that Romney picked Ryan because he can manipulate the pundits. He can distort the facts with a serious look on his face.....good TV personality.

    You say that he is the real thing. Go back and look at his voting record regarding deficit spending. He voted for both the unfunded Medicare part D bill and, even more curiously, supported Bush's STIMULUS bill in 2006. Yes ,there was a stimulus bill during the Bush years and guess who supported it. This guy is not the real thing at all. Ron Paul is the real thing and he would never have a shot at the vice presidency.

    Someone recently described him as the "business agent for billionaires" .This is the real Paul Ryan...this is the real thing. Don't be taken in by his nonsense numbers. Ask your pal Bethany McClean to take a look at the "Ryan Budget".I would be interested in her analysis.

  141. I laugh at all the talk of having a "serious conversation".
    Are you kidding? With whom?

  142. Read your colleague, Frank Bruni, he has it EXACTLY right.

  143. Or your colleague Paul Krugman.

  144. Didn't Ryan ever read Hobbes in school? Every known society has some form of collective cooperation for the common good. The idea that all resources are allocated to the individual is perhaps fine for isolated Eskimos or Sami who live far away from neighbors and must be self sufficient because of their extreme geographical situation, but at some point there has to be regulation and distribution of resources to ensure benefits to all. It is 3rd grade civics that an economic system as well as social order depends on social interdependence.

    Look at wealthy, isolated communities like Princeton, NJ; Atherton, CA; Shaker Heights, OH. There are no plumbers, no electricians, in short, no service personnel living there because people making even good working wages can't afford it. Their police and teachers have to commute from huge distances because they can't be housed in their communities.

    So, imagine this scenario projected throughout the United States. In Ryan's world the rich become estranged even further from the support structures that allow them to live their privileged lives, and the poor and middle class are left with the dregs of infrastructure. There are places in the world that are exactly like this. Pakistan or Turkey--where the rich live in gated communities with their own electric generators, servants to do the handiwork, private schools or tutors for their children and limousines to save them the bother of worrying about lack of transport. Is this our future?

  145. I fear the future of this country will look exactly like Pakistan or Turkey. The social contract between the rich and poor of a society was first laid out in the Code of Hammurabi nearly 3,800 years ago. Now, it is being torn apart, and we will all suffer both intended and unintended consequences. One of those unintended consequences has, in history, been violent revolution. For how long will the gates hold out the masses?

  146. Don't have to go that far-try Texas

  147. Your suggestion that Ryan "means it" with regard to shrinking the size of the federal government is belied by his crucial, deciding vote for the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit when it was totally unfunded and his votes for two unfunded wars. He supported huge expansions of government..

    Put those votes together with his votes for the unfunded Bush tax cuts, and he can be credited with having supported the explosion of the deficit. And his fealty to no tax increases of any time made him a a saboteur of the Grand Bargain on deficit reduction.

    His "self reliance" was easy when he was supported not only by substantial family wealth, but also by Social Security paymens to help pay for college.

    And his radical personhood view of choice and contraception would not only put government in every bedroom, but also woiuld deny women the ability to be self-reliant.

    Ryan's record is big governement, big deficits, and make the rich richer. He is curous messenger for a national debate on the role of government.

  148. Joe you state...."Like every wealthy businessman, Romney works hard to minimize his taxes.) "..... It has been my experience that everyone who files a tax return tries to minimize their tax liability. I would even venture a guess that you have engaged in this activity several times in your life. If the wealthy are labeled "bad" for that activity, what does it say about you?

    And, Joe, as Will Rogers once said...." never had a poor man offer me a job"..... Also Joe, your implication of fair share fails to address the fact that 47 % of the federal tax payers paid ZERO, NADA, ZILCH taxes for 2011. But the so called wealthy represent about 3%...........so go figure!

  149. I guess you've figured out how to get blood from a stone?

  150. Facts are funny things. No one paid "nada, zero, zilch in 2011" except, perhaps, for the top tier who can afford teams of accountants and lawyers to get them through every loop hole possible. The 47% you refer to may not have paid any federal income tax, but a larger portion of their income goes to taxes like sales, social security, medicare, gasoline excise, etc. Just how much more blood to you expect to get out of a stone?

  151. @Bill Sallee: Those 47% are low income earners like students, small office secretaries, etc.; their incomes were so low that they did not need to pay federal income tax. But many of them paid their fair share of payroll taxes. They may have also paid other local taxes. So how much more do you want these poor income people to pay?

  152. I would much rather see a Biden - Romney debate (the proxies) and a Obama - Ryan debate (the real stuff). Petition anyone?

  153. Ryan is not serious. He, like Romney, won't specify which "loopholes" he'd eliminate to balance his big tax cuts. To make the numbers work he'd have to eliminate the mortgage interest tax deduction. Seriously, does anyone think that's politically possible?

  154. Psst....shhh... the loopholes are secret because only the wealthy know about them. Just imagine if ordinary regular folks knew about these loopholes, our treasury would go bankrupt because the poor, middle class would not pay the high taxes they pay now to the benefit of the wealthy. Romney Hood says it all, its true.

  155. Instead of "death panels" for seniors, one way that the Republican Medicare/ Medicaid reform might generate additional cost savings would be to effectively reducing the average life expectancy for all age groups. The intent of the reforms is to " economize" the use of health care by raising the marginal cost of paying for medical care for individuals with poorer than average health, and those with chronic illness that require ongoing treatment would be hit the hardest. At the same time, changing the annual premium one would have to pay would be unlikely to have any impact on those huge medical bills many patients racked up in their last several months of their lives.

  156. Right Elizabeth and they could reduce the life expectancy by programs they're already working on- they don't want food inspected- they don't want
    research proving drugs are safe before they're marketed- and the best Republican method to reduce life expectancy- more wars.

  157. Elizabeth,

    You've missed the the point of the Republican plan, I think. They have no need for "death panels." It is their hope that people with chronic illness will die before they become seniors or die quickly if they are seniors. After all, the vouchers they propose will not pay for any kind of comprehensive care in the insurance market and insurers would still be able to deny pre-exisiting conditions.

    See how long you live with cancer when you have no insurance. It's already happening now with obscene numbers of people dying who did not get the care they needed because they didn't have insurance.

    Besides, Ayn Rand Ryan proposes we all die under bridges so as not to trouble the rich. There will be no medical bills for those who do not have insurance. There will be no Medicaid if it is left to the states. Medicare is nothing but an empty promise if these people have their way.

  158. I'm starting to become annoyed with pundits who apparently can't read. There has been a lot published about Paul Ryan's budget and Romney's wriggling and evasions speak for themselves.

    This isn't a "grown up discussion about the size and role of government."

    It's more like this: rich and powerful men who want to be more rich and powerful are figuring out how to beat up people who can't fight back. On their side they have Citizen's United, billionaires representing industries who stand to win big if the US government is weakened, for example, "the job killing EPA," yet I'll bet they will still expect subsidies to oil corporations and untold riches to "defense," and of course the insurance industry would be ecstatic to get more "vouchers" from elderly people who can't even see too well let alone navigate shark tanks aka the insurance industry. And of by the way if you're sick that's too bad because these vouchers are for a fixed amount.

    I am starting to get mad about this, about the fact that certain journalists both in the press and on the tube can't seem to see what's wrong with this picture, and for once, instead of parsing their words or trying to figure an angle or be Fair And Balanced, fight for the people of this country.

  159. And you think the "ordinary" man or woman will pay attention to such a debate? Ha! Keep on wishing, Joe. Get out here and discover the over simplified, boiled down to nothing coverage combined with the refusal of many, even educated ones, to read beyond the sound bites or headlines! You and I and other readers of papers like the Times, yes, but the hoi polloi? Lots of luck!

  160. Is debt bad? How do we restrain the growth of entitlements? Are people who pay taxes stealing from someone else if they can keep more money than before? Do unborn children have rights? Should anybody, anytime, anywhere be able to nonviolently express a opinion in the USA? Does the ability of employers to fire at will ensure more productivity? Would bad people keep doing bad things if good people did not force them to stop?

    In a democracy YOU give conservatives (economic liberals, social conservatives) power by denying the underlying basic truths behind the obvious answers to simple questions such as these.

  161. I would say that your talk of "basic truths behind the obvious answers" is what scares me as an independent. What I hear is "Liberals have closed minds."

    They regard some things as obvious when they need to be debated and when the best answer is not "obvious" but lies somewhere between the liberals and the libertarians.

  162. Equity is sweet. If you have it, you have staying power.

  163. On one side of this election are those who think all government taxation for social programs is a form of theft, practically organized crime. This Ayn Rand wing of conservatism(or libertarianism or objectivism) believes that no one should be taxed to provide for anything but law enforcement and defense. There are no other legitimate government functions. They are not trying to end deficits, though they proclaim this is about fiscal policy.. They want to end the social safety net. because they are against it in principle. They believe that any one who benefit from social programs is a slacker and unamerican. Rep. Ryan is the flag carrier for this view. Mitt Romney is an opportunist who hopes to ride to the whitehouse on Ryan's horse.

    The other side, wants to subsidize far more than those items already covered by the social safety net. For sure they would like to further subsidize higher education. They would like to provide free unlimited health care and assure a comfortable retirement for all. They would indulge industrial policy that will put us on a non-fossil energy path. There will be more if they win big. Their lie is that all this can be financed with higher taxes on the wealthy.

    I will vote for the liberal side because their excesses can be mitigated by conservatism. They excesses of conservatism will not be so easily contained and will result in great social malfunction if they win.

    Melvyn Polatchek

  164. Thus we cannot use government to boost money velocity, which is the way out of all recessions.

  165. "Simply dismissing these ideas as crazy is a mistake. There are many people in the country who agree with Ryan — as they showed two years ago, when they elected 87 Republican freshmen, many of them Tea Party-backed political novices, to the House of Representatives, who went to Washington vowing to shrink the federal government."

    Correction: the Republicans ran in good part on a "jobs, jobs, jobs" platform, which fooled a lot of people into voting for them. Voters didn't sign on for destroying Medicare/Social Security, trashing education and vital services, and essentially only letting government handle the military.

  166. Great column. But I don't want to think hard about the kind of government I want. I want what we've had for the last 236 years -- a democracy. Not an oligarchy.

    I visited NYC for the first time in 2010, and of course the highlight of my trip was the Lady and Ellis Island. What happened to 'Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free?" Romney and Ryan don't like the huddled masses. They want to deport the huddled masses. They're telling the poor and tired they are lazy. And with the help of Scalia (who let's face it, is really running the Court) and big city PDs, freedom has taken on a new and twisted meaning. "You're free, but we shake you down if your skin is brown."

    I don't like how we're morphing, it's ugly.

  167. There has never been an honest debate about "the role of government" and probably never will be. Government has not shrunk under Republican administrations, but deficits have grown. The Republican claims to want to reduce deficits and to shrink government are simply lies; their real objectives are to reduce taxes on rich people, facilitate big finance and big business and otherwise to do what it takes to get elected. Republicans are only concerned about deficits during Democratic administrations, and if Romney is elected the "debate" about deficits will probably disappear.

    Does a writer with the experience of Nocera really believe in these pseudo-ideological claims of politicians?

  168. While ideally it would be nice to finally have this debate and a referendum (i.e the election) on the issues, I think that is overly optimistic. The country is too evenly divided to encourage either party to stick to the issues.

    The media specialists and toothpaste salesmen will continue to attempt to rally the base by manipulating the campaign to get their people mad or scared enough to vote. Whichever party gets in will own the economy for the next four years; if its a disaster that party will wander in the wilderness for decades and if the economy improves the other party will be re-branding.

    Nobody said democracy was easy or efficient. One of the problem is that the majority get the government they deserve.

  169. An optimistic take on the campaigns for president (and VP); maybe overly so. There’s little reason to expect a serious debate about anything important, given some of the candidates’ disinclination to be specific about anything at all (other than supporting American exceptionalism in a loud voice and threatening Russia and China) and the long history of campaigns, exemplified by “Willie Horton” and the young lady with the daisy.

    So the likelihood is a “bumper sticker” debate; short and memorable takes without any substance and without regard to the truth, as we’ve already seen. Two examples, only. “I’m going to grow small businesses so they’ll create good jobs with good pay.” How? “I’m going to fix Medicare with vouchers (in about 15 years).” If you can fool all (or enough) of the people . . . .

    In other words, the campaigns will resemble (again) a campaign to increase market share in the markets for laundry detergent or pickup trucks, e.g., “ring around the collar,” and “Ram tough.”

  170. And another thing:
    I'd truly like to see a very frank debate on the moral implications of either party's agenda. The Bible references looking out for the poor a noticeable number of times while, conversely, it cautions us how difficult it can be for a rich man to pass into the kingdom of Heaven being equatable to a camel passing through the eye of a needle.
    I'd like to hear a moderator in a coming debate ask a pointed question regarding the overall morality of either party's agenda and how either party can point to policies they pushed for reflecting their morality and intent.

  171. I would like to see the imaginary God people create in their own image entirely shut out of the negotiation of our social contract.

  172. @dannomusic43:
    Debate on the "moral implications" is almost impossible since the elected leaders weren't elected to make decisions on morality. But we can have a debate on budgets and numbers and how best to create and spend our wealth in the future. As I hear it, Ryan is waiting for open and calm arguments.

    If such calm debate doesn't materialize, people will have to decide whom they trust more: Ryan or the liberal media. Judging by the elections in 2010 and the recent one in Wisconsin, the media may turn out to be loser.

  173. The solution to the SS and medicare problem is really easy, one sentence ." On January 1st 2014 the FICA and Medicare tax will apply to every dollar earned". .......

  174. ''we need to have [the debate] openly, and nationally — rather than having the shrink-the-government movement conducted as a kind of guerrilla warfare, carried out in lightning strikes like the debt-ceiling crisis.''

    Based upon my observation of the tea-party's past "destruction of the country is a price we are willing to pay to achieve our agenda" attitude, I am convinced if the Republican party looses the upcoming election, the tea-party's will nevertheless continue to categorically refuse to accept any compromise whatsoever.

  175. Mr Nocera - I find it bizarre that Paul Ryan, he of the Medicare Part D plan, is now touting himself, and being touted as, a fiscally-responsible politician.

    Fiscally reprehensible is more like it.

    According to the Medicare Office of the Actuary, the ultimate liability of Ryan's Part D plan, a plan passed by the GOP after they suspended PAYGO rules, is now $19 trillion.

    Not $300 billion; $19 trillion.

    And where, pray tell, is Mr Ryan's "leadership"? Is he calling for lower prices for Part D drugs (using government buying power would cut the cost of the program by $20 billion a year)? Is he advocating lower benefits or higher contributions? Is he regretting his budget-busting bill, passed to help his party retain the Presidency and legislative power?

    Of course not.

  176. As a nation, we are spending more on defense than the next umpteen nations combined. Although deficits don't matter for Republicans, the next umpteen nations are very happy that they don't have to pay for defense because we pay for theirs!

    The debate you want to happen never will. Mainly because Americans are exceptionally stupid about the first two sentences I've written, and don't really want to think about it.

    Instead, the complicit American media wants sound bytes, like: Grandma will be poor and dead OR we can't afford 'entitlements' (code for poor people are lazy).

    Yes, the American media are creating a monster, not a Democracy, because they (you) believe both sides, even the side that lies that it cares about deficits but doesn't, should have equal standing to make its argument. It should not. Crooks (OK, tax felons) must not be permitted equal footing with responsible persons. Even if the media thinks so.

  177. We cannot possibly spend enough on defense to give a sense of security to America's spoiled little Godbrat babies, notwithstanding their alleged belief that the being they created in their own image won't let them destroy themselves and the rest of us with them.

  178. Bert: I agree with much of what you say with two exceptions: BOTH sides lie. All the politicians care about is getting elected and re-elected. Don't fool yourself into thinking either party cares about much else.

    And 2.) Americans do care about the defense spending which is much too high. Let's start by closing 1/3 of the military bases and getting ourselves out of other people's wars. Question is: who in either party is trying to do that?

  179. "There are many people in the country who agree with Ryan."

    Sure there are. And almost as many don't fully understand how dramatically his plan to slash both spending and taxes would affect their lives. Reasonable people can have a debate about the size and scope of government. But Mr. Ryan's plan is so extreme and unfair that his proposals would take the debate to a new place--as Newt Gingrich accurately said (before he had to back away) it becomes a discussion about "social engineering." If he and Mitt Romney were willing to have an honest conversation, we'd see how badly the poor and middle class would suffer as a result of cutting government from 24% to 20% of GDP. But don't count on honesty in the midst of a campaign. Mr. Ryan's ideas aren't crazy. They're mean.

  180. Take it from someone who is always in the 6%. The number of people who share your beliefs is no measure of their validity.

  181. @NA
    Ryan's ideas are neither mean nor crazy. They are an intelligent and honest plan how to fix our finances, at least partially, so that we can continue prospering and yes, taking care of the poor of the future. Many people agree with him, and perhaps many more will further down in the campaign. Is that what the liberals are afraid of?

    But let's have that debate.

  182. Even after all the countless lessons in this often repeated scenario, so many people are so easily duped by the dulcet tones and the earnest soul searching eyes.
    Yes, the same can be said of President Obama regarding the looks and the charm I suppose, except that Mr. Obama isn't trying to eviscerate the already marginalized. Both men seem to be the crystallized embodiments of what we're duping ourselves into believing is leadership. Leadership has been hijacked and corrupted by the uber rich though and all of this is mere masquerade as a poor substitute for any semblance of authenticity.
    Mr. Ryan's likability factor creeps me right out; President Obama's doesn't.
    Paul Ryan must really care about America! He's even prepared to sacrifice the many for the sake of the merit-worthy few! That'll get America back on track!
    Um...wait though, you mean I'm NOT going to be saved along with the already saved special people? But Ayn Rand was my second cousin twice removed!
    And what does being on your own truly mean in a post-2012 America?
    I need a functioning and morally responsible government in my life.
    If you don't, then go start your own country.
    Might I suggest Antarctica or--even better--the North Pole.

    Please stop plundering our nation and please stop plundering this precious living planet that we are only but temporary stewards of.
    We are all in this together.
    Conservatives, by nature, do not embrace this sentiment though.
    Therein lies the ultimate arbiter of your vote.

  183. We do not have leaders. We have idolators.

  184. Debate! Debate! Debate! Oh by all means let's have that "meaningful" discussion about America's future finances followed by more pointless debates!!!

    What's to debate????? The dynamic duo of Batman Romney and the Boy Wonder Ryan are determined to fulfill the Republican dream of obliterating Medicare and Social Security once and for all!!!! Regardless of your political persuasion if you're between the ages of 50-60 you just cannot vote for this vile Nightmare ticket. End of story!!! We burned out wouldbe seniors approaching retirement age just cannot elect Romney as the 45th president because we'd be fighting for our lives!!!

    I believe that should take care of any absurd debate!!!

  185. he will spare those already on soc. sec. and medicare to get their votes, it's those under 55 who will suffer, and eventually there will be neither program and a majority of the elderly will again fall into poverty.

  186. Um, didn't Ryan vote for that budget-busting unfunded prescription drug benefit and those two budget-busting unfunded wars? Are we supposed to pretend his actual votes don't matter because he has some hidden secret plan (details to follow, presumably) to cut the deficit?

  187. he also voted for TARP

  188. I bet Ryan has had all sorts of inside trading gifts from the pharmaceuticals industry.

  189. Ryan claims he was being a good team player under Bush-- and he is now Free to do the Right thing....feeling his oats.
    Giving a smart zealot the steering wheel (Romney has outsourced the presidency!) is disastrous.

  190. The public debate on the economy is misinformed. The U.S. economy has 3 parts. There is a government sector, a private domestic sector, and the export/import balance. The government sector creates money and the other two earn, save, spend, and invest it. The government sector spending is exactly equal to the combined private sector income.

    If we try to have the government sector take in (destroy) more money than it spends, then the private sector must go negative (into debt.) The Clinton surplus put us onto a private sector debt trajectory. The expansion was fueled by private sector debt. Then things fell apart.

    There are economists that describe our economy accurately. Greg Mankiw, Pete Peterson, and Larry Summers are no in that group. So, on one hand we have the President using Summer's erroneous vision and on the other we have Romney using Mankiw's flawed understanding. We the people are stuck in the middle with no policy levers. And the press is failing us by refusing to challenge the conventional wisdom (actual lack of wisdom.)

    //so it goes ...

  191. The government does not destroy money. It is a money-pump. Taxation and spending boosts money velocity.

    "Stupid" is too kind a description of your America.

  192. It's very painful every time I hear the term "shared sacrifice" from Washington.

    Until the Bush recession hit, my friend and her husband who are both 62 had a very small but successful prosthetic business. He has a PhD in his field. The business hasn't provided enough of an income for for them for the past three years and now their home is in foreclosure.

    Two weeks ago, my friend became ill, but refused to seek medical care because they had given up their health insurance. After two days the pain forced her to the emergency room. Her appendix had ruptured.

    Less than twenty-four hours later she was at home recuperating and thankful to be alive, but crying because neither of them know how they're going to pay the Forty Thousand Dollar medical bill for her surgery.

    These are wonderful people who worked hard, saved and planned ahead, but have been eviscerated financially by the collapse of the economy.

    I would like someone inside the Beltway to explain to me how my friends are supposed to "share the sacrifice".

  193. I'm sorry, but we are at least 10 years, and probably more like 40 years, too late to debate the "size of government" issue. What we demand is a solution to perpetual 8%-plus unemployment.

    Even the right wing agrees that significant cuts in defense spending will stall the economy. So let's make them eat their words, and jump start employment with a couple of trillion dollars, borrowed at zero percent interest right now. Let's build a reliable and safe network of high-speed passenger rail for our population centers, repair and rebuild crumbling highways and bridges, expand smart grid and develop micro-grid solutions, and deliver reliable broadband to every nook and cranny (as we did with electricity through the REA).

    Any other debate at this point in our history is simply kowtowing to the "fair and balanced" crowd.

  194. A correction to an earlier message of mine which I sent to this comment board.

    I had written:

    "Those programs can be sharply distinguished from programs like Social Security or Medicaid which make cash payments to poor heads of households, and from Food Stamps, which is a kind of electronic scrip which enables eligible heads of households to buy food or beverages for the most part just as they would do so with cash or check. ."

    But I meant to write:

    "Those programs can be sharply distinguished from programs like Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (also known as S.S.I.) which make cash payments to poor heads of households...."

    Medicaid is of course, not a program which makes direct cash payments to households. It is a federally funded program for people below the poverty line or near it, and its payments are made, as with Medicare, directly to healthcare providers.

  195. Not you too Joe.

    "What sets him [Ryan] apart is that he is the rare politician who has been willing to put meat on the bones so that everybody can see what he has in mind."

    Support that assertion! I double dare you! You may be right, in the sense those with eyes and ears can see what a disaster letting Ryan near the White House would be; but that doesn't mean that there is any "there" there, in Ryan's proposals. He's just a little better at the smoke and mirrors than his purported boss is.

    "...with any luck, the campaign will offer us a real opportunity to think hard about what kind of government we want."

    Don't bet on it Joe, don't bet on it. bc

  196. I don't share your enthusiasm for the debates, Mr. Nocera. What I expect to see is more obfuscation, lying, and avoidance. Sound bites will rule the day, and the larger picture will be missed. When November comes, I will not be any clearer on the specifics of the Romney/Ryan plan than I am today. Thus, I will be forced to vote for my best guess. Again.

    The debate over the size and scope of the federal government has been an ongoing one throughout our history for anyone who has bothered to take notice. This election is not special in that regard. Whether they realize it or not, citizens engage in that debate any time they discuss politics, issues, or even current events (domestic and foreign). And the debate will never end.

    I don't believe there is a "one size fits all" government that will suffice at all times. But at all times, the federal government should be the minimum size necessary to get the job done. What that job is is exactly what the debate is about.

    Some things are obviously within the power of the federal government - those enumerated in the Constitution. Others fall within its power by virtue of scope - those things too big or expensive to be done by the states. There are other criteria as well but the point is that government is a necessary evil and the question is this: with which how much evil are we willing to put up?

  197. I've come to the conclusion that these elections of Dem/ Rep Clones we have are good for the newspaper business and columnist' jobs. Not much more.

    Another way to talk around our problems. Another chariot race. Another Super bowl

  198. Might as well get your head in the game!

  199. We must be careful not to confuse Mr. Ryan's earnestness with competency.
    This is the opposite of the old kill the messenger bromide.
    Ryan may be thoughtful, even likable. That does not translate to competent, honest or accurate.
    Economics is not a voodoo science. The basics of supply and demand are inviolable.
    Ryan's model for our economic future is best described by the acronym GIGO - garbage in, garbage out.

  200. Ryan's penchant for budget detail doesn't include addition except for the military and the top wage earners--- it only includes subtraction. And the subtraction portion doesn't "... put meat on the bones so that everybody can see what he has in mind." There are lots of unspecified loopholes Ryan intends to close as part of his budget plan. Details on Ryan's loopholes, unlike details on Romney's tax returns, will have a huge impact on Americans. I hope the press will not parrot the Republican party line that Ryan has "big ideas" about the budget without hammering at him to be specific about those loopholes he wants to close to achieve his miraculous balanced budget in 30 years. Are they tax deductions like, say, mortgages? Does he plan to tax folks on the health benefits the employers provide? We need to know this before we cast our votes in November. It would also help to know what parts of "big government" are on the chopping block. Is it post offices? Farm subsidies? Oil subsidies? Road repairs?

    It would be helpful if Obama was held to the same standard on the budget debate. This election can only be a debate on the budget if both sides are forced to be clear and specific about the sacrifices we're all going to make in order to achieve the balanced budget everyone seems to want.

  201. I do hope that we can clearly see the differences between the parties in a substantive way as this election cycle progresses.

    Now is Obama's opportunity, but he needs to put forth a real vision. He has had the bully pulpit for almost four years and still has not espoused a vision for fixing the clear and evident problems we have with regard to our finances.
    Why does he not have the courage to say loudly and clearly that we waste too much on defense? He could easily say that he wants to shift spending from war mongering to helping elderly people and I bet the vast majority of people would see that as sensible. Virtually everyone I know complains about the incredible waste of resources funneled to our military industrial complex.

    Be clear about how he wants to change the way we spend our money and how much money we collect. Be bold. Be a leader that truly wants to change America for the better.

    So far he has been virtually absent and weak and timid, essentially wanting to maintain the status quo with tweaks around the edges as his budget proposals clearly show.

    It is his opportunity, but I have the sinking feeling that he will be convinced by advisors to simply take the low road and complain about the other side's plan rather than offer anything controversial of his own.

  202. Rep. Ryan's name on the ticket gives the Obama campaign the opening it needs to fully press and pursue its best argument for a second term: the do-nothing congress. While Obama has worked tirelessly for four years, Republicans have blocked his efforts in every possible way. If you add it up, its been
    Obama 4
    Congress 0
    That should be the campaign in a netshell.

  203. @MrTom:
    You say Republicans "have blocked" Obama's efforts in every possible way. But sir, isn't that what they were elected to do? Especially after 2010? Weren't the Republicans doing the peoples' will, to stop or slow down Obama's spending spree? You have a problem with that?

  204. While there shouldn't be any qualms whatsoever for a genuine debate with real substance, why on earth every article one read, including this one with its associated supportive links, claimed Rep Ryan's proposal is a real thing as if sequestration wasn't? After all, it is the byproduct of GOP's rejection of President Obama's Grand Bargain

    Also, do people just become parrots by repeating this, “Over time, Ryan’s ‘vision’ would decimate most federal activities beyond Social Security, Medicare and defense” ? Nowhere in the Ryan budget demonstrates any restraints in the defense budget at all. One may surmise the twin entitlement programs need reforms, but his proposal is a veiled dismantlement. Worse, it also gives a tax cut to those who are most capable of paying, on top of the existing one. So that is a retreaded Part D all over again

    It is important to do a show and tell and not to label. Words like 'wonkish' sound impressive but in effect it is another case of neutron bombing the future of America. Remember, even President Bush toyed with the idea of privatization Social Security. And why there is no spotlight on the inherent contradiction between Gov Romney wanting GM to fail and Rep Ryan voting to save it? Did the latter suddenly get religion? Or is there certain amount of hypocrisy involved? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad he did. But why is there no depth look at his records before heaping praise on the candidate? After all, he voted for the wars with accounting for them

  205. correction: this

    After all, he voted for the wars with accounting for them

    should be

    After all, he voted for the wars with no accounting for them

  206. Finally a chance to have a real discussion about real issues, instead of the infantilized fear mongering that passes for policy debate. Obama and his gang will be right to call out Ryan, but I also believe Obama will finally be forced to have an adult conversation about the future of the country.

  207. Joe, nice column, but if you think anybody is interested in having a serious debate about the issues, you must be dreaming, or living in Canada, or dreaming of living in Canada.

    We don't have the attention span or maybe even the intelligence.

  208. Yes, we do have the attention span and the intelligence. What we do not have is the ability to listen to baloney!

  209. I, like most Americans, love Charles Dickens. I suspect that my love might wane if the the Ryan Budget is enacted. Charles Dickens' London with be America. Poor houses, child labor, street crime everywhere. We don't have debtor's prisons, but with the mushrooming student loans, and the lack of bankruptcy as a last resort, we might will return to debtor.s prison. No point in watching or reading Dickens. Cratchit will be everywhere.

  210. Good article. Way past time to have a National debate about these very important issues.
    This is a much needed debate & we need to define (again) our countries mission. Maybe it is just to redefine it.
    I just hope the public can see through the ads & look at the policies. & platform of each candidate & party.
    This will tell us whether we are really a great nation (I believe we are) or a bunch of selfish people just out to get all each one can.
    It is an opportunity to put into actions ones own Values. And vote an action "that speaks louder than words."

  211. This country needs to have an open, civil, intelligent and honest discussion of the size, role and funding of government. I have serious doubts that the Republicans are much interested in such discussion. Otherwise the candidates and their charming super Pacs and tax exempt 501 (c) 4 megabucks organziations would stop running non-truths like the one about the $700 billion cut to Medicare (the same amount that the Ryan Budget called for). And otherwise they would be filling in the blanks on tax reform - whahe loopholes that the loopholes that they will close and will those loopholes include any that Mr. Romney has employed to legally evade taxes?

  212. Dear Mr. Nocera:
    Thank you for having the audacity to point out the "good news for many people." This is the first adult piece I have read on the NYT Editorial Page in quite some time. Congratulations.

    By the way, I did double check to make sure I was reading the NYT.

  213. The Chinese symbol for crisis has been horribly misconstrued to also mean opportunity to westerners who ignore the caution and misgivings this symbol also portends. What they conveniently ignore is the wisdom that never, ever should such a situation be sought and only to be encountered when such a situation is thrust upon one.

    Paul Ryan is a person who throws such caution to the wind, not for himself, of course, but to the most vulnerable amongst us and for a large percentage of citizens who actually work for what they have.

    Ryan's boot strapping story is a false one. He may have lost his father, and that left a permanent mark on him, but he grew up in comfort and financial safety. He was able to go to school and had connections to smooth his way. This is what his plan will make sure will not happen for more and more citizens of this nation.

    Paul Ryan, and anyone who would be foolish enough to ride on his coat tails are public enemy #1.

  214. "Republicans haven’t really meant it. George W. Bush, for instance, pushed for a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients that added an estimated $300 billion to the federal deficit — not to mention two budget-busting wars.

    Ryan, however, means it."

    But didn't he support George Bush?

  215. Born in 1970, too late to remember Peter Arnett's report on Ben Tre in Vietnam, Paul Ryan has made Medicare into the Vietnamese village:
    "It became necessary to destroy the town to save it."
    Like the adage says, I guess we're doomed to repeat history.

  216. Wait a second, didn't Ryan vote for the Bush prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients that Nocera cites as an example of "Republicans who haven't really meant it"?

  217. Joe,
    It's not about the size of government. It's about the soul of government.
    Do we really want a government ruled by the Ayn Rand creed of every man or woman for himself or herself? Do we want a country where laws apply to individuals, but not to corporations? Do we really want to get rid of our social safety net, have an economically tiered education system that keeps the poor in their place but endows the wealthy with the learning tools to keep their power and privilege over the rest of us? That isn't the American Dream, Joe. That's the Romney Dream.
    As in life, it's not size that counts, it's motion. The 112th Congress, while trying to reduce the size of government, has not been doing it's job. They have done nothing to create jobs. Their debt ceiling tantrum accomplished nothing, but almost set up a global meltdown. In the end, their display just cost taxpayers more money and increased the interest rate on our debt. The 112th Congress has the soul of a pack of wolves.
    So what do we get rid of in order to make a small government? Do we get rid of teachers? Do we stop building or repairing roads and bridges? Do we gut the SEC and allow the financial industry to have a free for all? Which environmental protections are unnecessary, the ones that ensure that we have clean air or the ones that protect our drinking water?
    I want a government comprised of people who believe in government, and are responsible to make sure it works the way it should. Size doesn't matter.

  218. "He is likable, engaging, wonkish and smart"
    Likable? Really? I think this is just a media thing, a way of praising someone before pointing out the deficits of character. You talk about someone who ignores that poverty exist despite the hard work of the poor, that disabled people, in its majority, cannot afford a dignified life without help from the government. Paul Ryan ignores all this. I don't know how someone can actually "like" someone like him.

    "His personal story — with the death of his father forcing him to become self-reliant early in life — is inspiring."
    Again, it is not. I know many people with "inspiring" stories, although this term is used too many times without any real meaning. What is inspiring about a man who saw hardship and then became heartless towards other who are experiencing hardships now?

  219. AHEM: I still want to see Romney's tax records.

  220. "What began as a call to selfless public duty for the good of the nation has evolved through the course of US history. Today, unfortunately, public service is no longer seen as a selfless commitment to the welfare of others. It is more like a self-centered establishment paradise. The reasons are apparent.
    They give well-worn speeches on the yet elusive progress toward paradise for all citizens. But that paradise is but a fiction for the masses of ordinary citizens. The establishment paradise has been constructed and evolved in such a fashion that it is to remain that way in the name of the established order, conservatism and preservation of the powerful status quo."



  221. I don't find his personal story so inspiring. It's sad that his father died.
    But he was a well off kid who took advantage of Social Security benefits to pay for college.

    No doubt he would now try to reduce these types of benefits, even for the most needy.

  222. Let us hope that it is a debate and not an acceleration of the mud slinging. On April 13, 2011 President Obama said the following regarding his fiscal policy.

    " So this is my approach to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 12 years. It’s an approach that achieves about $2 trillion in spending cuts across the budget. It will lower our interest payments on the debt by $1 trillion. It calls for tax reform to cut about $1 trillion in tax expenditures -- spending in the tax code. And it achieves these goals while protecting the middle class, protecting our commitment to seniors, and protecting our investments in the future."

    Mr. Romney has been more vague in his approach to solving our debt problem. It is time we see the details of each sides plan regarding our debt. It is too important to gloss over. The public understands that the final result of each plan will be altered from what is proposed; however, the voter will have a better understanding of what each candidate wants to achieve.

    After explaining their debt reduction plan each candidate needs to address the following questions in order for the voter to make a sound voting decision.

  223. I hope the discussion will include the one proven successful financial solution.
    Massive government spending to create jobs!!
    Looking back at the Great Depression, it was Government induced job creation that started to get this country out of the depression, and when FDR, thinking all was well, turned to an austerity budget, the country fell back into depression.
    It was massive spending, including war spending, that finally ended the Depression.
    Budget cutting austerity, has never worked, not for Europe, which is now falling back into recession, nor will it work for the United States.
    Job creation is the answer, people working, spending money and paying taxes to energize the economy and eliminate the deficit.
    This is the ONLY economic policy throughout history, that has been successful in the past!

  224. I think you're wrong--Ryan doesn't "mean it" about deficits & the size of government anymore than Bush or Reagan did. His budget left most of the cuts unspecified, increased weapons spending and included huge tax cuts for the wealthy that were larger than the cuts.

    I understand why the GOP keeps playing the "deficit emergency" & "big government" tunes; they generate anger and angry people are easy to manipulate. But the way the news media gives people like Ryan a pass on his evasions & self-contradictions really bothers me.

  225. I agree, the media like CNN has for two long only reported this is what the Democrats say and this is what the Republicans say without looking to also report on what are the facts.

    Also I don't know why the media has not given equal time to the liberal Caucasus’ alternative budget. Hardly anyone has ever heard of it.

  226. How is Ryan the perfect tea party candidate???? He voted during the Bush administration 94% of the time to increase the size of the government. His budget calls for raising the taxes on the lowest 30% of tax payers, while reducing Mitt's taxes to a .82% rate (down from 14% he paid on the tax return he showed us). How is this teaparty-ish??

  227. Perfectly correct! He is not a fiscal conservative (tea partier!) or deficit hawk. He's a supply sider. (Cut taxes for the wealthy, people and corporations, expand government in ways that increase their wealth.)

  228. As someone who disagrees with your views on Ryan and the need for fiscal responsibility, I applaud your tone and fairness in casting the debate. But I assure you, you will be a lonely representative of the left. In fact, if Obama's rhetoric to this point is a guide, Ryan will be accused of an assortment of evils, none of which bear any resemblance to the truth.

    In the meantime, our president, busy worrying about Romney's taxes, most assuredly will not offer specifics for reigning in entitlements or preventing the calamity we face down the road. Why not focus your energies on the man who promised to "cut the deficit in half" by the end of his first term?

  229. If only the Republicans had let him. You truly have it wrong!

  230. The CBO on January 7, 2009, projected a 1.186 trillion dollar deficit before Obama even took office. They added on additional projected lost revenue from the financial crisis, 362 billion + TARP, etc. to Bush's '09 budget

    Compare this 1.186 projection, with the end of the fiscal year in 2009 & it shows we lost an additional 252 billion in revenue. 362+252 = 614 billion lost +TARP, etc. It shows we even spent 25 billion less than projected by the end of that fiscal year. 252-25 = 227 + 1.186 = 1.413 deficit

    The truth is, most of our deficit problems are from the loss of revenue from the recession & from tax cuts. The last time they extended the Bush tax cuts & other recession fighting tax cuts, it cost 830 billion for 2 years

    Also, SS & medicare trust funds are still running surpluses, 97 billion last year. They have not only worked well, but their surpluses have been used to hide the real size of our federal funds deficits for decades. For example, in '08, the federal funds deficit was 724 billion, but the trust funds surplus was 266 billion. 724 deficit - 266 trust fund surplus = 458 billion total deficit

    Since the trust funds have been running surpluses, we can't blame our deficits on them. Also, yearly trust fund revenue increases, have even been used to hide the impact of large federal fund revenue losses after tax cuts. There is 10-20 years before we run shortfalls, and even then, they will not be bankrupt. They have done a great job & simply need some fixing

  231. What ever happened to investigative journalism? What is happening at the Times? First, yesterday's puff piece 'bio-op' which appeared to be written by Paul Ryan himself. Today we get Frank Bruni describing Ryan's ability to catch catfish with his bare hands and Joe Nocera writing that he doesn't understand the fuss about Romney's undisclosed tax returns, reasoning that ' we already know all we need to know'. At least half of the voting public disagrees with that assessment. Where is Frank Rich when you really need him?