Moment of Deceit

A few years ago, Mark told me that it’s easy to be a blogger on the west coast: wait until 9 pm Pacific time, look at David Brooks’ column, and point out how idiotic it is.  He was right; it IS easy.  But today, it’s necessary.

Today (or tomorrow?), Brooks, who favored the extensions of all Bush-era tax cuts, and opposed the Affordable Care Act because it didn’t cut costs enough although he also opposed its cost-cutting measures, now hails Paul Ryan’s new budget in a column ironically entitled “Moment of Truth.”  The column praises Ryan as “courageous” and “setting the standard for seriousness.”

Where do you start?

How about in the first paragraph, which lauds the Simpson-Bowles plan and conveniently neglects to mention that Ryan opposed it.  Then:

The Ryan budget will put all future arguments in the proper context: The current welfare state is simply unsustainable and anybody who is serious, on left or right, has to have a new vision of the social contract.

No, that is not the proper context.  The proper context is 1) that if we ended the Bush tax cuts, bringing us back to the socialistic 1990’s; and 2) stopped fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we could get a great deal of the budget under control.  Moreover, every other advanced democracy is able to cover its entire population and control costs better than we do.  That is the proper context.  Then:

He would reform the tax code along the Simpson-Bowles lines, but without the tax increases.

Wrong again: Ryan’s roadmap increases taxes on the middle class and guts Medicaid and Medicare in order to pay for further cuts in taxes for the very rich.  Then:

It’s amazing that a budget chairman could include tax policy in his proposal, since it’s normally under the purview of the Ways and Means Committee.

Well, no, it’s not amazing at all: this was specifically designed by the Republican leadership to allow Ryan to propose whatever he wanted with special rules greasing through the budget process.  Then:

Instead of assuming open-ended future costs, the government will give you a sum of money (starting at an amount equal to what the government now spends) and a regulated menu of insurance options from which to choose.

From which to choose from whom?  Private insurers, of course; and we know how easy the individual health insurance market is for seniors.  Then:

The Ryan budget will please governors of both parties by turning Medicaid into a block grant — giving states more flexibility.

No it won’t, if any of those governors actually would like to, you know, ensure that their populations are insured.  If states actually want more flexibility, then they can get waivers from HHS.  So far, there are 451 such waivers.  What these will do is allow those governors who want to cut people off to be able to do so more easily. 

Even Brooks’ supposed concessions are mendacious.  Thus:

The Republicans still have no alternative to the Democratic health care reform.

Yes they do: it’s called increasing the number of uninsured and underinsured people in this country by several tens of millions.  For Republicans, having health insurance is like having any other commodity: if you can afford it, you do, and if you can’t, you can’t.

Enough.  Finally:

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

Here, Brooks is finally right.  Ryan has grasped that reality, and shoved it into Ayn Rand’s wet dream.  Apparently, David Brooks is already there, waiting for him.