Friday, May 27, 2011

Brooks Versus Krugman

I don't know, must be something wrong with me, too naive, I guess, but I continue to be flummoxed and frustrated by the ongoing differences between David Brooks's and Paul Krugman's visions of the world, particularly when it comes to the Medicare debate.

I assume that Krugman is right, that Paul Ryan's ideas about Medicare and all the other conservatives who seem to think that there must be radical change in the way Medicare is financed, are, well, just plain wrong. That all they're trying to do is privatize Medicare and if they get their way, by, say, 2030, the elderly will be left forlornly holding a very short healthcare stick. The Republican charge is that the Democrats are playing politics with this, but Krugman is absolutely convinced that there is nothing to the charge. He holds that Democrats are telling the straight-up truth about the holes in this Medicare proposal.

Brooks, on the other hand, keeps trying to play the middle man. Republicans have to be willing to tax the rich and Democrats have to halt spending, but most of all those nasty Democrats need to stop this demonizing of Paul Ryan because he's brave and thoughtful and certainly well intentioned.

The thing is, though, my sense is that Ryan is not any of those things, that he is, in fact, a kind of charlatan. But Brooks's support and admiration for Ryan pull me up short a bit. He knows what Ryan is up to. He's far better informed than I am. He must have some reason to believe that Ryan is a good guy. Or, could it be, is it possible, that because Brooks always has to be the guy to find the middle way, he feels compelled to identify someone on the right to pit against Obama, and the best he can do is Paul Ryan? But in reality, like all the other Republicans we hear about, Ryan is the Wizard of Oz, all full of polished bluster and seemingly impressive noises, with no ideas of any value whatsoever to contribute to this important discussion?

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