“Childish Drivel”

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 6 2011 @ 5:35pm

I’ve been scanning through the emails as usual and detect an unusual fury about even considering the virtues of the Ryan plan. The ad hominems have been much nastier than usual. A sample of the in-tray:

Why exactly should the onus be on Obama and the Democrats to provide a plan that impacts the budget in the same when it is clear that Ryan’s proposal is a fairy tale based on assumptions that are way off-base? Here’s a way in which Democrats wanted to impact the budget in the same way: Not extending the Bush tax cuts. Unfortunately, not enough of them thought that way. Ryan wants to extend these tax cuts and then some. Then he wants to pay for those cuts on the backs of the poor and sick. YOUR MOVE OBAMA!!! Why again should he respond in kind to this childish drivel?

Unfortunately returning to Clinton era tax rates would not solve the problem we face, although they’d clearly help and Obama could now make that case as a way to soften the impact on the needy of Ryan’s proposals. Another:

Reading your blog these past few weeks, all I can think about is the fact that you were able to take a month off when you got really sick, yet you cheerlead the GOP’s efforts to take healthcare away from vulnerable Americans.

Several readers have also accused me of being a Republican party hack and someone whose friends all work on Wall Street.

I don’t have any friends who work on Wall Street and somehow I don’t think the GOP would think of me as their mouthpiece. And look: I’ve written what I would change in the Ryan proposal. I would not abolish Obamacare, but would want to accelerate its cost-control experiments. I don’t buy the rosy projections of growth and unemployment. I think a reasonable deal would be to reform taxes in a way that both reduces rates but increases general revenue, and use that money to make subsidies for elderly patients more generous. I’d like a gas tax too (fat chance, I know).

And I’d welcome a Democratic vision of how to reach fiscal balance and a surplus over time. There is none. And no, Obama’s budget doesn’t do this. If the Dems want to raise taxes to pay for all the current entitlements in the future, then they need to tell us precisely how high taxes are going to have to go. Until the Democrats show us a path to a balanced budget according to their values, credit must go to Ryan for breaking the paradigm of never mentioning the sacrifices that we have to make if we are not to become Greece or Portugal in due course.