The New York Times attacked Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's new budget proposal from several angles on Wednesday. Congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman adopted an accusatory pro-Democratic tone in his report, "Ryan’s Budget Would Cut $5 Trillion in Spending Over a Decade," warning that it proposed "steep cuts to Medicaid and food stamps, and the total repeal of the Affordable Care Act just as millions are reaping the benefits of the law," and promised it would give Democrats a big target in the 2014 elections.
Elsewhere, columnist Paul Krugman called Ryan a "con man," and an editorial accused Ryan of having "very dangerous ideas."
Weisman, who is impatient with Republicans who demand spending cuts, parroted Obama-care talking points.
Mr. Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman and a possible White House contender in 2016, laid out a budget plan that cuts $5 trillion in spending over the next decade. He said it would bring federal spending and taxes into balance by 2024, through steep cuts to Medicaid and food stamps, and the total repeal of the Affordable Care Act just as millions are reaping the benefits of the law.
The new budget violates some tenets that both parties have tried to observe since the budget fights of 2011 and 2012. Those fights preserved a practice of cutting defense and nondefense programs almost equally while sparing the poorest Americans from the worst of the belt-tightening.
Mr. Ryan’s plan does not strike that balance.
In all, Mr. Ryan said, spending would be cut by $5.1 trillion over the next decade. More than $2 trillion of that would come from repealing Mr. Obama’s health care initiative, the Affordable Care Act, a political move that has become much more difficult with the closing of the first enrollment period. More than 10 million Americans have gotten health insurance through the law, either through private policies purchased on insurance exchanges, through expanded Medicaid or private policies purchased through brokers but subsidized by the law.
Jacob Sullum at Reason accused Weisman of a "Democratic talking point" and shows his "10 million" claim to be exaggerated.
Weisman employed more loaded language.
But the toughest cuts would come from domestic programs that have already been reduced steadily since 2011, when Republicans took control of the House. Mr. Ryan’s 2024 domestic spending figure would be lower in nominal dollars than such spending was in 2005. Adjusted for inflation, it would be a 29 percent cut from today’s levels, and 28 percent below the average level of spending in former President George W. Bush’s administration.
A Wednesday Times editorial, "Mr. Ryan's Faith-Based Budget," asked:
....does the Republican Party really want to coalesce around a budget this destructive to the country’s future: harming the middle class and the poor; undercutting popular safety-net programs, including Medicare and Pell grants; and heaping tax benefits on the rich?....Mr. Ryan hopes to be promoted to the helm of the Ways and Means Committee now that its chairman, Dave Camp, has announced his retirement. That would put a man with very dangerous ideas in a position to do serious damage to the tax code and the safety net, which Ways and Means controls. His budget is mostly an exercise in grandstanding right now, but, in a short time, it could become a pathway to something far worse.
Economist and conservative-loathing columnist Paul Krugman, a long-time Ryan-hater, unloaded his usual vitriol in a Wednesday blog post, "Same As He Ever Was." After boasting that he had Ryan "pegged as a con man right away," Krugman wrote: "The latest Paul Ryan budget is getting a lot of well-deserved flak, and so is Ryan himself. The combination of cruelty and raw dishonesty is so obvious, it’s hard to see how anyone can fail to see what’s going on."