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Monday, April 09, 2012

Paul Krugman: The Gullible Center

When will the centrists ever admit the truth?:

The Gullible Center, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: So, can we talk about the Paul Ryan phenomenon? And yes, I mean the phenomenon, not the man. Mr. Ryan ... isn’t especially interesting. He’s a garden-variety modern G.O.P. extremist, an Ayn Rand devotee...
No, what’s interesting is the cult that has grown up around Mr. Ryan..., the way self-proclaimed centrists elevated him into an icon of fiscal responsibility, and even now can’t seem to let go of their fantasy.
The Ryan cult was very much on display last week, after President Obama said the obvious: the latest Republican budget proposal, a proposal that Mitt Romney has avidly embraced, is a “Trojan horse” — that is,... essentially a fraud. ...
The reaction from many commentators was a howl of outrage. The president was being rude; he was being partisan; he was being a big meanie.
Yet ... the proposal is exactly as President Obama described it: a proposal to deny health care (and many other essentials) to millions..., while lavishing tax cuts on corporations and the wealthy — all while failing to reduce the budget deficit... So why are centrists rising to Mr. Ryan’s defense?
Well, ask yourself the following: What does it mean to be a centrist, anyway?
It could mean supporting politicians who ... are willing, for example, to seek Democratic support for health reforms originally devised by Republicans, to support deficit-reduction plans that rely on both spending cuts and revenue increases. And by that standard, centrists should be lavishing praise on ... Barack Obama.
But the “centrists” ... self-image, and to a large extent their professional selling point, depends on posing as high-minded types standing between the partisan extremes, bringing together reasonable people from both parties — even if these reasonable people don’t actually exist. ...
Enter Mr. Ryan, an ordinary G.O.P. extremist, but a mild-mannered one. The “centrists” needed to pretend that there are reasonable Republicans, so they nominated him for the role...
So you can see the problem these commentators face. To admit that the president’s critique is right would be to admit that they were snookered by Mr. Ryan... More than that, it would call into question their whole centrist shtick — for the moral of my story is that Mr. Ryan isn’t the only emperor who turns out, on closer examination, to be naked.
Hence the howls of outrage, and the attacks on the president for being “partisan.” For that is what people in Washington say when they want to shout down someone who is telling the truth.

    Posted by on Monday, April 9, 2012 at 12:33 AM in Budget Deficit, Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (116)


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