Ryan’s Hope and Change

Jonathan (FBD) Weisman hands the mike to Paul Ryan who denounces Obama’s trickledown envy economics

Mr Ryan [skip] also opposed “envy economics,” a hit on Mr. Obama’s proposals to curb tax breaks on huge individual retirement accounts, to raise the capital gains tax and to tax inheritances based on the value of assets when they were purchased, not based on their value when the owner died.


Mr. Ryan says, the creators are doing well. Others are not.

“The Obamanomics that we’re practicing now have exacerbated inequality. They’ve exacerbated stagnation. They’re made things worse,” he said. “The wealthy are doing really well. They’re practicing trickle down economics now.”

Now it isn’t completely clear to me if the last “they” refers to the wealthy or to the Obamanomists. The sentence makes no sense either way.

But the point is that supply sider Ryan, after reinventing himself as a green eyeshade deficit hawk when the villagers agreed that the deficit was the defining issue of our times, is trying to re-reinvent himself as someone who cares about inequality now that the conventional wisdom is “what may be the defining economic issue of the era — the rising gap between the rich and everyone else —”.

I am not a fan of Mr Weisman. However, both his willingness to quote Ryan at length and his epitomizing of the VSP consensus make this article fascinating.

I do have a problem with the abstract “President Obama’s proposed 10-year budget, to be announced on Monday, will focus on increasing the incomes of the middle class through new spending and tax credits, while adding nearly $6 trillion to the debt” and this sentence “President Obama will propose a 10-year budget on Monday that stabilizes the federal deficit but does not seek balance, instead focusing on policies to address income inequality as he adds nearly $6 trillion to the debt.” The reason is that the proposed reforms “address income inequality” are paired with the total 10 year deficit. It seems to me that the reasonable comparison is the proposed reforms and the proposed 10 year deficit minus the business as usual 10 year deficit.

Weisman (and the anonymous Post staffer) could have well have written that Obama proposes mass production of the extremely expensive F-35 flysing Swiss Army knife and an additional $ 6 trillion in debt. With a bit of work, they could even have reported on the effect of Obama’s proposed reforms on the deficit. But they didn’t.

Weisman didn’t even make it clear that the $ 6 trillion is the proposed 10 year deficit (not the proposed increase in the 10 year deficit). I am sure it is, because the article also says that the debt/GDP ratio will remain about 75% and I can do the math.