Are Republicans with Ideas Hypocrites?

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I don't agree with Paul Krugman's take on Republicans and Medicare here:

One of the truly amazing things about the health care debate is the way Republicans have managed to pose as defenders of Medicare...

It's all hypocrisy, of course. Remember what the 1995 government shutdown was about: it was Newt Gingrich trying to force Bill Clinton to accept, yes, deep cuts in Medicare. And it's not just history: Republican plans to balance the budget rely crucially on ... deep cuts in Medicare.

Consider the "Roadmap for America's future" released by Paul Ryan ... it would involve substantially less Medicare spending than under the Obama administration's budget

You almost have to admire the audacity: Republicans are denouncing Obama for proposing Medicare cuts, while themselves proposing much deeper Medicare cuts. And they're getting away with it.

No, Paul Ryan's budget is not hypocrisy. Let's review some facts:


1. Gingrich shut down the federal government in 1995 to force Medicare cuts.

2. GOP Minority Leader John Boehner opposes any cuts to Medicare (and Gingrich now agrees).

3. Rep. Paul Ryan's alternative fiscal plan would drastically cut Medicare -- and Boehner distanced himself from the plan.

Pace Krugman, "they" are not proposing deep cuts. Ryan is. The hypocrisy here is not between facts (1) and (3). The hypocrisy here is between facts (1) and (2). Some Republicans, not named Paul Ryan, who participated in a government shutdown to force Medicare cuts in 1995 are now railing against the idea that the Democrats' health care plan would force Medicare cuts. That's the problem.

Democrats often bemoan (or marvel at) Republicans' ability to maintain a monolith of substance-free opposition. Heck, I've said as much. But it sounds like Krugman is essentially accusing Ryan of hypocrisy for nothing more than defying a nonsense GOP position on Medicare. But the position is nonsense! It should be defied! If we're going to take apart Ryan's budget, let's have at it. We can start with the fact that it's probably too crazy to work. But Ryan's attempt to solve a serious problem in an unserious party deserves something more than a complaint that he's being inconsistent with his brand.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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