Christian Schneider, of the rightwing think tank Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, joins the bum rush of Paul Ryan fluffers in the latest issue of the surely ironically named Wisconsin "Interest."
Titled "Rebel Without A Pause" we learn -- guess what -- that Ryan is a deep thinker, he's a rising star, he's humble, he's just a regular guy. He also likes Thai food.
OK, perhaps it's unfair to expect journamalism breakthroughs from Schneider, he who has candidly admitted he hopes unemployment stays high. But to give him credit, he does produce some bonafide howlers.
Such as this:
Ryan began to garner national attention in 2003, during the debate over President Bush’s proposal to expand prescription drug benefits to seniors through Medicare. Ryan is proud of the free market programs he inserted into the final bill (Medicare Advantage, Health Saving Accounts), and believes those are the “seeds” to a future overhaul of federal entitlement programs.
Actually what it laid the groundwork for was bigger deficits, with former comptroller general David Walker calling it "the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s." And, as Bruce Bartlett notes, it was more expensive than Obamacare -- and unlike ACA it didn't include dedicated financing, offsets or revenue raisers. It was just tacked on to the budget. Plus the way it was passed made the Corhusker Kickback look like a goo-goo's wet dream.
Christian -- where's the research?
It's tough to outdo that risible work, but Christian struggles mightily when he describes Ryan "challenging" the president at the health care summit.
So when cameras turned to Ryan, he began systematically dismantling the Democrats’ rosy cost estimates. He pointed out that much of the cost was hidden, as it raised taxes for ten years to pay for six years’ worth of spending. He exposed the fact that the $371 billion “doc fix” (a plan to reimburse doctors more through Medicare) had been separated from the bill and considered as standalone legislation to keep the price tag down. “Hiding spending does not reduce spending,” he said.
As Ryan spoke, the cameras would occasionally make their way back to President Obama, who was glaring icily at Ryan.
“I wanted to throw a match on this thing,” Ryan remembers thinking.
But he purposefully omits any mention of the bill's expected savings, disingenuously attaches the price tag of a broken Republican policy onto the health-care reform bill, and selectively stops extrapolating trends when they don't fit his points. It's a presentation designed to make the bill look less fiscally responsible than it really is.
But don't listen to me. Robert Reischauer is the head of the Urban Institute. He's also one of the CBO's most revered former directors, in no small part because his relentlessly honest cost estimates helped doom Bill Clinton's bill in 1994. I reached him earlier today and asked whether he thought this bill made fiscal sense. "Were I in Congress and asked to vote on this," he replied, "I'd vote in favor." The bill isn't perfect, he continued, "but it at least has the prospect for creating a platform over which more significant and far-reaching cost containment can be enacted."
Did Schneider and Ryan learn to do "research" at the same place?