The editors of the Post do it again!


Explanations are rarely this clear: In this morning’s Washington Post, the editors do another good job discussing Paul Ryan’s latest plan.

The Post has done a good, clear job describing the fiscal consequences of various GOP budget proposals. Today, they do it again! This sort of thing is quite rare:
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL (3/21/12): The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center said Mr. Ryan’s plan would reduce revenues by an eye-popping $4.6 trillion—and that’s on top of the $5.4 trillion cost of making the Bush tax cuts permanent. Moreover, no matter what deductions are curtailed, the benefit of the lower rates would flow overwhelmingly to the wealthiest Americans, while Mr. Ryan would take a machete to programs that help the least fortunate.
We call attention to the highlighted statement because it is so clear. This is what it says:

The Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire at the end of this year. Extending them would reduce federal revenue by $5.4 trillion over the next ten years.

Ryan’s proposal goes beyond even that. His additional tax cuts would reduce federal revenues by an additional $4.6 trillion over the next ten years.

The editors have done a very good job explaining these very basic points. Other journalists rarely explain such basic matters so clearly.

If you doubt, just read the Washington Post’s news report about Ryan’s proposal, also from today’s paper. For Dean Baker’s take on this news report, go ahead: Just click here.


  1. Just wanted to thank you for pointing again to Dean Baker's site. It is excellent.

  2. Wapo isn't clear on one key point: the Ryan plan would mean lower taxes for every single person who pays federal income tax.

    Also, Wapo divides Americans into the "wealthy" and the "less fortunate". Here's another way to look at it: The Ryan Plan would benefit providers and reduce goodies to freeloaders. (BTW as a retiree, I'm one of the parasites.)

    1. "Freeloaders" and "parasites?"

      You really are a reprehensible individual. Your rhetorical flourish ("as a retiree, I'm one of the parasites"), whereby you attempt to deflect criticism of your disgusting caricature of the neediest in American society only makes you seem more disgusting.

      For you transparently do not see yourself that way.

      As you have informed us at length in your time at this blog, you have had a successful career prior to your retirement. You have amassed some personal savings and enjoy a corporate pension. Nothing about your demeanor in promoting to us these facts has suggested to anyone that you consider yourself a freeloader or a parasite on society.

      We all have the impression you consider that your success has been well-earned and self-made.

      No you don't think of *yourself* as a freeloader or parasite, but you do indeed seem to regard many others that way.

      You deploy your receipt of Social Security benefits as a badge that joins you to the needy when it is convenient for your purposes in making clear you're arguing dispassionately for the reduction of these "goodies" even though you yourself use them.

      We're supposed to think that's an aid to your argument?

      No, it's repulsive.

    2. D in C - can you define better who these parasites are? Are they the children of single mothers on welfare; people with cerebral palsy or autism?; people who have been laid off as jobs go overseas or so shareholders can get bigger dividends and can't find work? elderly widows just scraping by as is? Do you let them starve, go without heat, get by without medical care? Is private charity going to step in here?

    3. There's yet another way to look at it:

      There are productive people, and then there are the idle rich.

      Paul Ryan's plan would reward the Paris Hiltons of America, and bilk the rest of us out of the public insurance systems we've worked for decades to earn.

      (BTW, as a person who has worked all of my life, I'm one of those productive people for whom the government --when it isn't corrupted by profiteers-- ensures a fair playing field.)

    4. I think he is just making a joke, your mileage may vary...

    5. Anyone who thinks the freeloaders are comprised of "the needy" anymore as opposed to (primarily) the lazy and entitled is completely out of touch.

    6. From David's gloomy assessment it looks like our we may soon have to resort to "Death Panels" after all . . . only for the very-least-wealthy, of course.

  3. Parasites are those who consume goods and services without any commensurate contribution to production of goods and services. People receiving government benefits, therefore, aren't necessarily parasites, and people paying taxes aren't necessarily producers. Consider a landowner whose land is trebled in value due to a interstate interchange; is the tax he pays a contribution of his production, or simply giving back what the government gifted him?

  4. "Can you define better who these parasites are? Are they the children of single mothers on welfare; people with cerebral palsy or autism?; people who have been laid off as jobs go overseas or so shareholders can get bigger dividends and can't find work? elderly widows just scraping by as is?"

    Yes. The parasites are people who are not producing anything. They live on other people's efforts.

    "Do you let them starve, go without heat, get by without medical care?"

    Not at all. Neither Paul Ryan nor I am proposing to end government programs that help the needy. I just want to acknowlege that these people are receiving charity from those who do the work.

    When charity goes on for a long time, it can begin to feel like an entitlement. That point is illustrated in a joke from the opening scene of Fiddler on the Roof:

    A villager says to Nachum the Beggar, “Here, Reb Nachum, here’s one kopek.” Nachum responds, “One kopek? Last week you gave me two kopeks!” The villager tells the beggar, “I had a bad week.” And Nachum says, “So? If you had a bad week, why should I suffer?”

    The WaPo article took the POV of Nachum the Beggar. WaPo assumed that simply because a certain amount of money had been donated to the needy in the past, they were entitled to keep getting that amount of money (or more) going forward. Otherwise, in WaPo's melodramatic metaphor, we'd be taking a machete to their programs.

  5. What myth you want to tell next, David? The welfare queen driving a brand new Caddy and living in the Waldorff Astoria?

    You want to know the biggest give-away in the history of the United States? It was the Bush tax cuts which went right into the bank accounts of the wealthy and super-wealthy, at the very time he was fighting two wars off the books.

    And THAT, sir, is what damn near bankrupted this nation, not the so-called "entitlement" programs for the poor that exist only in your head.

    Or have you forgotten that Bill Clinton ended welfare as an entitlement?

  6. "Neither Paul Ryan nor I am proposing to end government programs that help the needy."

    Megalomania anyone?

  7. We tend to forget that David in Cal's mercantile world-view, whose underlying assumptions were seconded by Matt in the Crown, is an abomination unique to English-speaking counties with Anglo-Saxon origins, and ruling classes of the Third World. Dividing society into parasites and producers would simply never occur to the citizens of most industrial democracies today. Greed may be everywhere, but it takes a peculiar kind to divide the world in quite this way, and is much less common then folks like David in Cal appear to think. This is one reason that countries with much less private wealth than ours have far higher quality of life.

    However, let's use David in Cal's measure, for a moment. How many of our top 1% -- and .1% -- produce anything of value? Paul Volker, who should know something of the matter, famously remarked that the only productive financial innovation of the last 20+ years was the ATM machine, which would make a lot of fabulously wealth people the biggest parasites on earth.

    1. Let's start with the ten richest Americans, Anon, and see whether they contributed.

      Bill Gates contributed hugely to the computer, as we all know.

      Warren Buffett ran a host of companies extremely well. These companies serve the public in a multitude of ways.

      Larry Ellison creates software that's evidently of great value, because Oracle sells it for a lot of money.

      Charles and David Koch run a company that does all sorts of useful things, such as wood products, pollution control equipment, fertilizers, ranching, etc.

      Christy Walton is the heir of Sam Walton, whose stores sold stuff for less, thus benefiting particularly the poor.

      The next two on the list, Sheldon Adelson and George Soros are more questionable. Adelson made his money via gambling establishments and Soros via superb investing. Arguably gambling provides recreation. Clever investing certainly benefited Soros's clients, but I'm not sure it benefits society as a whole.

      Numbers 9 and 10 are more Walton heirs.

    2. With heroes like those, David in Cal, your values become clearer still.

      Bill Gates' main stroke of genius was to acquire the rights to re-market PC-DOS, which was based on CP/M and which he himself didn't write anyway. The rest of us have been living with his bloated products and sorry monopolistic legacy, and paying the Microsoft tax every time we buy a PC, ever since.

      When Warren Buffett was asked about how, as a majority owner of Moody's, he knowingly allowed the company to give junk bonds AAA ratings year after year, he answered that he never interferes with a successful business model. And of course Buffett has been gaming the tax laws for years, which is no doubt of great benefit of society.

      I don't have the competence to assess Oracle, but the fact that you're convinced that anything which makes a lot of money must be grand, and it's own justification, speaks for itself.

      The Koch's and the Waltons -- we won't get started on that. But your admiration speaks volumes.

      Glad to hear you have reservations about folks who benefit themselves their clients but not society as a whole. Of course, the example of Soros is par for the course, being who you are, but I'd suggest you could enlarge that orbit somewhat quite a number of Republicans and Masters of the Universe.

    3. Without addressing each exemplar listed by DinC, the Waltons are heirs, who did nothing but be lucky enough to be the children of a multi-billionaire. No death tax should be paid to reduce such people's inheritances, and to make up for it, we need to reduce (though not end) the paltry benefits of parasites, according to Paul Ryan and you. Parasite is a repulsive word, used by the Nazis to justify the extermination of humanbeings.

    4. I love that DinC thinks the Walton heirs benefit society while a disabled veteran is a "parasite."

      Nice worldview ya got there DinC!

    5. So three of of David's mega-producing wealthiest are HEIRS? They earned their money the old-fashioned way: They inherited it.

  8. DinC,

    This is the class war. Even though the economy works best when there is a constant distribution to the many, so that your beloved free markets have liquidity, you can't help but bring morality into it. The poor don't do enough to satisfy you. It's not economics nor practicality, but ethics. They didn't earn it. You cut off your nose to spite your face just because you have an irrational hatred of the less well off. You make up rationalizations about budget projections and future inflation, and use metaphors that don't apply like household budgets (households can't print their own money - they are nothing like a government budget), just to stick it to people that are not wealthy. This is the class war.

    1. And that is precisely the argument the Tea Partiers espouse.
      They retired after age 65, therefore they fully endowed the system during a lifetime of work.
      Those that get Medicaid and welfare are jumping in the front of the line and have not contributed their fair share, and thus are parasites living off taxpayers.
      Of course they have in for the "50% that pay no taxes" as well.