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Who is the Real Con Man: Ryan or Krugman?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Editor's note: This column was co-authored by Peter Ferrara.

Writing about Republicans in U.S. House of Representatives, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says Paul Ryan is “basically, the best con man they’ve got.” He goes on to characterize the modern Republican Party” as “a post-policy enterprise, which doesn’t do real solutions to real problems.”


We think the reverse is true. It is Paul Krugman who is the con artist with no real solutions to our most important economic problems. Paul Ryan, by contrast, has put forth bold policy proposals that have been favorably scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and are actually closer to mainstream economic thinking than Krugman’s.

New York Times readers may be surprised to learn just how out of touch Paul Krugman is with his fellow economists:

· Whereas Krugman has repeatedly claimed that there is no entitlement-spending crisis, more than 1,000 economists – representing the left and the right and 11 Nobel Laureates -- have endorsed legislation that would require the federal government to regularly report on the extent of the crisis.

· While virtually all economists these days understand the harmfulness of high marginal tax rates and most probably prefer a progressive flat tax, Krugman is out on the fringe – claiming that a top rate of 90 percent would cause no serious damage.

· While Paul Krugman regularly praises the Rube Goldberg health reform we call Obamacare, President Obama’s own chief economic advisor has endorsed an approach that is much closer to the health reform advocated by Paul Ryan and John McCain.

Although the New York Times regularly brags about the fact that Krugman has a Nobel Prize, his fellow economists increasingly view him as somewhat of a kook – serving more as a shill for the Democratic Party rather that someone who writes about serious economics.


For example, since 2011, the United States has followed what Krugman calls a policy of “austerity.” All along the way he has protested that such policies would prolong the recession and even push us into a “low-grade depression.”

In fact, the opposite occurred. As Jeffrey Sachs, who is every bit as left wing as Krugman, wrote the other day “rather than a new recession, or an ongoing depression, the US unemployment rate has fallen” and economic growth has picked up.

So did Krugman admit his errors and ask for his readers’ forgiveness? Not at all. In an incredible act of intellectual dishonesty, he asserted his predictions were right all along. As Sachs notes:

Krugman took a victory lap in his end-of-2014 column on “The Obama Recovery” … [making] the incredible claim … that everything has turned out just as he predicted.

University of Chicago economist John Cochrane writes that Krugman’s economic view of the world is not taught in any major economics graduate schools, is not taken seriously at academic conferences and is not considered acceptable by any professional economics journals.

Paul Ryan’s Roadmap, by sharp contrast, is grounded in reality. His proposals include comprehensive entitlement reform -- scored by CBO as balancing the federal budget permanently over the long run, with both taxes and spending at their long run, postwar, historical averages of 18.6 percent of GDP. The plan proposes tax reform with just two rates, 10 percent on family income up to $100,000, and 25 percent above that.


The Ryan Roadmap would allow private Social Security accounts – similar to the reforms that have been enacted in more than 30 countries around the world. According to the CBO, this reform would eliminate the long term unfunded liability in Social Security deficits, and leave workers with better benefits than they would have under the current system.

The Roadmap would also achieve permanent, full solvency for Medicare. Although Ryan has called this approach “premium support,” it is actually little more than a liberalization of the highly popular Medicare Advantage program, under which about one-third of all seniors have enrolled in private health plans, putting Medicare on a sound economic footing.

The Roadmap also proposed health reform before Obamacare was even adopted, ensuring universal access to essential health care for all Americans. By contrast, the CBO has scored Obamacare as leaving 30 million Americans still uninsured 10 years after full implementation! Ryan’s health reform involves a Universal Health Insurance tax credit for all, set roughly at the cost of enrolling people in Medicaid. Every family would be assured of Medicaid-like insurance as a backup safety net and they (and their employers) would be free to purchase more options and better options with their own after-tax dollars.


Without the Obamacare mandates, everyone could choose insurance that meets individual and family needs, rather than the needs of politicians and special interests.

CBO has scored the massive reductions in federal taxes, spending and debt under the Ryan Roadmap as producing a booming economy, the creation of millions of jobs, higher wages and incomes, and long term prosperity. Transparently, Ryan’s Roadmap involves a brilliant and brave exercise in leadership.

That is why House Republicans now want to elevate him to the third highest office in the land.

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