The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Numbers

Lets begin with a core concept-- the only true threats to Social Security and Medicare are Social Security and Medicare. In their current form, they are unsustainable and as a consequence, fundamental changes will have to be made. The President and his supporters have adopted three strategies to deal with this. The first is denial--suggesting that things aren't that bad, that tiny tweaks can save these massive entitlements. Second, they have adopted avoidance--studiously avoiding any advice (think Simpson-Boles) or any substantive discussion that might suggest meaningful modifications that could save these programs. The third strategy is demonization and demagoguery, characterizing anyone in the opposing party who has the courage to recommend actual modifications as (1) pushing granny off a cliff or (2) recommending cuts that "punish the most vulnerable among us."

These strategies play on emotion and they have been successful, even though they are cowardly and dishonest. But no matter, the one thing that the Obama campaign must avoid at all cost is honesty, because when you look at an honest breakdown of entitlements (or budget or deficit) numbers, the abject failure of this president's policies and lack of action is hard to ignore.

Enter Paul Ryan.

For a decade,Paul Ryan has exhibited a level of courage that is rare in a politican. He has risked the proverbial third rail of politics and stated unequivocally that unless something is done, social security and medicare will fail. He has offered concrete suggestions to help these programs avoid bankruptcy. He has proposed an actual federal budget, something that Barack Obama and his Democrat collegues have not done for the past 3.5 years. This unprecedented dereliction of duty has allowed them to demonize anyone who has put hard budget numbers onto paper, but enabled them to offer only abstractions as their own alternative. It has allowed them to depict Paul Ryan as an ogre, but at the same time enabled them to embrace the fantasy that federal debt will somehow be reduced if only the rich paid their "fair share" and that entitlements will survive if only we address "fraud and abuse." they embrace class warfare--a very dangerous game--because class warfare isn't about numbers, it's about emotion, and emotion within the electorate is the only chance that Barack Obama has to win reelection.

It's hard to say that a substantive debate that focuses on the size of government, the threat of profligate spending, the ever-growing debt, and the burden of entitlements will be more powerful that a irresponsible plea to emotion, but it's a chance worth taking for Romney and Ryan.

Paul Ryan will join that debate. He'll shake off the hysterical and wholly unfounded chargers that have already been leveled against him by Obama and his supporters in politics and the media. He'll talk about the numbers. He'll calmly discuss the reasons for change (not the vacuous "change" that Obama suggested in 2008, but specific changes to spending, to the deficit, to entitlements) that can help dig this country out of the hole it is in.

Paul Ryan is everything that Barack Obama isn't, and for all their bravado, I suspect that many democrats are more than a little frightened that his augument just might gain traction. And if it does, the electorate will make the right choice in November.