But while Ryan's plan is still at heart a proposal to eviscerate Medicare, he does have some new bling. For example, this plan claims to balance the budget by 2023. In an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal, Ryan worked feverishly to dispel the notion that a balanced budget represents austerity, a sign that he's entering this process in a defensive crouch. Ryan spent more time talking about tax reform, welfare reform, and the Keystone XL pipeline than he did about his plan to turn Medicare into a voucher plan, an indication that even Ryan knows that if his Medicare plan is the main thing people take away from this budget unveiling, he and Republicans are in a big mess.
But while Democrats will certainly—and rightfully—pound Ryan for his Medicare vision and for the steep cuts in other programs that his plan would make necessary, there's one big question that will likely not get the attention it deserves: Why, with the deficit having fallen by nearly half since 2009, are we spending more time debating fiscal policy than jobs policy? We're making faster progress on the deficit than on growing the economy and adding jobs. With interest rates as low as they are, and the jobless rate as high as it is, this deficit obsession is stupid, destructive, and exactly the wrong thing for D.C. to be focused on.
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