Monday, September 3, 2012

Paul Ryan's Inconsistent Address

Much ink has been spilled concerning the various lies and distortions in Paul Ryan's address at the Republican National Convention, but I want to focus on an Inconsistency he commits. As a reminder, Inconsistency occurs when one part of a persons argument contradicts another part of that argument. Let's look at the relevant passages (a transcript can be found here). First, Ryan attacks Obama for cutting $716 billion from Medicare (it is actually not a cut, but a plan to reform Medicare Advantage reduce reimbursement rates to doctors, thereby saving $716 billion). About this, Ryan said:
You see, even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn't have enough money. They needed more. They needed hundreds of billions more. So, they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama. An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed, all to pay for a new entitlement we didn't even ask for. The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we're going to stop it.
In Congress, when they take out the heavy books and wall charts about Medicare, my thoughts go back to a house on Garfield Street in Janesville. My wonderful grandma, Janet, had Alzheimer's and moved in with Mom and me. Though she felt lost at times, we did all the little things that made her feel loved.
We had help from Medicare, and it was there, just like it's there for my Mom today. Medicare is a promise, and we will honor it. A Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare, for my Mom's generation, for my generation, and for my kids and yours.
Ignoring for the moment that Ryan's own budget plan makes nearly identical cuts, and that restoring such cuts would actually speed up the point at which Medicare would become insolvent and increase premiums for seniors, he goes in in the speech to argue for the need to cut entitlements:
None of us have to settle for the best this administration offers – a dull, adventureless journey from one entitlement to the next, a government-planned life, a country where everything is free but us.
So, he will defend entitlements like Medicare by restoring a cut made to it, thereby increasing its size, but at the same time will reduce entitlements.  I think Matt Taibbi summarized this argument best as:
My fellow Americans, whatever Barack Obama is doing with Medicare, it's bad, and we promise to reverse it!
And not only that, we'll go even further in cutting wasteful entitlements from our bloated government budget!
And here we can clearly see the inconsistency in the argument. On one hand he will defend entitlements, but on the other hand he will cut them.  So, which one is it?

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