Paul Krugman to Paul Ryan: “The Truth Hurts“

Paul Krugman to Paul Ryan The Truth Hurts

(Image: CartoonArts International / The New York Times Syndicate)

During a recent speech, Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, expressed outrage over what President Obama has been saying lately.

“Just last week, the president told a crowd in North Carolina that Republicans are in favor of, quote, ‘dirtier air, dirtier water and less people with health insurance,’ ” Mr. Ryan said at a gathering at The Heritage Foundation on Oct. 26. “Can you think of a pettier way to describe sincere disagreements between the two parties on regulation and health care?”

Just for the record: Why is this petty? Why is it anything but a literal description of Republican proposals to weaken environmental regulation and repeal the Affordable Care Act?

I mean, to the extent that the G.O.P. has a coherent case on environmental regulation, it is that the economic payoff from weaker regulation would more than compensate for the dirtier air and water.

Is anyone really claiming that less regulation won’t mean more pollution?

And Republicans have not proposed anything that would make up for the loss of the measures in the Affordable Care Act that would lead to more people being insured.

Let me also point out that whatever else you think of it, Romneycare — which is essentially the same as the Affordable Care Act — clearly has sharply reduced the number of uninsured people in Massachusetts.

So Mr. Ryan is outraged — outraged — that Mr. Obama is offering a wholly accurate description of his party’s platform.

Let me add that this illustrates a point that many commenters here don’t seem to get: Criticism of policy proposals is not the same thing as an ad hominem attack.

If I say that Paul Ryan’s mother was a hamster and his father smelt of elderberries, that’s ad hominem. If I say that his plan would hurt millions of people and that he’s not being honest about the numbers, that’s harsh, but not ad hominem.

And you really have to be somewhat awed when people who routinely accuse Mr. Obama of being a socialist get all weepy over his saying that eliminating protections against pollution would lead to more pollution.

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Paul Krugman joined The New York Times in 1999 as a columnist on the Op-Ed page and continues as a professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University. He was awarded the Nobel in economic science in 2008.

Mr Krugman is the author or editor of 20 books and more than 200 papers in professional journals and edited volumes, including “The Return of Depression Economics” (2008) and “The Conscience of a Liberal” (2007). Copyright 2011 The New York Times.