Ryan Budget: Compassionate Conservatism Goes Kaput

April 12th, 2011 at 2:03 am David Frum | 63 Comments |

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This is part one. Click here to read the entire series.

Don’t miss Yuval Levin’s piece in the current National Affairs, “Beyond the Welfare State.”

The piece is interesting and important for many reasons, but not least because of its author’s background: a prominent Bush domestic policy staffer, Levin has spent a lot of time pondering the question: “What is/was compassionate conservatism?”

Based on his new essay, the answer seems to be: compassionate conservatism is kaput.

Instead of the old emphasis on government aid to faith-based charities – government tax support for the poor – and the expansion of government health insurance for the elderly, Levin’s new vision endorses the Paul Ryan idea of radical reductions in government’s social insurance function.

“Beyond the Welfare State” urges a new approach to conservative domestic policy based on 5 key ideas:

1) Lower and flatter tax rates – likely meaning a further tax cut from today’s top rate, along the lines proposed by the Ryan budget plan, with elimination of most deductions, credits, and tax expenditures.

2) Means-testing of all government programs, including retirement security for those under-55s. Again this follows the ideas in the Ryan budget plan, whereby most under 55s will over time lose their claim on most government assistance.

3) Means-tested subsidies to support health insurance for those who cannot afford the full cost, within a marketplace regulated by the states.

4) Radical reductions in domestic discretionary spending.

5) Radical reductions in the administrative power of the state – including its monetary policies, which would adhere instead to fixed and predictable rules.

Levin acknowledges that this program will be politically unpalatable:

It will require extraordinary sacrifices from today’s young Americans, who will need to continue paying the taxes necessary to support the retirements of their parents and grandparents while denying themselves the same level of benefits so their children and grandchildren can thrive.

And since these “extraordinary sacrifices” are joined to a tax cut for high-bracket taxpayers, it’s not difficult to imagine how the plan might meet resistance.

But let’s leave the politics aside and consider the merits:

What to think about such a program as the basis for a new kind of conservatism? What would it accomplish, where would it put us?

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63 Comments so far ↓

  • hisgirlfriday

    What to think about such a program as the basis for a new kind of conservatism? What would it accomplish, where would it put us?

    It would accomplish more unemployment, hunger, ignorance and sickness and it would put us back to the Gilded Age.

    And I would just point out to Yuval Levin that us younger Americans already are and have been making “extraordinary sacrifices” for the last ten years. It hasn’t been Baby Boomers serving four and five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example.

    In addition, it hasn’t been Gen X or Millenials in the workforce reaping the lion’s share of windfalls from the Bush tax cuts either. Do conservatives get that you borrowed from us, the people whose Medicare and Social Security you now want to cut, to pay for your tax cuts during the 2000s that destroyed our government’s surplus? Don’t you feel ANY moral responsibility to pay back that loan we gave you with something but contempt and lectures about austerity?

    We’ve been coping with the crap economy the last ten years with its crushing debt for higher education that we can’t get a job without. We’ve dealt with a weak job market, flat and falling wages and have watched our 401ks go essentially nowhere the entire time we’ve been invested in the stock market.

    And now we are being told by people like Paul Ryan that as the Baby Boomers leave the workforce that it’s austerity time for us… but no benefit cuts for them? Oh and by the way, we need to eliminate middle class tax breaks on things like childcare and mortgage interest that would benefit us Gen X/Millennials the most so we can lower the tax rate on the wealthy to the rate it was back in 1931 when the architect of the Great Depression, Andrew Mellon, was in charge of things? Are you effing kidding me?

    Would it kill politicians to ask Baby Boomers for once in their lives to suck it up for the good of the country like their parents did? I mean it’s their vanity and self-absorption that discredited war protesting in this country forever so that 40 years later we find ourselves right back in Vietnam again except this time with no end in sight. And it’s their drug and sexual excesses that brought us the worthless War and Drugs and injected the Moral Majority crusaders into our politics.

    Is the political class in Washington (both Republicans and Democrats) TRYING to foment generational wars along with class wars here or something? I seriously don’t get it.

    • jerseychix

      Thank you, you are so right HGF.

      It seems extremely convenient now to say that compassionate conservatism (which always seemed like a joke anyway) is now out, since you all spent the money already, promised the moon to old people, and are now taking the rug out from everyone under 40.

      What would it accomplish and where would it put us? The fact is that the Ryan plan is going to impoverish women under 40. Because now, not only do we have to raise the kids, survive in a workplace where wages are falling, work longer, and save more money than we actually make if we want to not eat cat food in retirement; we are now going to have to do it while caring for the world’s most narcissistic generation with no help.

      Do not be surprised when the number of homeless elderly people go up. I expect the Southern Baptist Convention to step up to the plate, but I am dreaming.

    • trk113

      To HisGirlFriday, JerseyChix and Primrose…let’s fine tune the anti-Boomer rhetoric a bit. The Baby Boom lasted from 1946 through 1964. They are talking about rolling back benefits for anyone under the age of 55. Do the math, that means starting with anyone born in 1956, about halfway through the Baby Boom. I don’t argue that there are a huge amount of problems with the demographic bubble that we call the Baby Boom, but the younger half of the Boom is in the same boat as Gen-X and whatever other generations follow.

      I was born in 1958, so grew up with everything already stretched to the limit as a result of the older Boomers having already sucked all the oxygen out of the room. Colleges were already bloated, apartments were full, start up housing prices were already run up, etc. by the time we got there. I don’t disagree with what you say about the Boom generation, but I am from somewhere of the middle of it and my experience is a lot more like yours than it is of the generation you are taking issue with. As usual, categorization isn’t as tidy as we’d like it to be, which is why it’s a bad idea.

  • Smargalicious

    Wow. ^Look at the blame game folks already. Blaming everyone except the guilty: millions upon millions of fatherless welfare citizens, illegals, and their anchor babies sucking the nation into an economic apocalypse.

    We must prepare for when the free handouts stop. Are you prepared for the riots, looting, and anarchy?

    Best to arm yourselves, buy seeds, and get ready.

    • TJ Parker

      LOL! “Economic apocalypse”! Are you really gambling that everyone has forgotten who trashed the economy in 2008? Shameless.

    • politicalfan

      Smarg are you even 18 years old? Your responses are that of a very young person who has never struggled to pay the rent. There is still hope. Think “Scrooge.”

      How many people in the USA are homeless due to a variety of reasons? How many people are on the edge are about to become homeless” Look at the unemployment rate folks. We have seen over and over again how extreme wealth and poverty do not work well together.

      Seriously? I am tired of some touting faith and the contitution while having total disregard for those who are struggling. I know folks that have many jobs who are trying to just make it at the end of the day. Why are we painting people with a broad brush? What happened to a ‘hand-up?’

      If your issue is with ‘welfare’ encourage the govt to cut down on areas of fraud. Select your state and ask yourself, can you live on food stamps? Or simply medicare and social security? There are a lot of people that do. What happened to ‘we are all God’s chidren?’

      • Smargalicious

        fannie, no need for condescension, please. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

        Ever seen a morbidly obese mother waddling down the aisle of a grocery store, wearing a dirty pink lycra jumpsuit, throwing sugared cereal, cookies, chips, and other assorted unhealthy foods into an overloaded basket? And then, as she tells her four overweight children each most likely with different baby daddies to go to the register, she pulls out her welfare, WIC, and USDA Food Stamps to pay for the pig slop she throws on the counter??

        I have.

        You certainly lead a sheltered life, it seems.

        • politicalfan


          Stereotyping is rough business. I just think you’re painting a lot of folks with a broad brush. Do you realize how many people need assistance in our country? Do you know the current statistical data for those using and living off of (medicare and social security)?

          There are a lot of people working in jobs that do not have benefit options (retirement plans) etc. People live check to check. Do you honestly know the state min wage is in many states (and there are those that think there should not be a min)? You’re not thinking outside of the boundaries of your annoyance.

          Evidently, you’ve never met a single parent who was raising their kids on their own because they were widowed (or a parent who works several jobs so their kids can by shoes to play sports). There are many stories out there Smarg and folks that don’t like to get help because of the stereotypes that are out there. (Like yours for instance). This is beyond party line and lack of looking at the data is politically naive. I apologize for being rude but I just can’t believe that you’re lacking a heart (as sometimes your comments seem to reflect).

          If your for continued education, better job development, and a ‘hand-up’ then we probably agree. In a lagging economy, it is silly to think that people will simply say, “take everything from me, I don’t need the help.” What is your solution? Explain why you know what you’re talking about. Instead of the flame tossing, please indulge us!


          Do the math.

        • olnpvx

          The reason that the “obese mother” “throwing ….unhealthy food…” is that the unhealthy food is much cheaper than healthy vegetables, fruits, variety of sea foods in providing energy which sustains the mere existence of individual.

        • LauraNo

          Conservatism has never been compassionate, that’s an oxymoron. I thought this comment was a good place to put my own comment.

  • SteveThompson

    So far, the proposed cuts are a tiny fraction of what is needed to reach balance over the coming decades as unfunded entitlement program expenses rise. Even the proposed cuts from Senator Ryan will make very little difference to the $100 trillion shortfall in funding over the next 25 years.

    Here’s an article that examines what might trigger a debt crisis in the United States and when that could occur:


    We are not seeing any concrete and meaningful action to fix a problem that will plague us for generations; all we are seeing is government trying to score political points in an attempt to sway voters.

  • StarSpangledSpanner

    A major USA political party has officially…………….

    Jumped the Shark.

    • mc419

      I’ve often thought about this in terms of young people’s perception of “The Greatest Generation”. I notice that most young people – who are libertarians, the only young people I know who refer to themselves as Conservative are evangelical Christians – already nuture feelings of dismissivness for their grandparents generation. A lot of this is borne out of ignorace (hearing about life during the depression and my grandfather’s combat in the Pacific was one of my cherished memories of my grandmother) but at least some of it originates with genuine disapointment (hearing my other grandmother call the president the N-word, while listening to her babble about the end times cured me of my belief that age equals wisdom).
      I’m afraid that this style of Conservatism will do nothing to help the GOP, and will only create more Libertarians.

  • StarSpangledSpanner

    “It will require extraordinary sacrifices from today’s young Americans, who will need to continue paying the taxes necessary to support the retirements of their parents and grandparents while denying themselves the same level of benefits so their children and grandchildren can thrive.”

    What he should say is.

    It will require extraordinary sacrifices from today’s young Americans, who will need to continue paying the taxes necessary to support the 25% TAX RATE ON MILLIONAIRES AND BILLIONAIRES while denying themselves the same level of benefits so their children and grandchildren can thrive.

    Disgusting and immoral.

    • Nanotek

      “What he should say is. It will require extraordinary sacrifices from today’s young Americans, who will need to continue paying the taxes necessary to support the 25% TAX RATE ON MILLIONAIRES AND BILLIONAIRES while denying themselves the same level of benefits so their children and grandchildren can thrive.”

      StarSpangledSpanner +1

      when someone calls for “sacrifice” you can be sure they are referring to others …usually the weakest … when these “conservatives” start calling for “extraordinary sacrifice” from people who are making amounts of money as never before see in human history while being taxed at 1931 rates, I’ll lend them an ear

      the Republican war on working class Americans continues unabated … and Obama is helping them, unfortunately

  • Primrose

    His girl friday and Jerseychix. Yes. Yes. And Yes.

    I still don’t understand why my generation and the younger one have to scrabble around in the dirt paying for everyone without receiving benefit but people who have plenty of money don’t? It doesn’t return to the economy.

    Nor do I buy that we are doing “this sacrificing” so that our children will thrive, for if our children are ill-fed, uncared for, badly educated as children and unable to afford college, their lives look pretty bleak, debt or no debt.

    No this is once again sorting Americans into the Beautiful People and the rest of us. The Beautiful People do enough just existing, it would be unfair to ask anything of them, like paying taxes.

  • Stan

    Ryan’s plan is Starve the Beast in action: cut taxes on the wealthy, watch while the national debt increases, and then use the deficit as an excuse to cut social programs and attack labor unions. It’s brilliant, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it works. But it’s also disgusting to anybody with a conscience.

    • armstp


      You are exactly right. The deficit and debt are just strawmen to push a small government ideology. Both the CBO and the OMB are forecasting that the deficit will largely correct itself by 2014/2015, as the economy returns and the extension of the Bush tax cuts expire. The deficit will be back down to about 3% of GDP, which is close to its 60 year historic average.

      If you doubt this then take a look at the numbers in the latest CBO report:

      See page 15 and page 18.


      Long-term we will have to tackle healthcare costs (both private sector and public) and decide if we want to do anything on social security to make people whole. However, there is nothing urgent that needs to be done right now.

  • TerryF98

    If you want to read a good honest appraisal of Ryan’s “plan” this is worth a go.


  • ottovbvs

    Compassionate conservatism was never anything other than a slogan intended as cover for achieving the traditional Republican objectives of rolling back the social programs of the New Deal/Great Society and reducing the tax burden on the wealthiest 5% of the country. It was adopted because political strategists and leaders of the the GOP knew that if they came right out and said they were going to privatise SS and dismantle Medicare/Medicaid then holy hell would break loose. As it did when Bush proposed to privatize SS in 2004 and beat a hasty retreat.

    Now the bulk of the Republican party has decided it’s safe to come right out and admit they are going to dismantle the welfare state, and Ryan has produced a blueprint for how they intend to do this (although its based on doctored numbers and weird assumptions). Levin is essentially saying the same thing and DF urges a discussion of its merits. Well it has no merits, it’s a fantasy, like the conservative claim that invading Iraq was going to transform the middle east. In fact it’s probably going to turn into the longest suicide note in history when the full import of what they are proposing begins to dawn on the American public. Essentially they’re proposing to dismantle Medicare/Medicaid (SS would be next) in order to reduce the tax burden on the wealthiest 5% of the country and corporations. Taking Medicare alone, patient out of pockets are going to rise from around 25% of cost to 70%. The effect of this will be to pauperize not just most of the elderly who are major consumers of healthcare but also their families who will have to chip in to help out mom and dad.

    I’m quite happy the Republicans have made clear what they propose and as a piece in this morning’s NYT points out Republicans in congress and Republican candidates for president are all going to have to take a position on this and many of them are very nervous. They need to be because they’ve just given the Democrats the wedge issue for 2012. I suspect this is why Obama is taking to the airwaves tomorrow night to highlight exactly the differences in philosophy. What I expect him to say is something along these lines:

    1)Unlike Republicans the Democratic party is not going to privatize or dismantle SS, Medicare or Medicaid but these programs need some modest tweaks. We’re certainly not going to scrap them to provide tax cuts for the wealthy.

    2)We do have a deficit problem and once the economy is operating at near to full capacity again we’re going to have to raise taxes to fund these programs properly and pay for wars I didn’t start.

    3) The choice is yours

    • trk113

      Great post. Compassionate Conservatism was the catchphrase only 11 years ago, back when conservatism could not yet come clean that it was going for the throat of what they called the welfare or nanny state. Clearly, the gloves are off now. With the “browning” of America, the window of opportunity to get this agenda in place is running out, so look out for a full court press to roll back America to the 19th century before we become a minority majority nation in the next few decades.

  • tommybones

    “What would it accomplish, where would it put us?”

    Easy answer. The United States would officially become a banana republic. Why modern-day conservatives prefer this option, I have no idea.

  • kuri3460

    What to think about such a program as the basis for a new kind of conservatism? What would it accomplish, where would it put us?

    What would it accomplish? Quite possible the quick and speedy demise of the Republican Party as a viable, national political entity.

    Somehow, far too many Republicans and conservatives have managed to back themselves into a corner where they believe that taxes are simply a punishment for success, not the price of living in a civilized society, consumer regulations are just impediments to business, not valid and reasonable safeguards that we all benefit from, and every brown or black-skinned person who receives any type of state or federal assistance is a freeloader, while any gray-haired white person who does the same is just “getting what they paid for”.

    There is waste in our system along with a need for reform. But by and large, the system benefits us all, and it’s important to remember that its still government of the PEOPLE, by the PEOPLE, and for the PEOPLE.

    Just like in the healthcare debate, Republicans run the risk of marginalizing themselves even further as they continute to dabble in this nonsense.

  • sdspringy

    Taxing will not even slow the rise of the deficit, there are not enough of the so called wealthy available to support the current government programs. Even at tax rates above 50% could the current level of spending be paid for.

    The Democrats have been selling the notion that SS/Medicare are there to provide for retirement benefits. Not true, never has been. SS was never meant to pay for a life in retirement unless that was a bare existence of living.

    Medicare recieves around 50K per person during their life time of work yet spends 150k in benefits. See the math problem there, who want to pay 20% payroll tax to support the medical decisions during the last 30 days of care. Everyone wants to recieve the care that Ted Kennedy received yet pay the amount in payroll tax of a McDonalds worker.

    The compassionate part finally comes in to pay where someone says No.

    • ottovbvs

      [i]Taxing will not even slow the rise of the deficit…Even at tax rates above 50% could the current level of spending be paid for.

      You’re lying again Springy . Return tax rates to where they were during the bulk of the Clinton presidency (which means a general rise not just on the wealthy although obviously the greater burden falls on them) which when combined with economic recovery would return the tax take to around 23% of GDP and you’ve largely solved the problem. This would mean taking the top marginal rates back to around 40% NOT 50%! The top rate is now 35%, when the Bush cuts expire it goes back to 39% and allowing ALL the Bush cuts to expire gets you three quarters of the way there to the tax hikes needed. Why do you feel the need to peddle this nonsense. You claim to be a business person but pay no attention to the numbers which are very well documented.

      • armstp


        It is all a tax revenue problem and nothing else.

        Tax receipts as a percentage of GDP are currently at 14.8%, which is the lowest level since 1950. This is because of the recession and the Bush tax cuts. Spending is about 22-23% of GDP, which close to the historic average of 20-21%. If you factor out the emergency spending because of the recession, spending has actually gone down in recent years. As the economy returns and tax revenue per GDP gets back to about 20%, the deficit will largely disappear and the deficit should get back to its historic average of about 3% of GDP.

        Again, it is all a tax revenue problem. The only thing the GOP is proposing is to make the deficit even more of a tax revenue problem.

    • Nanotek

      “Taxing will not even slow the rise of the deficit, there are not enough of the so called wealthy available to support the current government programs.”

      oh yeah there are … let’s end the Republican war on the working class and give it a try. Start there before we start letting people die from lack of adequate health care to placate whining conservatives.

      GE made $14 billion last year and paid no taxes. Any secretary at GE paid more in taxes than it. Time to end that little circus.

  • tommybones

    The term “Compassionate Conservatism” has always been nothing more than a bumper sticker. Conservatism has always meant one thing and one thing only; protecting those in power (i.e. the wealthy) from the will of the masses. That’s what conservatism has been since the dawn of modern civilization. It’s NEVER been compassionate. And never will be. Any discussion of compassion is merely lip-service. Conservative policies are never compassionate. It’s the antithesis of compassion.

    • Smargalicious

      tommy, ‘compassion/progressivism/liberalism’ resulted in what you see today: a parasitic, socialist welfare state called America.

      Just go to the southeast side of D.C. and you’ll see what I mean.

      • politicalfan

        Is smargal a decoy? Geesh! Flame thrower.

        • Primrose

          Political Fan, Smarg is troll of the game playing variety. In response to the Ivory Coast deal he made a cannibalism reference. He/She/It increases the level of claims to rile us all up. Statements that claim some intimate knowledge of the poor but throw out the same old stereotypes, but never quite explain. Smarg has at once claimed to witness the impeachment and be the same age as the graduates who campaigned for Obama and as mentioned this special knowledge of poverty. See how often the word parasite comes up when no one is paying attention to Smarg’s comments.

          I suppose perhaps, Smarg doesn’t even know he/she/it is doing it, perhaps it’s a deep-seated psychological need for attention that causes S. to rachet things up. Either way I pity such trolls, but none of us should give he/she/it any attention: starve the beast.

        • politicalfan

          Primrose- I see the psychological rational behind not responding. However, the comments are exactly why many of the Republican candidates concern me. There is an emphasis on rhetoric that serves no purpose but to flame the conversation.

          There are a lot of people who buy in to it and that is what is concerning. I actually want a good Republican candidate to run. I might be a hopeful optimist but it would be refreshing to see a candidate that could challenge the President on intellect and real solutions.

        • Primrose

          Oh, I’m not very virtuous in the not responding area, Political Fan. I too wish for a sane Republican candidate and worry about silence equalling acquiescence, and will respond (and yes at length) to some here who hold what I might consider extreme views, or at any rate ones I disagree with extremely. But they tend to hold their views because they hold their views. They don’t up the ante. They limit the name calling. They are clearly trying to persuade others to their side.

          That’s quite different than this particular case (and possibly a few others, though none so clearly). Is there a disrespectful way to talk, then that is chosen. Is there over-blown language, then that word used. Is there a way to say it that would offend fewer people (never, never implemented). Even the name feels a bit full of adolescent braggaocio, a bit of hipster look at me’ism.

          That’s why I think this case is different, and why a massive snub is the answer. We want to find a way to talk to each other with something approaching civility, even those with whom we disagree. Trolls want to be sure the site feels like Mad Max’s Thunderdome.

          If they are allowed to flourish, sane people will flee the site, and sanity will retreat even further from political discussion.

  • Raskolnik

    In all fairness, I don’t believe Frum was ignorant of these points. I think rather that he is inviting fellow conservatives to seriously spend time mentally digesting the full ramifications of a document like the one Ryan produced.

    “Compassionate conservatism” was supposed to mean providing structures and institutions which worked effectively, holistically, to empower the disempowered with the ability to help themselves.–the proverbial “hand-up” (vs. “hand-out”). It turned out to be neocon code for eliminating disfavored social programs by reducing taxes on the richest people in the nation. The trajectory seems to have reached its nadir with Ryan’s manifesto, at least I hope so…

    • ottovbvs

      In all fairness, I don’t believe Frum was ignorant of these points.

      Yes I think he fully realises it’s potentially the longest suicide note in history. In politics fig leafs like compassionate conservatism are essential

  • NCScientist

    In order to maintain the position of the financial and political elites, the rest of us will have to freeze in the dark and eat grass? Not likely to turn out like that. How about this, instead: Close most of the hundreds of military bases around the world that don’t benefit poor and middle class Americans, cut the Pentagon budget by 50%, cut funding to Israel, start making corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share. Failure to do this will result in class/generational warfare, instability, continued decline in the standard of living, and the Balkanization of the United States. We simply can’t afford to be the world’s policeman and subsisidize the lifestyle of the uberwealthy plutocrats.

    • Nanotek

      “In order to maintain the position of the financial and political elites, the rest of us will have to freeze in the dark and eat grass?”

      that looks like their plan

  • Frumplestiltskin

    What the Republicans are talking about now is not Conservatism but economic libertarianism. Old line Conservatism had at its core at least the notion of Noblesse oblige, where the ruling elites believe it is their duty to act in the best interests of all the people, with the “burden” of leadership being borne by them due to their superior attributes. Sure, it is arrogant but it was often genuine and well meaning. Papa Bush was an example of this.

  • Rob_654

    Sorry – but don’t ask me to “sacrifice” to help out the old people who kept the politicians in office that spent the money they put into the system on other things – while you cut taxes on the wealthy – many of whom are those same older people who will be either entering retirement soon or are already retired.

    If the Far Right wants to truly put their actions where their mouths always are – tell the old people to suck it up and that they have to take the hit that they need to – after all we are in the mess we are in because of the way they voted 20, 30, 40 years ago and they should bear the brunt of the resolution. This is true for both Liberals and Conservatives who voted for the “goodies”, wars, global rebuilding, give-aways to foreign countries, etc… but didn’t want to pay for them by raising the the revenues at the same time.

  • ottovbvs

    The government of the people, by the people, for the people? Doesn’t sound much like Ryan’s plan to me.

  • TerryF98

    Nowhere in Ryan’s “plan” does it talk about the 700 billion dollar elephant in the budget. Here it is, deal with this back to Clinton levels and you are half way there.

    HT DK

    • TerryF98

      The Pacman is eating us alive………….

      HT DK

    • armstp


      The explosion in defense spending is even greater than your chart shows, as spending on “security” in this country has gone through the roof since 9-11. If you add the costs of Homeland Security and the other agencies set-up after 9-11, we are actually spending over $1 trillion on defense/security. Americans are a rather paranoid bunch. We spend much more than +50% of the world’s military spending and we are only 5% of the population.

  • ottovbvs

    BTW they have now released the details of the 2011 budget deal. I need to look more closely but as I anticipated on first pass it looks like largely smoke and mirrors.


    I can’t see the Republicans in the house being too happy about this.

  • Unsympathetic

    I agree, trk. Let’s fine tune the anti-Boomer rhetoric, indeed.

    Your generation is ignorant, self-righteous, and wholly oblivious to anyone other than yourselves. Greatest generation? Nope. You people haven’t been at war as long as the current generation. Get over yourselves.

    You want to remove social security from every generation but your own? Pay for it yourself: raise the upper tax rate back to 70% and remove the SS tax from the paycheck of every person under the age of 55.

    • trk113

      I don’t think anyone has ever called the Boomers the greatest generation. That was our parents. Seems to me that self righteousness spans generations other than Boomers, as your post adequately demonstrates.

      Where in the world do you get that Boomers want to eliminate Social Security from all but ourselves? i think you are confusing Baby Boomers with the GOP and tea people. You whine about the under 55 crowd getting the shaft, but guess what, anyone 47-55 today is a baby boomer.

  • gmat

    Looks like the latest iteration of the phony “Lib” v. “Con” pseudo-debate (AKA “let’s distract you with this while we pick your pocket”) might be the “Young” v. “Old” pseudo-debate. There’s always someone who will tell you, “It’s not your fault, it’s their fault, and if you vote for me, I’ll fix it (and if I don’t, it will be because of them, but if you vote for me again, I’ll fix it next time, etc)”

  • PatrickQuint

    TJ Parker: “LOL! “Economic apocalypse”! Are you really gambling that everyone has forgotten who trashed the economy in 2008? Shameless.”

    In 2008? The… uh… Democrats who were running Congress since election night 2006? Bush was a lame duck after that.

    Of course, the economy was wrecked long before 2008. The economy was wrecked by the subprime lending, which led to a housing bubble that the banks had a lot of exposure to. That disaster was many years in the making. You might trace it back to a deregulation spree, but derivatives on securitized mortgages have *never* been regulated (and thus can’t have been deregulated). The deregulation that allowed the sub-prime lending spree could be blamed on the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act of 1999 under Clinton. The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 didn’t really deregulate derivatives, but it didn’t really start regulating them either.

    • ottovbvs

      In 2008? The… uh… Democrats who were running Congress since election night 2006? Bush was a lame duck after that.

      You’ll have to do better than that. As you recognize yourself the proximate cause of the financial crash was the collapse of the residential property market. When did this start? Third quarter of 2006. The Democrats weren’t running congress from election night 2006, they took office in January 2007 by which time the snowball was gathering speed. And it wasn’t just sub prime lending, a lot non sub prime and alt A was also iffy.

  • Primrose

    I have a friend who is of the Millennial generation. She was reading eading political stuff in the past and said she believes the Republican party was always the party of the greedy rich who wanted to step on everyone else (or words to that affect).

    I tried to explain that those descriptions used to be overwrought, that they have stepped up their game, and this is new development, even that the Republicans were less to the right than now—to absolutely no avail. She’s usually a quite reasonable person.

    I suspect that she is not alone in this impression. This kind of policy could lose the Republicans an entire generation or even two, the way Hoover did. Yes, the young don’t vote as much now, but the young turn into the middle aged, and then they vote. It is increasingly unlikely that they will look kindly on the party that treated them so badly.

    • ottovbvs

      My family have been Republicans for generations. We have a pic of my great grandfather with McKinley. My father who was a trad Republican but a total cynic said once that the Republican party has only two goals and they are protecting big business and the interests of the richest 10% of Americans. As long as you’re in the top 10% that’s all you need to know son.

  • Apollo42

    In the interests of full disclosure, I am one of the boomers that is close to retirement, and I wouldn’t dispute the criticism of the boomers that I know, or the “Greatest Generation”. However, my view of the problem is a little different.

    A society has only two things of value, natural resources and people. Wealth is created when natural resources are transformed into useful objects by people. When it is done right the resulting wealth supports lives lived in good conditions.

    Most societies have some form of contract governing how there items are treated and used. Our country doesn’t, and as a matter of principle DOESN’T have a contract. In a well functioning society there are obligations between all elements of society. The young care for the old. We all care for the disabled. The old educate and feed the young until they are able to do it for themselves. The best life possible for everyone is achieved with the maximization of its people. Resources are strictly limited, so people MUST be the focus.

    In the America that I see, this has all broken down. The portion of our population which actually works in resource extraction and fabrication of objects has fallen to historically low levels. Now, money (not wealth) is made by sacking people to improve the profit margin or by creating paper of little real value (think mortgage back securities). It has already been pointed out that compassion is in short supply. What we need isn’t more/less taxes or more/less spending. What we need is a FUNCTIONAL social contract and the cohesion that would result.

  • Slide

    Ryan’s Plan = “Let them eat cake”

    • Smargalicious

      Actually, for the millions of morbidly obese welfare parasites, you’re not far off. They eat cake, bacon, double Whoppers, and cornbread on the taxpayer’s dime.

      Just sayin’.

      • Traveler


        If them’s were the only problem at hand, the solution would be simple and brainless. The real issue is two wars and a tax cut, fool.

  • Carney

    So Frum has clearly signaled weakness on social issues, has wavered on Afghanistan, and now is throwing in the towel on the welfare state? What’s left? This “reform” of conservatism looks more and more like the across the board sellout critics accuse Frum of being.

    • ottovbvs

      “This “reform” of conservatism looks more and more like the across the board sellout critics accuse Frum of being.”

      Reality has a liberal bias?

  • Slide

    why does anybody respond to Smarg? You do know he is either a huge, not very subtle, troll or a 15 year old. I haven’t determined which as of yet. His only purpose in life is to get others to respond to him.

    • ottovbvs

      He works in a Republican boiler room and gets paid by the word to troll sites like this and crap on the sidewalk.

    • Primrose

      Thank you Slide. I keep trying to make that point as well.

  • Nanotek

    “So Frum has clearly signaled weakness on social issues”

    it’s called equality of treatment and Republicans need to stay out of other people’s bedrooms

  • WillyP

    you mean, for example, the lightbulbs in their bedrooms? their toilets? their washing machines? their cars? their food? their paper goods? their trash? their gas stations? their birth control? their abortions?

    pray tell: what exactly do you want government out of, besides your own business?