Breaking bread won’t be enough

BREAKING BREAD WON’T BE ENOUGH…. Last week, the New York Times’ David Brooks was one of the highest-profile pundits to celebrate Paul Ryan’s budget plan. Given the proposal’s radical and fraudulent qualities, it was not Brooks’ finest moment.

But with President Obama offering a serious, credible debt-reduction alternative this week, I’ve actually found myself curious what Brooks would have to say this week.

This wasn’t what I wanted to see.

President Obama and Paul Ryan are two of the smartest, most admirable and most genial men in Washington. It is sad, although not strange, that in today’s Washington they have never had a serious private conversation. The president has never invited Ryan over even for lunch.

As a result, both men are misinformed about the other, and both have developed a cold contempt for the other’s position. Obama believes Ryan wants to take America back to what he sees as the savage capitalism of the 1920s (or even the 1760s). Ryan believes Obama wants to turn America into a declining European welfare state.

As Atrios noted, “It’s not too big a jump to conclude that the lack of an invitation from Obama for lunch was a detail fed to Brooksy by Ryan. The point being, when they aren’t obsessed with making life impossible for poor and old people, they’re obsessing about their social calendar. Really weird people.”

Agreed. I’d add that the rest of Brooks’ piece is premised on Ryan’s credibility. The columnist takes it on faith that the Republican Budget Committee chairman is deeply and genuinely concerned with unsustainable debt. Indeed, Brooks sounds the alarm that “global markets” may soon “lose confidence in America’s debt, with catastrophic consequences.”

What Brooks simply doesn’t want to consider is the fact that Paul Ryan’s numbers don’t add up; Ryan’s plan barely tries to reduce the deficit for the next couple of decades; and that the Wisconsin Republican’s budget proposal includes a massive tax cut to the very wealthy, moving further away from debt reduction, and paid for in part by slashing benefits to the elderly, the disabled, and low-income families.

That’s not a partisan spin or an ideological twist on facts. That’s Paul Ryan’s plan. It’s as fraudulent as it is extreme.

Whether Ryan and the president grab a sandwich together won’t change this basic truth.