Analogy of the day

The Washington Post editorial board ran a widely-noted piece yesterday, praising Paul Ryan for his “honest” plan to end Medicare, and criticizing those mean ol’ Democrats for using “false” and “inflammatory” rhetoric — “scare tactics” — when going after the proposal.

This is, of course, pretty standard Republican rhetoric. Ryan, we’re told, deserves credit for telling the truth, while that rascally Dems are trying to frighten people. Reality points in the opposite direction — Ryan’s fraudulent numbers don’t add up and Dems are telling the truth about the GOP plan. If people are scared by that, it’s not the Democrats’ fault the Republican agenda is perceived as menacing.

Jon Chait has a pretty thorough response to the editorial and all of its errors of fact and logic. Perhaps most notably, Chait explains, “The editorial argues that ‘simply preserving Medicare as we know it is not an option.’ Of course it’s an option. We could raise taxes to the levels that other advanced democracies employ. We could cut Medicare in some way that doesn’t both waste money on privatization and dwindle to grossly inadequate funding levels. Indeed, several bipartisan proposals, including the sainted Bowles-Simpson plan, do exactly that.”

But in the end, much of this continues to be centered around an odd debate — trying to define “end.” The Washington Post editorial board, like PolitiFact and GOP officials, continue to be offended by the left’s and Democrats’ use of the word.

Given this, Paul Krugman once again explained that critics of the Republican agenda accuse the GOP of trying to dismantle Medicare “because it is, you know, a plan to dismantle Medicare.”

When you transform a program that pays seniors’ medical bills into a program that gives them a voucher that almost certainly isn’t enough to buy adequate insurance, you can call the new scheme Medicare, but it isn’t the same program. […]

Here’s an analogy: think of Medicare as a footbridge that is deteriorating and will eventually become unsafe. You could propose structural repairs to fix its faults; Ryan doesn’t do that. Instead, he proposes knocking the bridge down and replacing it with trampolines, in the hope that pedestrians can bounce across the stream. And the Post declares that he deserves credit for pointing out that the bridge is falling down, and proposing a solution. Um, we knew that the bridge was in bad shape — and his solution is a fraud. […]

Republicans are proposing to destroy Medicare; saying that clearly isn’t scare tactics, it’s simply pointing out the truth.

That won’t stop the complaining, but it should.