The Dumbest Thing I Heard This Week

Kirsten Powers in The Daily Beast proclaims Paul Ryan the representative of Generation X, which she labels the “Screwed Generation.”

GOP Congressman Paul Ryan—the tireless, wonky, 42-year-old workout freak—has made history by becoming the first member of our generation to join a presidential ticket. It should come as a surprise to no one that his calling card is reforming entitlements.

Let’s hold it right there. Why is it unsurprising that a 42-year-old would want to reform “entitlements?” Young men and women of the Greatest Generation joined with their elders to forge these “entitlements” (I’d use the term “sacred social compacts” but whatever). The idea that relative youth should go hand-in-hand with throwing the elderly under a bus is a new phenomenon pushed by the the majority of the actually self-”entitled” Boomers, who spent the 70s and 80s gutting social programs and handing out tax breaks so they could indulge their greedy “Me Generation” at the expense of long-term stability and America’s promise to its seniors. The idea that reforming (read: eliminating) these programs is unsurprising embraces the lowest common denominator of the American people — the belief that the next generation can be no different than the last.

We were the first generation to be told we would never get Social Security or Medicare even though we would be forced to pay into these programs.

Did you believe the person who told you about Santa Clause, too? Because these claims are pure propaganda. Here’s a Nobel Prize winning economist schooling us on the continuing safety of Social Security. Medicare has bigger issues, but most of these can be traced back to the raiding of Medicare’s finances to hand out needless tax cuts and the underlying cost overruns of the health care system as a whole — something that Obamacare will address and that a public option would fix.

Most importantly, the only “dishonest attack” of Ryan’s plan that Powers can uncover is that Democrats are not clearly indicating that those 55 and over will not see their benefits change under the Ryan plan. This is your laugh out loud moment. Remember Powers is complaining that she pays into a program that gives her no benefits and then applauds a program that continues to provide full benefits to the Boomers at the expense of the rest of the country even though the only “threat” to Medicare is the large numbers of Boomers compared to younger citizens. Basically, the Ryan plan is the one that actually turns Medicare into a system that younger Americans pay for while getting nothing in return.

When many X-ers graduated from college, stocking shelves at the Gap was considered a career choice, as jobs were few and far between amidst a major economic downturn. I won’t bore you with the horror show of the low-paying and miserable jobs I had for the first three years after college.

Maybe Powers is right…maybe Generation X isn’t any better than the one before. I’m going to go ahead and wager that her “low-paying and miserable jobs” were not exactly mining coal or working two shifts in order to provide food for a child. I’m not saying Kirsten had great jobs, but whining about how miserable you find a temp filing job or whatever is insulting to large swaths of the country who do hard, thankless jobs just to make ends meet.

Enter Ryan. While Democrats attack his Medicare plan as “radical” and portray him as pushing granny off the cliff, young people don’t seem to be buying this caricature. Or maybe “radical” is what they want.

I find that hard to believe. Where’s your evidence?

A Zogby/JZ Analytics poll Tuesday showed increased support among voters 18-29 for the Romney ticket, which pollster John Zogby attributed to the Ryan pick.  President Obama received just 49 percent of the youth vote, versus Romney’s 41 percent.

Is she citing a John Zogby poll…as credible? How exactly did Nate Silver describe Zogby? Oh right: “The worst example is the company IBOPE Zogby, which has hadextremely inaccurate results in past elections. Rather than making any effort to recruit a random sample, the company instead relies on people who sign up for the survey voluntarily.”

At least the article cites a Pew poll indicating that a plurality of 18-29 year-olds supported the Ryan Medicare plan. The problem is that, like many writers, Powers banks on lazy readers who don’t follow up on her claims. [QUICK ASIDE: When a writer litters her article with links to back up her claims and then, suddenly, cites a report and doesn't link to it. Well, you've just caught them misrepresenting something they don't want you to notice.] The Pew poll that she cites also makes a point of how the 18-29 year-olds who supported the plan were most likely to not understand the proposal. It’s hard to say the young support a plan they don’t understand.

Yes, our expectations for government benefits when we retire have been lowered so much that the idea that we would get anything at all seems like a bonanza. Ryan’s plan also seems a lot less scary when you consider that his partner on it is the liberal Oregon Senator Ron Wyden.

Wyden calls these claims a lie, noting that he co-authored a paper about options rather than joining Ryan’s proposal. But why should we trust him on the subject?

But Ryan is young and is poised to be the intellectual leader of the conservative movement for the next generation. He will be a force to be reckoned with. Name-calling and distortions of his plan by Democrats is not an effective long-term strategy, nor is it good for the country.

It’s odd that Powers choses to conclude the article by decrying “distortions” of the Ryan plan when the article never makes a single claim that descriptions of the Ryan plan are inaccurate. Maybe Powers did learn something from the Pew poll — making sure people don’t understand the Ryan plan is the best way to get people to support it.

4 comments for “The Dumbest Thing I Heard This Week

  1. mls
    August 17, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    so why do you call the blog “Recess Appointment”?

    • August 17, 2012 at 10:38 pm

      It’s a political term and “recess” speaks to the light-hearted, funny sarcasm that I try — and probably fail — to litter throughout the site.

      • mls
        August 17, 2012 at 10:56 pm

        yeah, I am familiar with the term. Guess I was overthinking it.

        • Joe Patrice
          August 18, 2012 at 8:36 am

          Well, I may have been underthinking it. I wanted a name that was recognizably political, but in retrospect it doesn’t jump off the page saying “hey, this is a slightly liberal look at the rhetoric of politics. But you know how it is — I wanted to get started and I was searching for open domain names and I jumped on this one. Then the NEXT DAY Obama made the Cordray appointment and google made sure my site was buried under about 3,000,000 news stories. Oh well.

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