It’s a vision that says up to 50 million Americans have to lose their health insurance in order for us to reduce the deficit. Who are these 50 million Americans? Many are somebody’s grandparents, maybe one of yours, who wouldn’t be able afford nursing home care without Medicaid. Many are poor children. Some are middle-class families who have children with autism or Down’s syndrome. Some are kids with disabilities . . . so severe that they require 24-hour care. These are the Americans we’d be telling to fend for themselves.
Kristol proceeds to devote the entire remainder of the editorial to expressing moral indignation at the charge. ("It’s about nightmares, not dreams. It’s about fearful clinging rather than hopeful changing. It’s about pandering and slandering rather than explaining and arguing." Etc., etc.) He does not pause from his outrage even for a moment to actually rebut it. Which part of the claim is false? Does Kristol dispute the fact that the Ryan budget eliminates coverage provisions in the Affordable Care Act without replacing them, or that in addition to those massive cuts he slashes funding for Medicaid? Does he believe these things but deny that some of the afflicted will be middle-class families with children with Autism? Or does he concede that all these things are true, but it's unfair to say it? I would be genuinely interested to hear Kristol's view on this, assuming he has a view, which is always questionable.
Remarkably, for those readers who don't find Kristol's expressions of fulsome, unsubstanitated moral outrage sufficiently redundant, it is accompanied by a second editorial. This one, authored by Pete Wehner, makes the exact same point. It begins with an accusation -- "Barack Obama’s budget address last week ranks among the most dishonest and dishonorable presidential speeches in generations. It contained an avalanche of false and misleading statements." -- and then failed not only to refute the "false and misleading statements," but even to identify them.
The reader is left wondering which of Obama's statements Wehner deems untrue. "It is wonderful to be back at GW"? Perhaps Obama actually finds the GW campus merely routine, or even outright unpleasant but conveniently located. "I'm grateful for all of you taking the time to attend"? Surely that exaggerates Obama's state of mind. At the very least, I'd like to hear an example or two of the false claims Wehner has in mind.
And then, if you can't get enough moral umbrage at Obama's attack on Ryan, two pages later we find a piece by Fred Barnes expressing the same idea:
the president devoted a significant chunk of his address to denouncing Ryan’s budget as unserious and close to being un-American. It “would lead to a fundamentally different America . . . than what we’ve known throughout our history,” Obama said. Not only that, but Ryan would let crumbling roads and collapsed bridges go unfixed and autistic and disabled kids would have “to fend for themselves.”
Politics shouldn’t consist of happy talk. But this was vicious and untrue.
At this point, again, Barnes does not bother to explain what about this charge is untrue. Does he not believe that the Ryan plan would create a "fundamentally different America"? That seems like a pretty restrained description of a budget that would eventually reduce non-entitlement federal spending from 12% of GDP to 3.5% of GDP. Does Barnes dispute the claim that enormous cuts to infrastructure spending would lead to crumbling roads? Again, readers are left to wonder.
Aside from the characteristically abysmal intellectual level of argumentation on display in the Standard, I'm left wondering to what degree conservatives actually agree with Ryan's plan, as opposed to rallying around a fellow partisan who projects an image they like. For instance, Republicans, including the Standard, have been insisting that the GOP does too have a plan to cover the uninsured. Then Ryan comes along with his plan, and he repeals the coverage for the uninsured and leaves nothing to replace it. So, are they lying for him? Do they think it's good to repeal programs to give coverage to people with Autism and other disabilities, or do they oppose it but fail to grasp what Ryan's plan does? I honestly do not know.