Paul Ryan Divides New York Times Columnists Paul Krugman and David Brooks


In the New York Times this week, Paul Krugman and David Brooks went head to head with pieces about Paul Ryan.

Krugman’s perspective was nasty and focused on Ryan’s obsession with Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Brooks took a more intellectual path discussing Ryan’s decision to emphasize “campaign consciousness” as opposed to “governing consciousness.”

Atlas Shrugged is a fantasy in which the world’s productive people -- the ‘job creators,’ if you like – withdraw their services from an ungrateful society.” Krugman should have used his words more carefully. It is a fantasy that contains some remote parallels with some issues plaguing us today. Sure, Ryan sometimes uses it to make his points, but he is not planning on leading a revolt of the 1% (the real life “job creators,” in the book). On the contrary, he wants to solve our nation’s problems in a legitimate way, by changing laws that have dragged this country to the precipice of default.

Ryan is attempting to make the point with his referrals to Atlas Shrugged that those who pay the most to fuel this country are getting fed up with the persistent drum beat of populism and demonization of the capital system. Krugman’s attack on Ryan in this regard is an obvious political ploy. Maybe Krugman is working for the Obama campaign. What else should we expect from this man?

Brooks on the other hand has focused on an issue that Ryan should be aware of. It is that in this day and age, neither political party will be able to govern without the cooperation of the other party. Even with the presidency, the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, compromise is critical to moving the country forward.

Ryan must consider life after the campaign is over when the Romney Administration must govern. He must help the new president piece together compromises that are not ideal from his point of view, but that are beneficial to the country and the people.

Ryan voted against the Simpson Bowles proposal. This was a mistake that was driven by the congressman’s desire to have a perfect solution. In his opinion, a solution must deal with the growing threat of Medicare, which Simpson Bowles passed over. Intellectually, the Brooks’ article points out, the decision to vote nay is defendable given the impact of Medicare on our economy. But, it was an opportunity to make some progress on the plethora of other issues bringing down our country.

The point to be made is that the styles of these two op-ed reporters are representative of the current political landscape. The super-liberal is snarly and unproductive; the moderate is sensible and constructive. It should also be a lesson about whose opinion is more valuable to voters.