Thursday morning, before a friendly crowd on Capitol Hill, I listened as Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, his voice dripping with moral indignation, declared that by bringing up the issue of fairness in his budget speech this week, President Obama had stooped to “political demagoguery.”
Political demagoguery? In Washington? We’re shocked, shocked. Certainly we haven’t heard any demagoguery from Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) or Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) or Ryan himself? Of course not. The budget crisis is much too serious for that.
News flash for Ryan: In deciding what to spend and whom to tax, lawmakers’ fights over budgets are always fights about values and priorities in which fairness has as rightful a place as fiscal rectitude and economic efficiency.
If it’s legitimate to decry the immorality of leaving our grandchildren a legacy of crushing debt, which Ryan and the Republicans do ad nauseam, then it is no less legitimate to talk about the immorality of reducing deficits by cutting nutritional support for pregnant women and infants rather than raising taxes on millionaires.
As Balloon Juice commenter J notes:
One of the signs of the wrong turn we’ve taken as a society, is the near total disappearance of the word ‘fairness’ from our public discourse and, it seems, of the corresponding idea from our thinking. It should be front and center. I’d like to hear Democrats use it far more often than they do and far more often than the mealy-mouthed terms they tend to favor.
Truer words never spoken.