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Reason Foundation

Who's the Extremist?

Why are liberals demonizing Paul Ryan's budget plan?

David Harsanyi
April 13, 2011

All of you yahoos who support Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plans aren't just misguided anymore; you're nihilists. After all, if $38 billion in illusionary cuts to the federal budget—1 percent, or less than the amount the national debt grew while everyone was gabbing about cutting 1 percent—is, as the esteemed Sen. Chuck Schumer explained, "extremism," we're going to have to ratchet up the hyperbole.

Rep. Ed Markey, member of the large political party that never resorts to boorish demonizing, recently explained at a progressive shindig that fiscal conservatives have a desire to "destroy the whole wide world." (Yikes!) And when you believe morality springs from the wisdom of technocrats and Washington spurs prosperity and taxpayers have an ethical obligation to pay for the abortions and highbrow radio networks of their more enlightened neighbors, it probably seems as if the whole wide world is crashing around you. The rest of us can only dream.

Markey went on to claim that Republicans wanted to "shut down the Internet" when they had voted to strip censors at the Federal Communications Commission of the power to regulate the Internet. Conservatives wanted to padlock the Web by keeping it open? As devious plots go, this one is as counterintuitive as it is dastardly. No, the Web has never been regulated, and it seems—to the untrained eye, at least—to function more efficiently and freely than any industry overseen by a three-letter acronym. But that's probably the problem.

The irascible Markey, author of the cap-and-trade regulatory scheme, also groused about Republicans (he must have forgotten to mention the Democrats) who are attempting to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its power to regulate carbon dioxide—or, in other words, everything. Asserting that this is a tad too much authority for unelected bureaucrats to have is—and I'm loosely paraphrasing here—analogous to repeatedly shivving Mother Earth in the back, according to Markey. Democracy, you see, is vital in free society except when the issue is too vital for democracy.

[David Harsanyi talks with The Independence Institute's Jon Caldara about leaving the Denver Post and joining Glenn Beck's The Blaze and Mercury Ink. Article continues below video]

And so it goes. The Democratic mayor of Washington, Vincent Gray, called on citizens to "fight back against oppression." What oppression, you ask? Riders to the 2011 federal budget would end taxpayer funding for abortions and allow a handful of poor kids in D.C. to once again escape public schools. (Talk about fighting oppression.) Choice, as you know, is tyranny. Sometimes.

When Ryan released his long-term budget plan, aimed to bring spending and revenue into equilibrium in a quarter-century, the thoughtful rhetoric continued. The always rational New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who's already spent your great-grandkids' 401(k) accounts in his columns, called Ryan's plan "extreme," "unprofessional," "nonsensical" "crude nonsense," and accused the author of "haplessness" in one brief blog post.

Others claimed it was a "war on the poor" or, alternatively, a "war on the weak," because to the left, subsidizing the health care of the elderly and poor through the private delivery systems we use, rather than a plodding government system they want us to use, is the moral equivalent of rolling tanks into Grandma Edna's nursing home.

Forget cuts. We just need to tax more. It's patriotic, noted former Secretary of Labor, professor, political commentator but nonexpert on American history Robert Reich. And if you complain about taxes, interim Democratic National Chairwoman Donna Brazile will tell you it's driven by racism—which makes complete sense when you're plum out of rational arguments.

These are the allegedly reasonable, the self-styled moderates and the grown-ups. And that should make any "extremist" proud.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Blaze. Follow him on Twitter at davidharsanyi. This column first appeared at Reason.com.

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