Should one be surprised or unsurprised by the attack [“
Five myths about Paul Ryan’s budget
,” Outlook, Aug. 26] on Paul Ryan’s budget leveled by Peter Orszag, Barack Obama’s former budget czar?
Certainly, it is unsurprising that a leading Democratic thinker such as Mr. Orszag would put forward the particular criticisms of the budget that he did. But Mr. Orszag’s attempt to shellac Mr. Ryan raises eyebrows. It was Mr. Orszag, after all, who, together with his boss, helped saddle the country with four consecutive $1-trillion-plus deficits. With such a record, a little humility would serve Mr. Orszag well.
Mr. Orszag contended that “most serious tax analysts don’t think” that the reforms proposed by Mitt Romney and Mr. Ryan “are politically feasible.” He might be right about such experts — although Erskine Bowles, a co-chairman of the president’s own fiscal commission, called the Ryan budget “sensible,” “honest” and “serious.” Fortunately experts do not decide what is politically feasible in this country.
American history is replete with instances of strong leaders accomplishing great things that experts deemed impossible. Presumably, President Obama refrained from taking bold steps to address the deficit precisely because he was listening to such experts, including Mr. Orszag.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Washington
The writer, the president of the American Action Forum, was director of the Congressional Budget Office from 2003 to 2005.