It’s a great day for admirers of the word “cruel,” judging from yesterday’s column by Katrina vanden Heuvel and the comments therefrom. Vanden Heuvel’s premise is that VP nominee Paul Ryan’s proposed budget is unbearably cruel to those who are depending on, or might become dependent on, entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare.

As others have been saying, none of the plans for entitlement reform — not the president’s, nor Mitt Romney’s, nor Ryan’s — traffics in understandable specifics, so they’re all pretty pictures to make people feel good. So, PostScript wonders, since none of the plans have to be economically feasible anyway, why make them cruel as well? If you are going to make a fantasyland, why should it be one where everyone doesn’t get a pony? Ponies are great. Especially imaginary ones you don’t have to feed or muck out.

Some readers, though, dispute that Ryan’s plan is any crueler or unponied:

Carrferg says, actually, it’s no crueler than President Obama’s plan that won’t work. If we have to cut benefits, it’s better to just admit it:

This is just plain silly. How cruel are the lies of the left that the spending can continue without major changes? That is the cruel lie the Heuvel and her kind are spreading. Just look at Europe, socialism can not survive the demographic reality. There are not enough productive taxpayers to pay for the benefits and it’s going to get worse. The sooner major reform occurs the better and the less the pain.

Skep41 agrees. Social Security and Medicare are doomed anyway, so let’s stop paying for them now and at least save some money:

Yes, bankrupting the country with gigantic deficits is really going to be so kind to the poor. The poor are doing so well under The Party Of Compassion that people are flocking to join the ranks of the impoverished. Haven’t we had enough of the phony compassion? What self-serving elitist snobbery we get from these creeps. If Our Dear Leader gets reelected every single social program will be bankrupt within a couple of years along with the rest of the nation. There is no Democrat fit to hold elective office, their philosophy leads to bankruptcy, cultural destruction, demographic extinction and ruin.

Well, when you put it like that, it does sound better to have a plan that won’t work with no ponies. But what happens when you put it like McKDave?

There’s nothing courageous in Ryan’s plan and it’s not even fiscally conservative or sound. A fiscally conservative plan would include broadly distributed spending cuts, including military cuts, and modest tax increases to close the deficit gap. Those who believe cutting spending and taxes will trigger massive growth and increased net revenues are living in a fantasyland. Taxes as a portion of GDP have fallen more or less steadily for 20+ years and are at modern lows, yet the economy fell off a cliff, unemployment is high and the recovery is slow. The evidence says the GOP view is a lie and a myth.

Crisp11, though, argues Ryan’s plan is less cruel overall because it takes less money in taxes:

How exactly is it cruel to NOT extort tax dollars from hardworking, honest people just to distribute it to those who have ignored their responsibilities in life and who live in a state of chaos?

But wait! Costello22 says that raising taxes on business owners so we can increase entitlements is more compassionate, because a healthy safety net means paying out less in salary and benefits and, thus, presumably, hiring more:

And I hope the rich guy is grateful to the taxpayers who allow him to continue paying such low wages by insuring that his employees have food, shelter, and medical care — even if they can’t afford it on the salary they’re paid.

There you have it. Both sides are looking their gift ponies in the mouth and concluding they are imaginary. Though being imaginary makes it harder to tell that’s really its mouth you’re looking in.