Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kagen still deserves an "F"

Milwaukee Magazine's Bruce Murphy criticizes the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for using an expert from the Heritage Foundation to grade the responses of each Wisconsin congressman to the question of what to do about the growing fiscal problem posed by entitlement spending.

The JS Sunday Crossroads section has done a fine job of balancing right-wing and left-wing commentary. So what in the world was the paper doing running a story where an analyst from the conservative Heritage Foundation grades the Wisconsin delegation as to their proposals for Social Security and Medicare reform? The writer assumes immediate reform of Social Security is needed, and therefore gives his worst grades (D+ to F) to four Democrats (gosh, what a surprise coming from a conservative). Of course, commentators like acclaimed economist Paul Krugman contend there is no actuarial basis for demanding immediate reform of Social Security. In short, there is a real left-right policy disagreement here, so why give us the analysis, much less grade politicians, from one side only?

What Murphy misses is that the editors had originally posed the question from the point of view that there is a fiscal crisis looming because of the growing entitlements, and each of the congressmen that replied accepting that premise.

Well, perhaps except for Congressman Steve Kagen who gave the most bizarre answer that did not deal with the entitlement question at all. For that the Heritage Foundation's expert gave him an "F". The grade, even Murphy would have to admit, is well-deserved regardless of who does the grading.