The Economist floated out a monstrosity today titled Paul Ryan: The man with the plan. Any article that suggests Paul Ryan has a plan is immediately discredited. Most such articles just claim he does, provides some vague praise, and then moves on. It takes a publication as sophisticated as The Economist to claim Ryan has a plan, and then — in the very same article — explain that he doesn’t. Observe this brilliance.

Here is what the economist says in favor of the proposition that Paul Ryan has a serious plan to eliminate the deficit, starting with the title:

Paul Ryan: The man with the plan

But no one can accuse Mr Romney any longer of being unclear about what he will do if he makes it to the White House.

He is a brave man: he was the first politician to produce a budget with a plausible plan for closing the deficit, which he did in April last year.

So you see, Ryan is a brave man with a plausible and serious plan that is not unclear. Then the Economist refutes itself:

In principle, this is laudable; but there is a worrying gap in Mr Ryan’s plan. His blueprint does not begin to spell out which exemptions will go, which will stay and which will be means-tested; and exemptions are notoriously hard to get rid of. Until he is more specific, the fear must remain that the Republicans will deliver the spoonful of sugar but not the medicine, as they did under George W. Bush. If that happened, the deficit would balloon, just as it did under Mr Bush.

I do not even need to bring in outside arguments here to refute the Economist: the Economist kindly does that work for me. As the passage immediately above notes, the parts of the Ryan budget that are actually spelled out increase the deficit. The parts of the Ryan budget that are supposed to decrease the deficit — base-broadening, eliminating exemptions, and means-testing exemptions — are not spelled out. Yet this is a clear, plausible, and brave plan to eliminate the deficit? Now I think I understand why the Economist never puts bylines on its articles.