Paul Ryan is living, breathing proof that in the land of the blind it is not the one eyed man who is king. Apparently that honor goes to the blind guy who yells the loudest and manages to attract the attention of both the other blind people and outsiders who feel compelled to construct a narrative in which the blind have a king who might improve their lot.
Ryan, the GOP It Boy du jour, received a well-earned cornholing from Paul Krugman for claiming with a straight face that the CBO endorsed the budget balancing effects of his ludicrous "Roadmap for America's Future." A shoddy cut-and-paste of stale Contract With America talking points, the Roadmap really is quite simple: replace Medicaid with "vouchers" that won't be large enough to cover the cost of private insurance, cut the taxes of the top 1% of income earners by 50%, and raise taxes on the bottom 95% of the country. Combined with lots and lots of nonspecific "cuts in spending" Ryan claims that this happy horseshit will produce a balanced budget by 2020. But he made the mistake of claiming that the CBO agrees with him. It doesn't. It agrees that his proposed cuts in entitlements and spending will produce a balanced budget IF his projection of 19% GDP growth is correct. But since the CBO does not make estimates on such issues, it ignores that crucial aspect of Ryan's plan.
Unfortunately the thoroughly debunked supply side economic nonsense – slashing taxes, preferably on the wealthy, will produce an uncontrolled ejaculation of economic growth – has been thoroughly discredited by all but hardcore denialists and wingnuts. In reality the kind of downshifting of the tax burden proposed by Ryan will not only offset his spending cuts with smaller revenues, it is likely to increase the deficit by 2020. So we spend less and take in far, far less.
Pretty standard GOP wankery so far. No surprises. The amazing part is that the media are forced to take this more attractive version of Phil Gramm seriously thanks to their twin attributes of cowardice and pandering.
Mainstream media profiles of Ryan are comic genius. The Washington Post practically chokes on his rod, calling him "perhaps the GOP's leading intellectual in Congress," one who "occasionally seems to forget that he is a politician himself." Not since Newt Gingrich has such an empty suit been praised as an intellectual heavyweight. Why? What could possibly stop reporters and editors from checking the math and saying "Hey, wait a minute. This doesn't add up. In fact this is complete nonsense"?
The Ryan phenomenon is an excellent example of the official policy of false equivalency in the American media. The braying asses on AM talk radio and the internet have so cowed the major media outlets with 50 years of whining about "liberal bias" that they compel themselves to pretend that both parties have new or great ideas even when they don't. In other words, they have to say that some Republican is intellectually serious lest they be accused of a lack of objectivity. They can't look at Ryan and say "Well, this is a bunch of crap from 1994, only with shadier math" because that leaves the GOP without a plausible counterpoint to the current administration. Who else can the media fluff up? Boehner? Palin? Lindsey Graham? McCain? Give me a break. No one outside of the people who listen to Fox News eight hours per day would buy that.
So here's this new guy that no one knows much about. He knows a thing or two about marketing his "idea" with a catchy and name and a pretty but staggeringly vague website. It will probably take a few months before he is debunked as a complete charlatan, so in the meantime the media can slobber all over him to show the rubes "Hey, we love the GOP too." By process of elimination, we've sifted a party that hasn't had a new idea since 1970 and found one guy who has enough used car salesman skills to make himself look like he might credibly have an idea or two. He and his ideas are to be taken seriously and are, of course, just as valid as opposing ideas. That should hold. For now.