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.
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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.
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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.


  • Wauwatosa Whacko says:

    Don't forget that Mr. Fiscally Sane, Small Government, Free Market voted for the debt-financed Medicare Part D, and favored bailouts for Chrysler and GM plants in his district.

  • Another great post, Ed. I used to think that with a little bowdlerization your blogs could be inserted somewhere like the WaPo OpEd page or something. But who would want to do that to them? Better to get every thinking person to come here. I recommend G&T to every worthy citizen I know.

  • Here's my Road map for America's Future: NATIONALIZE RICH PEOPLE. Just take every last cent of the wealthiest 1% and spend it on social programs or pay down the debt…..just frickin' spend it all, it will jump start the economy into the stratosphere.

    Plus it would have added bonus making this 1% work their asses off. Since this group likes to say that they are the 'producers' in society, just imagine how much they would produce with just a section 8 voucher and some food stamps.

  • As a point of reference- the US economy had 2% GDP growth (chained, real) in 2007 and has been stagnant or shrinking since. The last time the US saw double digit growth was the 1940s. Even China, has slowed to about 4-6% GDP growth since the global economic crisis. (Prior to it, China was growing around 12%). Inject some infrastructure into a third-world country, like Botswana, and you will see a solid double digit 19% growth in GDP, although you'd be fighting inflation, instability and the strong corporate desire to capitalize on worker exploitation to maintain profitability versus other companies that have the same idea.

  • The Man, The Myth says:

    The GOP should be headed the way of the Dinosaur and Whig Party. The ideas they propose have all failed dreadfully in the past. George W. Bush is in the bottom five percent of Presidents in the countries history. The "War on Terror" they created would not last if our tax payers were asked to pay for it. Bush's multiple programs were designed hoping the government could not implement them – so he could privatize the government. Even his bobble head token white suburban people wouldn't let him privatize Social Security. The list could go on.

    The pity is media folks give them any time at all. Would Murrow be honest and state the fact that these people are full of dung? They have so many platforms to saturate with nonsense… weasels like Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, and other "talk radio" idiots plus 24 hours of Fox News every day. So its clear the GOP won't go the way of the Whig and simply die out, if they actually pick up seats in the coming november election I'll poo my pants, but it will probably happen.

    This brings up the best question: why do liberals suck so much? We have better ideas, we have plenty of articulate people (most of whom are not as hypercritical as the GOP stars), why aren't we winning easily? The financial motive of the rich in the media to mis-represent Republicans to have lower taxes?

  • Slight correction:

    Ryan's plan doesn't assume GDP growth of 19% – it assumes that tax revenues are going to stay at 19% of GDP despite his changes to the tax code through the Magic of Supply Side Voodoo(tm).

    Small point, but I love your blog and I'd hate to see the trolls descent upon you.

    – Nick

  • Monkey Business says:

    @The Man, The Myth: Liberals suck because we approach the issues that plague our country with reason, intelligence, and a desire to find some common ground with our opponents. Conservatives have no such requirements. Simply put, we're not willing to shove our clearly and obviously superior ideas down their throats like we should.

    Modern conservatism is clearly divided in half: you have the leadership and the top 1% of earners designing and pitching policies that pretty explicitly benefit them at the expense of everyone else, and then you have everyone else that is either terrified of the large-scale social changes that the country has undergone in the last forty years or those that believe that they too can join that top 1% if they wish hard enough and are willing to cut the guys at the top a break because someday they'll be there too.

    That being said, the GOP demographic is overwhelmingly old and white, two segments of the population that are shrinking rapidly. Moreover, the under 30 demographic is so overwhelmingly liberal compared to previous generations that there's a decent chance that we're on the verge of a political revolution that could profoundly alter the political framework of the country from being what's perceived as center-right to being overwhelmingly left.

  • @Monkey Business: I'd also add Liberals are too honest…while the intellectual dishonesty displayed by Conservatives is stunning. They know this cold hard fact about people: that they will believe a lie they understand more willingly than they will believe the truth they don't understand.

  • The Man, The Myth says:

    Thanks Monkey Business and Bugboy. Both of those explanations sound plausible to me. Its still disappointing that sometimes in life, even when you are correct, you lose.

  • "perhaps the GOP's leading intellectual in Congress,"

    It is not saying much , but probably correct – if you add [R] to it.

    That dimwitted jackass is probably the leading intellectual" – on the right, just like Newt.

  • Based on what Monkey Biz and BBoy have said, let me contribute something I wrote a while back but didn't post.

    Can I convince you that the Left is winning the Big Picture?

    Look at the culture in the last 50 years in the US. I have been here all that time and paying attention to some degree.

    First, most people in our society are not interested in boring stuff. Government, politics, social issues, etc. equals boring stuff. That favors the minority of active dedicated people such as are on the Left. (or it could favor the Militia, Freepers and Tim McVeigh types – if they existed in any significant numbers)

    Wouldn’t y’all agree that for people under 40, most attitudes in the culture favor your side? Gay marriage, belief in socialized medicine as a right, children w/o marriage, drug use, abortion as a right, decline in religious belief, illegal alien status and treatment, do I need to go on?

    I am not bitching or lamenting – just observing.

    The court system seems to be a way that the Left is successful in moving agenda items forward. On the SCOTUS front, especially if BHO is re-elected, do you realize that we are but one heart attack, stroke, or serious cancer case away in 5 older males from flipping the 5-4 majority your way?

    Who makes up the Tea Party constituency? Over 40 by and large…Y’all always bring up “overwhelmingly White,” but that would be true for a few more decades whatever the mass clustering is all about if it is of a general nature. The anti-war movement is “overwhelmingly White.”

    One of the contributors here calls the TP a “flash in the pan.” We’ll know more by this Nov and surely by Nov 2012. I think this is certainly open and all the Rs who are extrapolating the few victories into TEOLAWKI for the Ds are crack smokers.

    I seem to remember that the average churn in the House in the off year, for a first term Pres’ Party is -25 seats and I think it’s 4 or 5 in the Senate. If that history holds, it makes life a little tougher for Fancy Nancy and probably Chuck U Schumer, but it ain’t big Mo.

    The Leftist Big Picture is going to have some resistance. It will come largely from the South among old White guys like me. We’ll have to see how deep and wide that will be. If you are old and sick, you don’t make as good a resister, now do ya huh?

    Anyway, the biggest tactical complaint I would register is the urgency of the “Transformation.” Y’all already have the future pretty well secured by having won or seriously winning the Kultur Kampf among the under 40s.

    Patience and hold steady – advance as the opportunity arises, here a little, there a little. That really is the Progressive way.

    If your side can resist the urge to be revolutionary and stir up a damn race war or something equally unpleasant, I think you can get ‘r done that good old Progressive way in another 20 years.

    If you can get the illegals amnestied and registered as Ds – you’re about ¾ the way home to permanent D-ism.

    How about those Electoral College Evasion Laws? I think that if they stand, that will also help propel the permanent domination by Ds. Pres candidates will be bi-coastal and screw you Dorothy and your little dog too!

    The short term overreach gamble that might fail is Obama care. If you can keep that from being barfed up, I think that will be the gateway to getting us to a new Western European country – maybe we could call it Greater Frangertaly.


  • Paul W. Luscher says:

    What I find funny is that the evidence of the failure of Republican ideas is ALL AROUND US–yet most people are still buying into the same "defective product" that got us into this mess in the first place.

    Is "dumbing down" the effect from too many years of TV watching?

  • Trying to talk Congress into listening to W about the nightmare occurring at Fannie & Freddie … unfortunately for the country they did not listen.

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