The more I think about Paul Ryan, the angrier I get. Not at Ryan, but at the legend that has sprung up around him. To hear his supporters and even a few of his critics, Ryan is the most serious and courageous leader in the Republican Party today. Unlike so many conservatives, he’s thoughtful and sane. He’s certainly no Sarah Palin. He knows how to read and he can talk in complete sentences.
Bully for him. Since when has the bar been set so low that mere competence is now celebrated in the ranks of politics? Imagine a surgeon proudly boasting he only killed three patients on the operating table today. This is now the state of the GOP and this is, sadly, how desperate so many pundits have become, that someone with the credentials of a Paul Ryan is taken seriously and even praised.
But, seriously, there is nothing serious or courageous about Paul Ryan or his plan for America. Simply put, Ryan’s plan is nothing more than Reaganomics on steroids.
There is nothing serious or courageous about a plan that claims to deal with the debt, yet doesn’t balance the budget until 2040, or a plan that promises to reduce all discretionary spending, now at 12% of GDP, to 3% by 2050, a claim the Congressional Budget Office calls “absurd.”
There is nothing serious or courageous about a plan that seeks to cut the top marginal tax rate even lower than it currently is and then asks the middle class to pay for it by cutting badly needed programs and eliminating tax deductions.
There is nothing serious or courageous about a plan that converts Medicare into a voucher program and Medicaid into a block grant program for the states. The costs to seniors and the poor in such a plan would be incalculable. To do that to the two most vulnerable groups in America is hardly courageous; it is, in fact, cowardly.
And yet this is exactly the plan this “courageous” and “serious” VP candidate wants to bestow upon the nation. A plan that will devastate the middle class, enrich the upper class even more than they currently are and consign the elderly and the working poor to the status of third-world citizens. Such a plan is not the start of an adult conversation about wasteful spending; it is the punch line to a very bad joke.
Which brings us to the most humorous thing about Ryan, assuming one could find anything humorous about him. Despite all the hoopla about his supposed natural conservative proclivities, he was anything but conservative in his earlier years. Indeed for someone who was touted as a deficit hawk, he “rubberstamped” virtually every one of George Bush’s policies, including both the Afghan and Iraqi wars and Medicare Part D. As Jason Linkins pointed out in The Huffington Post, “That's a lot like calling an arsonist a fire-fighter.”
Even when he got religion after his party got their butts kicked in 2006, his voting record was hardly hawkish. He voted for TARP and the auto bailout. He even requested stimulus funds for local Wisconsin businesses. Talk about balls.
And now this serious and courageous “deficit hawk” is less than three months away from possibly being a heartbeat from the presidency. Pardon me, but that’s some serious shit.
The idea of Paul Ryan being a serious, thoughtful and courageous leader in a city devoid of such qualities is the ultimate myth run riot. That any reasonably sane person would seriously espouse such a ludicrous notion is bad enough; that anyone could seriously fall for it is beyond belief. Paul Krugman summed it up best:
What Ryan is good at is exploiting the willful gullibility of the Beltway media, using a soft-focus style to play into their desire to have a conservative wonk they can say nice things about. And apparently the trick still works.