Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 19, 2011

DEFINE 'RESPECTED'.... In a piece on the health care fight, the New York Times tells readers today, "As floor debate on the repeal measure opened on Tuesday, Representative Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and chairman of the Budget Committee, who is a respected voice on fiscal issues, declared that the health care law would 'accelerate our country's path toward bankruptcy.'"

There's a couple of problems with the sentence, most notably the fact that the second half helps debunk the first half.

Obviously, a law that's projected to reduce the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars in the first decade, and a trillion dollars in the second decade, necessarily can't move the country closer to "bankruptcy." Anyone who thinks this way probably shouldn't be "a respected voice on fiscal issues."

Which is precisely why it's irksome when major news outlets make assertions like this. It creates a hard-to-shake public image, widely embraced by reporters, based on nothing but bogus perceptions.

Jamison Foser noted today:

Ryan voted for then-President Bush's tax cuts in 2001, then argued for extending them last year. Those tax cuts have had rather significant fiscal consequences. Is Ryan deserving of this praise because, though he fights for tax cuts that lead to massive deficits, he acknowledges (but doesn't do anything about) the fact that not all tax cuts pay for themselves? Ryan supported the Iraq war and voted for Bush's Medicare prescription program, too, both of which contributed significantly to deficits. Ryan produced a budget proposal that would take about 50 years to balance the budget -- except that it wouldn't do so even then, as Ryan told CBO to base its assessment of the budget on the assumption that tax revenues would remain the same, even though the budget included costly tax cuts. Ryan continues to support deficit-increasing policies. And when asked what spending he'd cut specifically, Ryan can't tell you the answer.

Paul Ryan's budget blueprint may be a right-wing fantasy -- slashing taxes on the rich while raising taxes for everyone else -- but there's nothing "respectable" about it. The plan calls for privatizing Social Security and gutting Medicare, and yet fails miserably in its intended goal -- cutting the deficit. As Paul Krugman recently explained, the Ryan plan "is a fraud that makes no useful contribution to the debate over America's fiscal future."

But Ryan nevertheless wins awards for fiscal responsibility, in large part because the political establishment is convinced the Ayn Rand disciple knows what he's talking about. He doesn't.

Steve Benen 12:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Comments

According to Ryan, CBO received garbage in, garbage out to come up with what he calls, smoke and mirrors by not double charging on various health care items.

Posted by: mikefromArlington on January 19, 2011 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Paul Ryan may very well be a "respected voice on fiscal issues." The question is, respected by whom? Most likely the usual gang of Beltway insiders.

Posted by: "Fair and Balanced" Dave on January 19, 2011 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Of course he's "a respected voice on fiscal issues."
Compared to the other idiot's, imbeciles, liers, freaks, retards, and grifters on the RepubliKLAN side, he's like the parrot that can say, "Polly want a tax break," and hense is a respected voice on linguistics and English by those who can't even do that. Oh yeah, and also, finance.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 19, 2011 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

I continue to be amazed that people take these proposals and think they're good for the country. Or good for themselves, or good for their parents, or good for their children.

Posted by: Mark-NC on January 19, 2011 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

"respected voice on fiscal issues."

He is "respected" by Beltway insiders, GOP/corporate interests. And by "respected," I mean he "pleases his pimps."

Posted by: ManOutOfTime on January 19, 2011 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

President Obama deserves some of the blame for the silly conventional wisdom surrounding Ryan. During the Q&A, when he took the republicans to the cleaner, Obama single out Ryan for being serious about fiscal issues. That, in part, seemed to solidify his standing among the sheep in the beltway press.

Ryan is a right fraud. I can remember him lecturing Obama about the doc fix, which the republicans didn't even attempt to remedy when in power, at that health care summit. Despite the absurdity and hypocrisy of the criticism, the video went viral among the right. Like Christie and Palin, Ryan seems to be revered despite actually doing nothing.

Posted by: Holmes on January 19, 2011 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

For me, this post is more of an indictment about the New York Times (and the rest of the traditional media) than about Ryan.

As another example, if I've read the following once in the NYTimes, I've read it a million times: Republicans and conserva-Dems, are frequently referred to as "fiscal conservatives."

Fiscal conservatives? It's a marketing ploy, it's a lie, and that the Times, of all papers, passes such nonsense on as fact irks me to no end.

Posted by: Chris on January 19, 2011 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Ryan's arguments are never backed up by data. When he produces his bizarro-world CBO report or specifies line items to support his "smoke and mirrors" comment, he'll be taken seriously. That never seems to happen.

I always love it when an idiot Congressman affirms that the CBO, which does this sort of thing all the time, would be fooled by (implying incompetence), or manufacture (implying unethical) "garbage in".

Posted by: Mudge on January 19, 2011 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

The sad thing is that no body ever talks about the merits of his proposals. Beyond satisfying Luntz's focus group just what do people think Ryan's proposals will accomplish?

Talking fiscal issues with Republicans is like talking astrophysics with a bible scholar.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 19, 2011 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Is the NYT a respected voice regarding news?

Maybe, maybe not!

Canards come, canards go! We've seen the results of supply-side economics for the past 30 years, and the press still seem unable to critically and honestly evaluate the repercussions of Ryan's continued economic fantasies! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on January 19, 2011 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers,
"Talking fiscal issues with Republicans is like talking astrophysics with a bible scholar."
PERFECT! That is the line of the New Year.
So, I'll totally be stealing it.
Thanks. :-)

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 19, 2011 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

With apologies to Mark Twain, Ryan is a moron and a congressman- but then, I repeat myself.

Oh, and the nation CANNOT become 'bankrupt'- nor can the states. Check your Constitution, Mr. Ryan!

Posted by: DAY on January 19, 2011 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

The only reason Robert Pear used the term "respected" in reference to Ryan is that the Times wouldn't let him use terms such as "exalted" and "revered".

I still have to get a bead on David Herszenhorn (the other author of the article) -- he seems to be fairly objective -- but Pear loves "all things Republican" and dislikes Obama. And it shows in everything he writes. It's, kind of, like Rasmussen poll; you have to add a mental correction, for everything you see there.

Posted by: exlibra on January 19, 2011 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

@ exlibra:-and the pundits wonder why newspapers are dead, and nobody watches TV.

Posted by: DAY on January 19, 2011 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Ryan is a Randian (Ayn) fanatic who supposedly has his 'own' budget proposals that we keep hearing WILL come out, but somehow never get that necessary airing.

The NYT is ALWAYS editorializing in its NEWS articles and I am sick of this practice. I know Wall Street is their bread and butter, but puhleeease! They have given 'respect' to the likes of Ann Coulter, for pete's sake.

Posted by: jjm on January 19, 2011 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Yesterday, my barber, a respected voice on military issues, outlined the mistakes made by all of the foreign powers who have invaded Afghanistan.

He then sugested he had a plan to destroy the Taliban, end the opium trade, and bring peace equality and prosperity to Afghanistan.

Of course he offerd no substantive details, but who cares

Posted by: Winkandanod on January 19, 2011 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

but Pear loves "all things Republican" and dislikes Obama. And it shows in everything he writes.

Don't forget Sheryl Gay Stolberg, either, who I immediately assumed had written that nonsense about Ryan. Her every article is a veritable opera of love and devotion to the GOP.

Posted by: electrolite on January 19, 2011 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Of course Congressman Ryan is a 'respected voice on fiscal issues'. He has the respect of all supply side economystics.

Of course Congressman Ryan will be reported by OUR corporately owned media as a 'respected voice on fiscal issues'. Why do you think that corporate America owns the media? It sure as hell is not to slit their own financial throats!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on January 19, 2011 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Uh-oh, somebody forgot to send the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities the "respected" part of the memo:

"The Ryan Budget's Radical Priorities
Provides Largest Tax Cuts in History for Wealthy, Raises Middle Class Taxes, Ends Guaranteed Medicare, Privatizes Social Security, Erodes Health Care."
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3114

If you haven't already, their report (and rebuttal to Ryan's whinging about their analysis) is well worth the read.

Posted by: June on January 19, 2011 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

There's one way to instant respect on fiscal issues - attacking social security. Ryan is not the first to figure that out.

Posted by: RuthAlice Anderson on January 19, 2011 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

While Paul Ryan is certainly a loathsome buffoon, perhaps it would behoove the Democrats to, I don't know, RUN SOMEONE AGAINST HIM! He ran unopposed in 2010 in a district Obama carried comfortably in 2008. I'm a little tired of hearing all this moaning about what is ultimately the DCCC's self-inflicted wound.

Posted by: Citizen Alan on January 19, 2011 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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