Political Animal


January 26, 2013 3:54 PM Four years later, Paul Ryan wants more of the same

By Samuel Knight

Just when I thought that the National Review Institute demonstrated that Republicans are ready to compromise, Paul Ryan outlined a somewhat apocalyptic vision of budget negotiations there on Saturday.

According to POLITICO, Ryan said “that the nation will face ‘tepid growth and deficits’ under President Barack Obama and Republicans must prudently ‘buy time’ and ‘keep the bond markets at bay — for the sake of our people.’” Like a third-rate objectivist action hero, he is.

Ryan continued:

“Unfortunately, the Democrats are unlikely to accept our proposals. They refuse to consider real reform. But we will lay the groundwork for future endeavors. So when reform is possible, we will be ready.
“The president will bait us. He’ll portray us as cruel and unyielding,” Ryan said. “Look, it’s the same trick he plays every time: Fight a straw man. Avoid honest debate. Win the argument by default.

But neither the President nor any other Democrats need to portray Ryan as “cruel and unyielding” because his policies do a fantastic job of that on their own.

Ryan has time and time again demonstrated that he isn’t interested in paying down the national debt or in “reforms to protect and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid,” as he claimed on Saturday. He’s interested in turning Medicare into a voucher program and in slashing Medicaid’s budget by over a trillion dollars — his logic reminiscent of that infamous Vietnam era talking point “destroying the village in order to save it.” And speaking of bombs, Ryan has repeatedly refused to consider cutting one of the most draining and unnecessarily large parts of the budget: defense spending. He also refuses to consider forcing those with mountains of idle or otherwise unproductive cash to pay for these programs, and isn’t content with Democratic compromises thus far, refusing to appreciate the $2.2 trillion in cuts agreed to during the 112th Congress, because he’s cranky about the $620 billion in tax increases.

Moreover, he isn’t even right about the one thing that libertarian types are supposed to be intimately familiar with — the bond market. As I pointed out a few weeks ago, interest rates are about as low as they can be and aren’t expect to rise, and demand for U.S. Treasury bonds is robust. This suggests that the market has confidence in the U.S. government’s ability to honor its debts, and that federal borrowing isn’t “crowding out” private sector investment.

Who’s avoiding honest debate, Congressman Ryan?

POLITICO also reported that Ryan’s outlook contrasts sharply with Speaker Boehner’s. The latter is attempting to compromise with Democrats by forcing the Senate to pass a budget so that the two houses can find some middle ground. But if Ryan uses his budget committee chair to turn this into another fiscal knock-down drag-out fight — something that makes virtually no sense in light of his party’s November drubbing, and Congress’ low approval rating — the ensuing conference committee might make the super committee look like serious adults.

So much for learning from the past four years.

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.


  • c u n d gulag on January 26, 2013 5:55 PM:

    Paulie, "Privatizing" Ryan, Dude - take a look at England, take a look at Spain, and take a look at Greece, and see where your "Austrian Austerity" will lead us!
    NOT ecomonic growth!
    Economic stagnation - at best.

    I know you want us to become some 3rd World Sh*t-hole Banana Republic run by Republicans, to make your rich friends richer, and yourself, but, you'd better start selling that feckin' "Austerity" fish a lot faster and better - it's starting to stink more than your SS and Medicare "entitlement'-dependent Ol' Mama's farts and feet!!!

    He's nothing but a soul-less, blue-eyed grifter.

  • bleh on January 26, 2013 5:56 PM:

    Nice twist on the Bond Vigilantes. "Thank heaven the Republicans saved us from the bond markets!" Also that they saved us from the charge of the pink rhinoceroses. "You've never seen a pink rhinoceros? Well, thank the Republicans!"

    Ryan is a grifter, just like all the rest of them. And his audience is -- as it always has been -- mostly the rich sugar daddies of the party, and only the rubes to the extent that the sugar daddies like it when someone distracts the rubes.

    He likes his government-funded job and his government-funded staff and his government-based influence that gets him $300 bottles of wine. And he will drive that horse 'til it's walking on its knees.

    That the Republicans have become so much the party of grifters and hucksters is actually a good sign. It's end-stage.

  • j on January 26, 2013 6:11 PM:

    Does anyone know the full story of Amgen, and did McConnell and two others slip this huge give away in the fiscal cliff deal, I hear it is a half a billion to drug makers!

  • June on January 26, 2013 6:32 PM:

    Paul Ryan -- the American voting public resoundingly rejected your 'math without numbers' and I daresay we're willing to do it again and again as long as you refuse to understand that you are indeed a strangely and blisteringly cruel human being.

  • latts on January 26, 2013 6:34 PM:

    Above may be the most perfect example of projection I've ever seen. I recommend medication and long-term counseling.

  • j on January 26, 2013 6:41 PM:

    A very interesting article on Al Jazeera website about how the corporations have plans to loot the social programs - good reading!

  • Rick B on January 26, 2013 7:24 PM:

    I'll agree that what Paul Ryan has set as his goals will not build America's strength. That's not a bug to him. It's a feature.

    As America gains strength so does the federal government because as mass markets grow, jobs specialize and someone has to coordinate the flow of inputs (goods and services both) to the companies and aid them with further transportation to distribute the output. This takes social power away from the corporate executives and from the small town leading class (lawyers, doctors, dentists and small business owners.)

    It's this loss of local power controlled by the dominant class that the conservatives are fighting to save. Eliminating the inheritance tax, for example, creates powerful local families that outsiders have to defer to. the Civil Rights movement nationally succeeded in large part to the extent that these local power centers were brought under control. Plaquemines_Parish,_Louisiana is an example of the local landowners dominating small counties through the election of the sheriff.

    Paul Ryan is fourth generation in this dominant class in Janesville, Wisconsin.

    When you allow the discussion to shift to pure economics the entire power dimension is concealed because modern economics is designed to mimic a "science" in which everything is determined by mathematical formulas. There are no reliable measures for power, so economics as a discipline operates on the fiction of accounting transactions which "establish" prices. The power relations behind those transactions are not computed because there are no numbers to compute from.

    Economics is a more sophisticated smoke screen to conceal power relations than Paul Ryan uses. Randian Libertarianism simply ignores unfortunate facts that disprove their idiocies, but the intent is exactly the same. Keep the current power group in power and make all the manipulations that maintain their power invisible to most people.

  • Oh my on January 26, 2013 7:25 PM:

    what bleh said

  • Rick B on January 26, 2013 7:30 PM:

    You are right that Ryan is a grifter. So are ex-Senator phil Gramm, Allan Greenspan, and Dick Armey. Each uses the lies of Libertarianism to conceal their power hunger and power manipulations.

  • Kathryn on January 26, 2013 7:45 PM:

    "He's nothing but a blue eyed grifter" CUND Gulag. Can't improve on that. I'm a great believer that people cannot hide who they are, if you observe them closely. Whenever I see interviews or statements from Paul Ryan, I see no humanity, no honesty and frankly not too much in the smarts department. I see smugness in spades and ambition.

    For unadulterated goodness, Sr. Simone Campbell comes to mind. In the political world, Pres. Obama almost always seems genuine and kind, to me anyway and smart too.

  • arkie on January 26, 2013 7:48 PM:

    As Jon Stewart explained this week when he was talking about Ryan use of the word "strawman", it's not a strawman if it is true.

  • boatboy_srq on January 26, 2013 8:16 PM:

    Apparently, in the Tenthers' minds, whatever Constitution they think BHO is adhering to has no 22nd Amendment, so they'll spend the next four years doing everything to make sure he's a two-term President...

  • HMDK on January 26, 2013 9:24 PM:

    "Each uses the lies of Libertarianism to conceal their power hunger and power manipulations."

    Actually, Libertarians are prety open about their sociopathic tendencies. But I know what you mean.

  • Ron Byers on January 27, 2013 12:45 AM:

    If you pay close attention to Privatizing Ryan you realize he isn't the smartest man in a room, even if he is alone. (Nod to the Castle mystery book my wife is reading.)

    Seriously, Paul Ryan, tea party and media darling, became irrelevant the moment Boehner threw the Hastert rule under the bus. What he says or thinks is of little importance at least in the short run.

  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on January 27, 2013 2:18 AM:

    I'm going to go tell my neighbor he needs to give me his car. When he, possibly irritated, tells me that he has no intention of giving me his car, and that it would be a very very bad idea for me to take his car, I'm going to whine about him debating a straw man. Then I'll announce that I plan to take his car anyway when he's not looking.

    Where do they get such a piece of work?

  • Elie on January 27, 2013 10:50 AM:

    Paul Ryan and the other Republican hallucinators have no choice! They are trapped at the extremes and part of their rage is that Obama continues to hog the center of every policy position, making it impossible for them to do anything else but repeat their insanity, only each time louder and with more insistence. They can't move to the center now anymore than during the campaign because, that's right, they would have to agree with Obama and in so doing, would make any case for their policies evaporate. Its fascinating actually. They are boxed in with no path out but what they have already done on the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling -- capitulate but call it something else. Meanwhile, their desperation is revealed in all the initiatives to fudge the rules -- including how to count the votes. They are being smothered and what you are seeing -- the screeching new insane anti-women policies, the idiotic and insane tax talk and other stuff is just the thrashing around of a dying policy agenda and party. It aint pretty and is probably gonna get uglier. May I also add that they are and will continue to be dangerous and the administration and democratic party are charged with keeping our country safe above all.