Political Animal


May 17, 2011 10:35 AM ‘The drivers of our debt’

By Steve Benen

I’m aware of the rules that dictate all Very Serious People consider House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as knowledgeable and credible, but quotes like these should end the facade.

“We need to address the drivers of our debt. The whole reason we’re running into this debt limit so soon is because of the spending spree that has occurred over the last two years.”

I know the media loves this guy, but it’s statements like these that reinforce suspicions that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

This falls well outside the realm of subjective questions. Sure, I’m a lefty and Paul Ryan’s a far-right Republican, so it stands to reason we’re going to have very different opinions. But in a case like this, opinions are irrelevant.

We know exactly what the “the drivers of our debt” are, and the numbers are so unambiguous, one is left to wonder whether Paul Ryan is a liar or a fool.

The facts are hard to ignore and impossible to dispute. As the CBPP explained, “[T]he economic downturn, President Bush’s tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years.”

As for “the spending spree that has occurred over the last two years,” it doesn’t exist. Ryan’s assessment is nonsense.

Also note, Ryan’s argument is in the context of raising the debt ceiling. But even if Ryan’s plan became law this afternoon, we’d still have to raise the debt ceiling. Blaming this on an imaginary “spending spree” is absurd.

Remember, as far as the political world is concerned, Paul Ryan is the best Republicans have to offer. He’s not some random back-bencher; he’s the GOP’s go-to guy on fiscal issues.

And yet, Ryan’s agenda is basically an arithmetic-challenged fraud, and he apparently has no idea what the “the drivers of our debt” are.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • Gummo on May 17, 2011 10:38 AM:

    one is left to wonder whether Paul Ryan is a liar or a fool.

    Well, maybe one wonders, but I don't -- he's a lying tool of the plutocracy, i.e., a Republican.

  • SadOldVet on May 17, 2011 10:41 AM:

    ...one is left to wonder whether Paul Ryan is a liar or a fool.

    Easy question to answer, he is a lying fool!

  • c u n d gulag on May 17, 2011 10:44 AM:

    'Privatizing Ryan's' plan didn't make it past 'the old and the restless.'

    And now, the Oligarch's are trying a remake of "Ryan's Hope."

    Isn't it amazing that our entire MSM consists of people with long-term memory loss?
    It's as if the Little Boots years never happened.

  • stormskies on May 17, 2011 10:48 AM:

    And it's a fraud that the Corporate Media purposefully megaphones over and over and over because of the corporate agenda behind that megaphone. Meanwhile, the budget that the Democrats in Congress proposed would literally balance the budge in TEN YEARS by raising taxes and cutting where necessary. And, of course, the Corporate Media has willfully buried this proposal. It is never allowed to be talked or discussed. The corporate agenda and the media their own, the corporate cum sluts in place to megaphone this agenda, dictates that no taxes be raised on the wealthy, that the oil 'subsidies' remain in place, that taxes on the corporations become decreased, and, at the same time, that literally any social program that helps the common person be gutted and simply stopped. And then, even then, RAISING THE TAXES ON THE POOR AND THE MIDDLE CLASS. This is the beltway media's, the 'villagers' of the 'serious people', propaganda that is megaphoned over and over. It is willful, and by design. These corporate cum sluts such as David Gregory, et-al, are actually journalistic criminals who should be charged and convicted for purposeful fraud. Oh, but wait, that's right are U.S. "Supreme' said it's ok for the media to lie, to commit fraud under the guise of 'free speech'. The same 'free speech' that allows the Corporations to control the elections through all the money they use to do so.

  • davidp on May 17, 2011 10:49 AM:

    I don't think that Ryan's a fool. In his own terms, he's doing exactly what he has to do it order to advance his Ayn Randian agenda of destroying the New Deal and the Great Society. The fact that his claims about the economy are false does not prevent them from getting traction and driving the debate. And one can be sure that, after his stint in Congress, he will be well rewarded by lucrative positions in the corporatocracy.

  • Upper West on May 17, 2011 10:52 AM:

    And yet, so successful has the right wing propaganda machine been, if you ask the average person when the debt was created, he or she will probably answer that it was Obama.

    It is now "received wisdom" that Obama "tripled the deficit." (as you pointed out, based on fraudulent numbers comparing October 2008 with March 2009). But truth does not matter, "truthiness" does. And based on the efforts of the Kochs, Fox et al. and the passivity, if not active involvement of mainstream media, there is a general belief that Obama created the deficit.

    This is the way that "Starve the Beast" succeeds. Bush squanders a surplus and runs up a huge debt with tax cuts, unpaid for drug programs and wars. Obama takes over and it immediately tagged with having created the problem, which must be immediately solved by cutting "entitlements" -- that is anything that benefits the poor and middle class.

    Let's see of Politifact or the CJR or anyone on any Sunday show rates Ryan's comment "pants on fire."

  • Marc on May 17, 2011 10:57 AM:

    Ryan, Rand and their friends hate the poor, and wage war against them. They claim to be Christians (which I confess I am not), but forget Christian teachings, for example:
    My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 5Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 7Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

    James 2:3

  • mikefromArlington on May 17, 2011 11:01 AM:

    "Very Serious People"

    You should (tm) that.

    The IOWA voters are sure impressed with Ryan's seriousness though.


  • MuddyLee on May 17, 2011 11:01 AM:

    Paul Ryan's analysis, budget work, and statements will always be suspect (ie lies and distortions) because of his philosophical base: he is a disciple of Ayn Rand, he requires his staffers to read Atlas Shrugged, he cannot function adequately in a "public service" job because he has no clue what the public interest is. And yes, the Koch brothers will reward him handsomely when he decides to not to run for re-election.

  • Ron Byers on May 17, 2011 11:01 AM:

    If you repeat "spending spree" enough the stenographers in the Washington "press" corp won't look at the graph let alone understand it.

  • emeris on May 17, 2011 11:02 AM:

    The facts are disputed by asserting that this scoring of the tax cuts is unfair because eliminating them will crush growth which will reduce revenues even more.

  • slappy magoo on May 17, 2011 11:18 AM:

    This is the time when I wish someone in Congress, someone in the media, anyone with a microphone and some influence, calls him out for the f*cking liar he is. I see this with Facebook "friends," people who actually believe the debt wasn't a big thing until January of 2009. Their argument is thatm because of Obama, now we measure our annual deficit in trillions instead of billions. First of all, I'd think if you think deficits are a big deal, ANY deficit is too much. But second of all, a ginormous chunk of that debt is interest we're paying on the money we already added to the debt?

  • slappy magoo on May 17, 2011 11:42 AM:

    That ? at the end of my previous post should be a !.

  • June on May 17, 2011 11:42 AM:

    I really wish we could hear from a prominent Democrat (outside of the usual big-mouths like Weiner, etc.) something along the lines of "either Paul Ryan is phenomenally stupid, or phenomenally dishonest, or both."

  • bdop4 on May 17, 2011 12:48 PM:

    And which one of the MSM corporate whores is even going to challenge Ryan on the myriad bullshit statements he spews each and every day? ZERO.

    And how many liberal analysts like Steve will be invited to any MSM news show so that his bullshit can be challenged? ZERO.

    They're not even trying to pretend to be covering both sides of the issues anymore. It seems that we are going to have to crash these shows or loudly call out the hosts in order to get our positions heard.


  • John on May 17, 2011 1:22 PM:

    one is left to wonder whether Paul Ryan is a liar or a fool.

    No, one doesn't have to wonder at all! He's both, as well as a typical Republican apparatchik. He's never held a real job in the real world and has no clue whatsoever about how people outside the Beltway bubble actually live.

  • Zorro on May 17, 2011 2:25 PM:

    Ryan’s agenda is basically an arithmetic-challenged fraud,

    As is he. Not that that should hurt him in Idiot America.


  • Alexandra on May 17, 2011 9:18 PM:

    Let the truth be known!

  • Doug on May 17, 2011 9:54 PM:

    "Remember, as far as the political world is concerned, Paul Ryan is THE BEST Republicans have to offer." Steve Benen.

    And we wonder why so many citizens of this country don't pay attention to politics...

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  • Maggy on August 10, 2011 10:11 PM:

    Has the media always been this bad? Is it just because we have access to information on the internet that we are seeing them all for the liars that they are? What the hell can we do? I hear Obama call them out and it results in weeks long virulent Obama bashing in all outlets. Has Rupert Murdoch bought them ALL out? Seriously. this is treason as far as I'm concerned.

  • Anonymous on August 10, 2011 10:13 PM:

    The corporate media is engaging in treasonous behavior as far as I'm concerned. Truth is no longer even in the mix. It is ALL propaganda.

  • Barry Allen on October 29, 2011 8:53 PM:

    Yeah I'd like to vote for

    A: Liar

    B: Fool (in that he thinks he can continue this Republican charade that was once called "Trickle Down Economics" and has now been changed to "Job Creators"