The Fantasy Of Paul Ryan, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 2 2012 @ 1:51pm

Ryan Lizza's profile of Paul Ryan in the latest New Yorker is worth a gander. Money quote:

When I pointed out to Ryan that government spending programs were at the heart of his home town’s recovery, he didn’t disagree. But he insisted that he has been 143428025misunderstood. "Obama is trying to paint us as a caricature," he said. "As if we’re some bizarre individualists who are hardcore libertarians. It’s a false dichotomy and intellectually lazy." He added, "Of course we believe in government. We think government should do what it does really well, but that it has limits, and obviously within those limits are things like infrastructure, interstate highways, and airports."

But independent assessments make clear that Ryan’s budget plan, in order to achieve its goals, would drastically reduce the parts of the budget that fund exactly the kinds of projects and research now helping Janesville.

Jonathan Bernstein still thinks Lizza went too easy on his subject:

Lizza reports that Ryan and other Republicans successfully sold the Ryan plan as the "only solution" to avert fiscal armageddon. But Ryan’s budget doesn’t do that — it isn’t any kind of solution to budget deficits at all — unless it does what its own numbers inescapably say it will do and completely eliminates the entire federal government except for the military, Social Security, and health programs. If he really does, contrary to what his budget says, want to keep "infrastructure, interstate highways, and airports" along with veterans’ programs, the FBI, the border patrol, and all the other things that the federal government does now — well, then the deficits remain. And that’s not to mention that Ryan and Mitt Romney also support an entirely unrealistic tax "reform" plan that amounts to huge, specified tax rate cuts that would help the rich and vague, unspecified plans to end many tax credits and deductions, something that’s very unlikely to actually happen since those provisions are extremely popular.

Dish takedown of that tax plan here. Pete Spiliakos begs to differ, seeing the profile as a "masterpiece of subtle liberal partisanship" (Lizza's specialty, in fact) due to several factual elisions:

Nowhere in the article do you learn that the most recent version of the Ryan budget spends just as much on Medicare as does President Obama’s proposal, and retains Fee For Service Medicare for those who want to use their premium support to pay for that option.  If I thought that Lizza was being at all intellectually honest, I’d find it strange that Lizza would mention the most recent Ryan budget’s changes to Medicaid while not listing its changes to Medicare.  Lizza also doesn’t note that premium support payments are to be adjusted for health status.  None of this qualifies as lying of course.  It is just leaving out relevant facts so that New Yorker readers will have a maximally hostile view of the Ryan budget while walking away from the article feeling well informed.

In related news, Krugman and Yglesias recently called out Ryan for saying that we need to raise the federal funds rate by a point to increase liquidity. Here's Krugman:

I don’t even know where to start with this…. [Ryan] obviously doesn’t know [that] the Fed funds rate basically equals the return on federal paper, so that raising that rate would make banks more, not less, likely to stay with that federal paper. I’m sure someone will try to come up with a reason why Ryan is being smart here, but the truth is that he’s stone-cold ignorant.

A recent example of Ryan's priorities: he voted against defense cuts.

Previous looks at his fiscal fantasies here, here, here and here. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty.