The Paul Ryan test

The State Journal editorial page has long held a not-so-secret, everlasting-hearts-entwined, schoolgirl crush on Congressman Paul D. Ryan (R-Seriousville). And it’s only become more tingly as Ryan has gained power in Washington. Hm. Imagine that.

Recently they called him a Republican “star.” And back in August (in an extremely rare Saturday editorial) they rushed to gas up the GOP bandwagon in “Paul Ryan should run.”  For President (!) Of the United States (!)  Sadly, Ryan quickly demurred, dashing what must have been surging, nearly uncontrollable, almost hormonal excitement in the editorial board’s heavily mirrored, private offices. (Or, at least that’s how we imagine it; we really must take a tour some day.)

Of course, it’s not just the State Journal. Somehow, using the same secret Washington-insider process that earned John McCain the official ‘D.C. Hallucinatory Medal of Maverick-ness’, Ryan, somehow, has been touted as not just another well-funded Republican extremist, but as someone who’s, well, more intellectually “serious.

Then he unveiled his [latest] House budget proposal, and guess what, it’s not intellectually serious. The mockery was wide and instantaneous

The House Republicans unveiled their new budget today, complete with a spooky video pressing home the point that only the House Republicans and their leader Paul Ryan stand between us and CIVILIZATIONAL COLLAPSE. Yes, the peril of rising debt is that bad. No, it’s not so bad that it’s worth restoring Clinton-era tax rates to prevent. But so bad that it’s worth throwing tens of millions of people off health insurance…

The actually-serious Robert Greenstein, President of the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, called it Robin Hood in reverse — on steroids.” 

It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history)…

Ezra Klein asked, “Paul Ryan’s Budget: Should the poor pay for deficit reduction?

Paul Krugman called it flim-flam.

So I wonder: are they willing to concede, at long last, that he’s a clown?

His latest budget proposal has received some harsh critiques. It calls for huge tax cuts, supposedly offset by closing loopholes and ending tax expenditures — except that in a long report he fails to name a single tax expenditure that he would cut. It assumes drastic cuts in discretionary spending, basically eliminating everything except defense. And over the medium term, of course, it’s a plan to savage the poor while giving big tax breaks to the rich.

So actually two questions: are people finally willing to concede that Ryan is not now and has never been remotely serious? And — I know this is probably far too much to ask — are they going to do a bit of soul-searching over how they got snookered by this obvious charlatan?

Will the State Journal editorial page say anything about Ryan’s proposal?  And if they do, will they find it “serious”?  Will they find it “bold”?  It is, after all, a bold proposal to further reorganize America into classes that simply do not give a shit about one another.

This could very well be the point where the State Journal abandons any regard for Americans in general and throws in with the rich, more or less publicly, and forever.


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