Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Truth About Paul Ryan (and Matt Taibbi)

Matt Taibbi nails the role Paul Ryan played in the budget battle:
Paul Ryan, the Republican Party’s latest entrant in the seemingly endless series of young, prickish, over-coiffed, anal-retentive deficit Robespierres they’ve sent to the political center stage in the last decade or so, has come out with his new budget plan. All of these smug little jerks look alike to me – from Ralph Reed to Eric Cantor to Jeb Hensarling to Rand Paul and now to Ryan, they all look like overgrown kids who got nipple-twisted in the halls in high school, worked as Applebee’s shift managers in college, and are now taking revenge on the world as grownups by defunding hospice care and student loans and Sesame Street. They all look like they sleep with their ties on, and keep their feet in dress socks when doing their bi-monthly duty with their wives.

Every few years or so, the Republicans trot out one of these little whippersnappers, who offer proposals to hack away at the federal budget. Each successive whippersnapper inevitably tries, rhetorically, to out-mean the previous one, and their proposals are inevitably couched as the boldest and most ambitious deficit-reduction plans ever seen. Each time, we are told that these plans mark the end of the budgetary reign of terror long ago imposed by the entitlement system begun by FDR and furthered by LBJ.

Never mind that each time the Republicans actually come into power, federal deficit spending explodes and these whippersnappers somehow never get around to touching Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. The key is that for the many years before that moment of truth, before these buffoons actually get a chance to put their money where their lipless little mouths are, they will stomp their feet and scream about how entitlements are bringing us to the edge of apocalypse.

The reason for this is always the same: the Republicans, quite smartly, recognize that there is great political hay to be made in the appearance of deficit reduction, and that white middle class voters will respond with overwhelming enthusiasm to any call for reductions in the “welfare state,” a term which said voters will instantly associate with black welfare moms and Mexicans sneaking over the border to visit American emergency rooms.

The problem, of course, is that to actually make significant cuts in what is left of the “welfare state,” one has to cut Medicare and Medicaid, programs overwhelmingly patronized by white people, and particularly white seniors. So when the time comes to actually pull the trigger on the proposed reductions, the whippersnappers are quietly removed from the stage and life goes on as usual, i.e. with massive deficit spending on defense, upper-class tax cuts, bailouts, corporate subsidies, and big handouts to Pharma and the insurance industries.
But then Taibbi goes on to play the role of the Regressive supporter of the tax take, where he favors government raising taxes so that the same Paul Ryan, that he hints is a dishonest idiot, gets to disperse the money taken from hard working Americans. And that's why in his conclusions, Taibbi begins to sound as though he's the child of a night gone wrong between Donna Shalala and Robert Reich.


  1. The best misinformation has as much of the truth as possible before turning away at the last possible moment to avoid any real damage to the whole framework of bullshit that has been built up around us over the last 100-150 years.

  2. And what was that bs abour Rand Paul? I suppose regular pundits haven't realized that Paul is a libertarian who took a Republican Tea Party train to the party, only he now gets six years where he can raise hell for both sides of the isle.

    Whenever I see someone complaining about proposed cuts to the Federal US budget, all I can see is that fat blob Michael Moore blurting "the US is not broke! the US is not broke! eat the rich!".

    I wonder, when Michael Moore goes broke (or does he have advisers from Goldman Sachs?) in the coming calamity, will he still be shouting "the US is not broke!", and claim that the other rich somehow stole his money too ?

  3. Rand Paul won't deserve to be taken seriously until he has called the military what it has always been: a clique of thugs and goons who need no budget whatsoever.

    But at least he's not a Paul Ryan.

  4. He's right. Here in Florida, our new Gov. Rick Scott is doing exactly what he promised. His poll numbers are cratering. You're going to cut what? Oh no, not that! That impacts me! Impeach Scott!!

    Washington is the same thing, writ large. Until the system implodes (and it will) there will be no change. I do admire the gumption of the Tea Party guys and gals. Sadly, they will be eaten alive. Too late anyway. God help us.

  5. The only way things have any possibility of being fixed, and its still a long shot even then, is more Rick Scott types that could care less about being re-elected and thus are willing to kill the sacred cows, at the expense of their political career.

  6. Taibbi is so infuriating! He gets 90% of it right, and 10% horrifically wrong. The man has no reality-based ideological framework with which to analyze the situation and diagnose the underlying disease. If someone can persuade him to study the Austrian anarchocapitalist position I'm certain he would have an intellectual epiphany of epic magnitude. He could truly become an elegant voice for freedom.

  7. I agree with Dale. All Taibi does is exhibit is terrible lack of understanding of both finance and the Ryan proposal to an embarrassing degree. This piece was laced with ideological hatred that just stood out boldly from the writing. When a writer can't separate himself from juvenile ad hominem attacks it really diminishes whatever point he was trying to get across. The name calling in the first 3-4 paragraphs give real insight into Taibi and his POV.

  8. I also agree with Dale on Taibi but my take is he is never close to 50% right but his crappy attitude and Krugman/Reich verbal style put him in the no cred bin....but, but the Lefty-tarians/faux nihilist just love him because ...who the he!! knows???