Saturday, October 10, 2015

Paul Ryan: Prom Queen edition

As noted earlier, I had promised myself to ignore the 2016 presidential circus until we get closer to 2016, but the GOP speakership meltdown has forced me to pay attention to the shenanigans in that poorly run kindergarten called congress. And when Paul Ryan's name keeps coming up, I have to repress both a chuckle and a shudder. Paul Ryan? The miserably inept veep candidate from 2012? The Eddy Munster look-alike who can neither do arithmetic or tell the truth? Paul Krugman observes:

I don’t mean that I disagree with his policy ideas, although I do. I mean that his reputation as a serious thinker is based on deception, both about what he has actually proposed and how it has or hasn’t been vetted.
Take, for example, the famous “fiscally responsible” budget plan. As I explained way back when, what Ryan did was to present a sort of vague fiscal outline to the Congressional Budget Office that envisioned implausibly large cuts in spending and mysterious increases in revenue, and stipulated for the purpose of the exercise that CBO take those numbers as given. The budget office hinted broadly in its report that it didn’t believe any of it, e.g.:
That combination of other mandatory and discretionary spending was specified to decline from 12 percent of GDP in 2010 to about 6 percent in 2021 and then move in line with the GDP price deflator beginning in 2022, which would generate a further decline relative to GDP. No proposals were specified that would generate that path. [My italics]
But CBO did the numbers as required — and then the Ryan plan was presented as something that the budget office had “vetted”, when it did no such thing.
And as I’ve said, Ryan is to budget analysis as Carly Fiorina is to corporate leadership: he’s brilliant at self-promotion, but there’s no hint that he’s actually able to do the job. There is, in particular, no example I know of where he’s actually been right about anything involving budgets or economics, and some remarkable examples — like his inflation screeds — of being completely wrong, and learning nothing from the experience.
These last few days, Ryan has been acting like Ryan---a fundamentally dishonest, not very bright man playing the coy school girl pretending she doesn't want to accept the date to the prom. But she has her dress and shoes waiting in the closet.

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