Money cakeAn increasing number of national pundits -- having watched Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis) self-immolate in his vice presidential run -- are onto the guy and his increasingly frequent appropriation of progressive themes. Ryan has joined in the "kinder, gentler" post-election GOP rhetoric, euphemizing his actual, hard-core budget policies. Those mostly still involve good old fashioned Republican tax giveaways to the rich at the expense of everyone else.
Never mind, though, if you're the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which seems to have ramped up its jones for Ryan.
[For those unfamiliar with street slang, "jones" is a verb that derives from New York City heroin users; it refers to a deep, burning desire such as the kind you might get from a drug rush, or perhaps hero worship.]
Check it out: The Journal Sentinel has produced no fewer than four major news articles plus one editorial covering Ryan's views in the span of the past work week, most recently on Jan. 29. The articles were accompanied by large color photos of Ryan looking earnest and big headlines containing hardly anything new from the Janesville congressman (sample: "Paul Ryan tells conservatives 'we can't get rattled' by Obama").
Another half dozen blog posts by the newspaper's reporters during the same week kept up the Journal Sentinel's myopic Ryan infatuation. The paper's sports section didn't cover Aaron Rodgers this much even when he took the Packers to the Super Bowl. And, arguably, it has covered Rodgers less fawningly than it covers Ryan, which is really saying something.
Except for the editorial, which slyly noted that the newspaper sometimes disagrees with Ryan, the other Journal Sentinel articles -- prominently displaying on page one or the front of the local news section -- basically let the House Budget Committee chairman have his say, without any bothersome contention from the likes of his opponents. The newspaper suggested that Ryan is engaged in "an extreme makeover" of his philosophy. We, however, argue that Ryan's philosphy hasn't changed one whit -- only his PR strategy.
In its editorial, the paper goes so far as to call Ryan "one of the most thoughtful leaders in either party." Well, anyway, thoughtful in the sense that Ryan has put a lot of thought into mixing metaphors, muddling through, and deliberately fuzzing up his fiscal math and his rhetoric, all the while pretending he's for one thing and not another
Among the most revealing reporting on Ryan was a Jan. 23 piece almost breathtaking in its scope. We refer to Ezra Klein's Washington Post blog entitled "What happened when I asked Paul Ryan why he hates taxes." Klein pursued Ryan insisting he reconcile contradictory rhetoric to the point that -- as we haven't learned yet reading dozens of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel articles -- Ryan clearly comes out against raising government revenues, period. He says so to Klein. The rest of Klein's piece is a thing of beauty as he examines the "utterly inflexible" Ryan and his tendency to spew "word salad."
New York Magazine's Jonathon Chait recounted the Klein interview with Ryan for his readers and added more detail .See URL below for Chait's article which links to the Klein interview. Of Klein's blog, Chait wrote:
Ryan usually manages to elide the contradiction between the irreconcilable hopes placed in him by evading questioning, using weasel words, or just filibustering long enough to exhaust the topic. That’s what makes his talk Wednesday with Ezra Klein and other reporters so interesting. Ryan tried to evade the question, but Klein wouldn’t let him until Ryan had made it perfectly clear he would not accept higher revenue at all, under any conditions.
The conversation is worth close examination, because Ryan simply hurls up nonsensical rationales one after another, and finally offers his actual reason when he has run out of gibberish. Ryan begins by pledging his abiding fear of a “debt crisis,” but insists he won’t accept higher revenue, even in return for spending cuts.
But at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Ryan's hometown newspaper, the Janesville Gazette, these are truisms about Ryan that remain murky.
Fact is, Ryan's main "big idea" remains that the US doesn't have a revenue problem but rather a spending problem. He's barely half right. Under Republican congressional leaders and President George W. Bush, the nation went on a massive spending spree, ordering up but not paying for two major wars, a gigantic prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients (and bigger profits for Big Pharma), plus other costs that ran into the trillions and still bedevil today's and future federal budgets. Another outgrowth of Bush era policies was the massive Great Recession, which temporarily pushed federal revenues off the fiscal cliff, before there was a fiscal cliff.
To "pay" for all this record-setting debt, remember, Bush and company also CUT TAXES, mainly on the rich. Now, Ryan like other moderate and fiscal conservatives, persists in ignoring decades of solid Keynesian economic data to the contrary, insisting we have to cut spending drastically, and the main way Ryan et. al. propose to do that is to cut so-called entitlement programs including Medicare and Social Security.
In other words: socialize the debt that resulted from largesse towards corporations, the military and wealthy taxpayers by making most Americans of far lesser means suffer still more.
Ryan lately has tended to turn on a dime when challenged about this (i.e., by other than the Wisconsin press), saying he DOESN'T want to cut entitlements that are earned by worker contributions. But of course, that represents most of those entitlements.
Beyond that, even the Journal Sentinel is still forced to report that Ryan lays out his plan (actually mostly just ideology) "without providing specifics." Like we said: Nothing new from Ryan. And not much new from the Journal Sentinel, except for its even bigger jones for Ryan.