It is a rare thing to read conservative criticism of Paul Ryan. While there are plenty of Republican insiders who see his plan to cut entitlements, such as Social Security and Medicare, as political anathema, those who fashion themselves conservatives intellectuals rarely have anything but slathering praise for their Janesville boy.
So it was refreshing to see conservative blogger Nick Schweitzer give all of Ryan's internet groupies a reality check last week. He does it in a response to a recent column by Paul Krugman, in which the liberal economist called Ryan a charlatan and his spending "roadmap" a fraud.
While Krugman calls Ryan a charlatan and claims that Ryan's numbers are fraudulent, I believe that Ryan is actually a charlatan because were Ryan given the opportunity to vote for his own plan, given his past voting on fiscal measures, he would actually vote against it. I know I seem like a broken record on this, but that's because everyone continues to ignore Ryan's voting history.
Let's start with the fact that the Roadmap for America's Future has been revised to version 2.0. One of the reasons why the revision was required was because in the time between version 1 and version 2, significant new spending was passed by Congress which totally destroyed all the base numbers in version 1. Among those new spending increases were the auto bailout and TARP. Both of which were supported by Ryan.
Even worse is Ryan's flip flop on Medicare. If you read the Roadmap, he talks very bluntly about the need to control Medicare spending, and how it's an entitlement which has grown out of control. What Ryan never says, is that he voted for the largest increase to the Medicare entitlement since it was originally enacted... Medicare Part D. In other words, he helped to create the very problem that he now wants to solve. How generous of him.
Well Nick, there's nothing wrong with a frank apology and a sturdy olive branch. But that's certainly not the way the rhetoric is framed. Much in the same way that Reagan is the emblem of a small government that he never created, Ryan has become a spokesman for the small government movement that he has frequently voted against. Rhetoric matters more than reality, especially when the speaker is articulate and has a full head of hair...come to think of it Ryan's hairdo is suspiciously similar to Reagan's.
"He's not saying the world's going to be full of butterscotch sundaes," is how Jeb Bush described the plan to me recently. "He's saying: 'Eat your broccoli. And then maybe you don't get to eat at all for a few days. You don't get steak - ever.' "
I think the bankers Ryan voted to bail out have had plenty of steak dinners in the last year.