Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Paul Ryan: Boy Policy Wonk

The tide is finally turning on Paul Ryan. Somebody turned on a fan and blew away the smoke. The mirrors have cracks in them. The Washington Post:
The Republican ticket says it could pay for its tax cut by eliminating loopholes. But the biggest loopholes are popular: the exclusion from taxation of employer-sponsored health insurance and the deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes. Pressed by the assiduous Mr. Wallace about which of these Mr. Ryan would limit, the nominee pleaded a lack of time. “It would take me too long to go through all of that,” he said.
The GOP wants voters to think that only the rich would be affected by its loophole closing. “And don’t forget that the higher-income people have a disproportionate amount of the loopholes that they use,” Mr. Ryan said. Well, actually, no. Higher-income people reap a “disproportionate amount” of the benefit of lower rates on capital gains and dividends — households earning more than $200,000 a year receive 90 percent of the benefit. But the Romney-Ryan plan would leave that break in place. Most of the remaining major tax breaks flow primarily to households earning $200,000 or less. For example, more than two-thirds of the benefit of the deduction for home mortgage interest goes to those making less than $200,000 a year. [Italics are my emphasis.]
Paul Krugman is shocked!
Way back in 2010 I took a real look at Paul Ryan’s much-praised plan, and quickly determined that it was essentially a fraud. I pronounced him a flimflam man. And according to my sources, the Very Serious People of Washington were greatly annoyed. They had decided that Ryan was a Brave Truth-Teller; you weren’t supposed to question that premise. Indeed, months later Ryan received a “Fiscy” award for fiscal responsibility.
So you’ll forgive me if my eyes popped a bit on seeing VSP Central, aka the Washington Post, publishing an editorial titled, yes, Paul Ryan’s budget flimflam, accusing him of faking it and “hiding behind a flimsy scaffolding of pseudo-wonkiness.” Quite.
Look, I’m glad to see this sinking in. As Jonathan Chait says,
Paul Ryan’s selection as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential candidate is subjecting him to all manner of strange new indignities, such as questions about public policy that are different than those that his own press staff would have written.
And the results aren’t pretty.
But can I suggest in future that if I say that somebody is a fraud, the VSPs at least consider the possibility that I know what I’m talking about?
Paul Krugman is also no stranger to self-esteem. I guess having a Nobel Prize can do that to a person.

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