Reprising Krugman’s column from April 30, 2012
Jonathan Chait has an excellent piece on Paul Ryan, which shows not just that he’s a fake deficit hawk now, but that he always was — he was an enthusiastic supporter of all of Bush’s budget-busters, spending as well as taxes.
Yet, as Chait also says, Ryan is still — still — beloved by “centrists”, who get very annoyed when someone (i.e., me) points out the fraudulence. How can this be?
Chait’s main answer is that reporters don’t know policy, so they’re easily taken in by image. But I don’t buy that. For one thing, they do generally love the “gotcha” style of journalism — you say A, but you used to say B — and as Chait has just demonstrated, you can have a field day doing that on Ryan.
Also, what about the Very Serious deficit-hawk groups that gave Ryan an award for fiscal responsibility? They can crunch numbers; they can surely see as clearly as I can that Ryan’s plans are fake, that when you strip out the implausible and unspecified they amount to a deficit-increasing plan to take from the poor and give to the rich.
The real story here isn’t so much about Ryan as it is about the fundamental unseriousness of the Very Serious, who are in their own way just as much about striking a pose unrelated to their real actions as Ryan himself.