Rep. Paul Ryan Hypocritically Blames "Misinformation" For Budget Backlash

May 02, 2011 3:31 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

In the political world, the summer of 2009 was defined by rowdy town hall meetings with Tea Party protesters shouting down supporters of health care reform. At the time, Republican lawmakers routinely cited the disruptions, which were relentlessly hyped by conservative media outlets like Fox News, as evidence of widespread opposition to President Obama's reform efforts.  

Like most of his colleagues, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) accepted the demonstrations as a legitimate reflection of public opposition to health care reform (via Nexis):

RYAN: Now, my town halls ran about nine or eight to one against the healthcare bill — and my district is, according to Charlie Cook, the most swing district in Congress. It's a district that Barack Obama won. And so what I did not see was some fringe right coming out. I saw real people spontaneously coming out to talk to their member of Congress with great concerns about the direction of all of these bills coming through Congress, but, in particular, the health care bill. [...]

People were just really concerned about the direction of this country and this health care bill in particular.

But now that Ryan's radical budget and Medicare overhaul are the subject of a similar backlash, the congressman suddenly sees things a bit differently. In an interview on ABC's This Week, Ryan dismissed the uproar as a product of the "anxiety of the times" and "misinformation." As Raw Story reports:

Outraged constituents have showed up at town hall events across the country to protest a Republican budget plan that would end Medicare as it exists today but Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) says it's all been a misunderstanding.

"The crowds are really getting bigger and people are getting much more anxious about where the country is headed," Ryan told ABC's Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Sunday.

"This is the sign of the times, I think. I think it's sign of anxiety of the times and sign of misinformation perpetrated out there."

Of course, the same could have been said in August 2009, when the economy was in much worse shape and Republicans were spreading rumors about "death panels" and other alleged evils of the health care bill. And in fact, conservatives — especially Ryan — have brought the same commitment to dishonesty to the current debate over the Republican budget. Fortunately, they just haven't been as successful at fooling people.