On Right-Wing Radio, Rep. Paul Ryan Lurches Between Desperate, Contrary Talking Points

November 01, 2011 11:15 am ET — Alan Pyke

Despite some signs that Republicans are waking up to popular support for progressive policies on taxes, deficits and job creation, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) appears determined to avoid engaging that support honestly. On Sean Hannity's radio show yesterday he gave wildly dishonest depictions of President Obama's proposals while simultaneously decrying Democratic arguments as "intellectually lazy" and 'straw men.'

HANNITY: You pointed out something earlier: The president was successful, he got all his plans through.

RYAN: Right.

HANNITY: He got what he wanted.

RYAN: He passed all these things.

HANNITY: So why are they complaining, because now that didn't work, so now they're gonna say you stopped it when in fact you didn't stop it, you couldn't stop it.

RYAN: Couldn't stop it, and now they wanna do stimulus which is virtually identical to the earlier stimulus bill only half as large, yet this time with a permanent tax increase on job creators. They wanna bring the top individual tax rate to 50 percent, and what they fail to acknowledge is that 80 percent of all American businesses file their taxes as individuals...so their top tax rate on 80 percent of American businesses is going to go to 50 percent when countries like Canada are lowering their business tax to 15, China's at 25. It's a recipe for economic malaise, for managed decline, for job loss.

But Sean I guess I would go this way, it's the ultimate straw man argument, it's a scapegoating argument and that's why I called it an intellectually lazy argument. Try to affix positions to your adversaries: they want dirty air, dirty water, they don't care, or they just want the economy to go down— these aren't positions we have, obviously. ... But the idea here is to set up a straw man argument so you can win the debate by default and therefore sort of nullify the notion that there's another path forward for America, that Republicans actually have other ideas and solutions to these problems.


Regular readers will note the pure insanity of Paul "We Have A Choice Of Two Futures" Ryan accusing anyone of dishonestly narrowing the number of options facing the country. That's how his entire movement frames the current political moment: We're at an "American Crossroads" between "irreversible decline" and the "Path To Prosperity."

Ryan's claim that Obama got everything he wanted out of Congress in his first two years is laughable, but he seems to actually believe that ahistorical hogwash — and the hostility to facts doesn't stop there. His logic in claiming that Democrats would tax "80 percent of American businesses" at "a 50 percent rate" assumes that every one of those businesses is in a top tax bracket, even though it's well established that hardly any are.

Note too that neither Ryan nor Hannity explains what they believe is inaccurate about Obama's "dirtier air" line. But when Republicans talk about blocking new regulations, revoking old ones, and even rolling back every regulation passed since 1991, it becomes a factual statement to say that the Republican plan would lead to dirtier air and water. As we wrote two months ago, a single Environmental Protection Agency regulation targeted by Republican House leadership is estimated to prevent 400,000 cases of aggravated asthma, 1.8 million sick days, and tens of thousands of deaths every year. You have to be either ignorant of public policy or willing to lie through your teeth to say the "dirtier air" line is inaccurate. And given that seconds earlier Ryan told Hannity that Democrats are pushing for the "managed decline" of America, it's breathtaking to hear him whine about Obama "try[ing] to affix positions to your adversaries" to win an argument.

Sadly, this is all too common a combination from the GOP's favorite budget bully. He is almost constantly wrong about policy facts and favors the I'm-rubber-you're-glue response when a particular criticism hits home.