Paul Ryan is not a policy wonk, an intellectual, or any of the other relatively admirable things he pretends to be. What he is, is a liar, and the opposite of the fiscal hawk or the policy wonk he likes to portray himself as. Here are 14 quotes1 from Nobel Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman which prove the point, all emphasis mine:
1. From “Galt/Gekko 2012”:
“What I do know is that anyone who believes in Ryan’s carefully cultivated image as a brave, honest policy wonk has been snookered.”
2. From “Galt/Gekko 2012”:
“[…] he [Paul Ryan] is, in fact, a big fraud, who doesn’t care at all about fiscal responsibility, and whose policy proposals are sloppy as well as dishonest.”
3. From “The Ryan Role”:
“Look, Ryan hasn’t “crunched the numbers”; he has just scribbled some stuff down, without checking at all to see if it makes sense. He asserts that he can cut taxes without net loss of revenue by closing unspecified loopholes; he asserts that he can cut discretionary spending to levels not seen since Calvin Coolidge, without saying how; he asserts that he can convert Medicare to a voucher system, with much lower spending than now projected, without even a hint of how this is supposed to work. This is just a fantasy, not a serious policy proposal.”
4. From “Romney/Ryan: The Real Target”:
“Like Bush in 2000, Ryan has a completely undeserved reputation in the media as a bluff, honest guy, in Ryan’s case supplemented by a reputation as a serious policy wonk. None of this has any basis in reality; Ryan’s much-touted plan, far from being a real solution, relies crucially on stuff that is just pulled out of thin air — huge revenue increases from closing unspecified loopholes, huge spending cuts achieved in ways not mentioned.”
5. From “The Truth Has a Well-Known Demogogic Bias”:
“Romney-Ryan actually is a plan to end Medicare as we know it? (And why the quotation marks? That’s what it is – replacing the system with fixed-value vouchers). It is also a plan for drastic cuts in food stamps and Medicaid, not to mention canceling the expansion of coverage under the Affordable Care Act, which would mean lost insurance for tens of millions of Americans – thousands of whom would, in fact, die as a result.”
6. From “What’s in the Ryan Plan?”:
“Ryan basically proposes three big things: slashing Medicaid, cutting taxes on corporations and high-income people, and replacing Medicare with a drastically less well funded voucher system. These concrete proposals would, taken together, actually increase the deficit for the first decade and beyond.”
7. From “Ryan:The First Decade”:
“So if we look at the actual policy proposals, they look like this:
Spending cuts: $1.7 trillion
Tax cuts: $4.3 trillion
This is, then, a plan that would increase the deficit by around $2.6 trillion.
How, then, does Ryan get to call himself a fiscal hawk? By asserting that he will keep his tax cuts revenue-neutral by broadening the base in ways he refuses to specify, and that he will make further large cuts in spending, in ways he refuses to specify.”
8. From “Galt, Gold and God”:
“Mr. Ryan is a man of many ideas, which would ordinarily be a good thing. In his case, however, most of those [his] ideas appear to come from works of fiction, specifically Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged.”
For those who somehow missed it when growing up, “Atlas Shrugged” is a fantasy in which the world’s productive people — the “job creators,” if you like — withdraw their services from an ungrateful society. The novel’s centerpiece is a 64-page speech by John Galt, the angry elite’s ringleader; even Friedrich Hayek admitted that he never made it through that part. Yet the book is a perennial favorite among adolescent boys. Most boys eventually outgrow it. Some, however, remain devotees for life.
And Mr. Ryan is one of those devotees.
And the Ryan fiscal program clearly reflects Randian notions. As I documented in my last column, Mr. Ryan’s reputation for being serious about the budget deficit is completely undeserved; his policies would actually increase the deficit. But he is deadly serious about cutting taxes on the rich and slashing aid to the poor, very much in line with Rand’s worship of the successful and contempt for “moochers.” This last point is important. In pushing for draconian cuts in Medicaid, food stamps and other programs that aid the needy, Mr. Ryan isn’t just looking for ways to save money. He’s also, quite explicitly, trying to make life harder for the poor — for their own good.”
9. From “Galt, Gold and God”:
“ […] it should worry us that Mr. Ryan holds monetary views that would, if put into practice, go a long way toward recreating the Great Depression. ”
10. From “Conventional Contrast”:
“What we [will] remember from the RNC is Chris Christie revealing himself as an egomaniac blowhard, Paul Ryan blowing up his undeserved reputation for honesty in a matter of days, and Clint Eastwood losing a debate with an empty chair.”
11. From “Sympathy for the Doofus”:
“His [Paul Ryan’s] plan was, as I’ve documented many times, a fraud.”
12. From “Delusions of Wonkhood”:
“Ryan is not a wonk. Yes, he likes charts and slides. But he very clearly doesn’t know what his numbers actually mean. When the famous plan was unveiled, it was quite clear that he never even realized that the Heritage projection of his plan’s impact made a completely ridiculous assertion about what would happen to unemployment. Nor did he realize that his assumptions about discretionary spending would require cutting such spending — including defense! — to levels not seen since Calvin Coolidge.”
13. From “Delusions of Wonkhood”:
“One question one might ask is whether Ryan is aware that he isn’t actually a wonk, that he just plays one on TV. Maybe not; some of what he says suggests the Dunning-Kruger effect at work,: he may be so innumerate that he doesn’t realize that he has no idea what the numbers he throws around mean. And after all, why would he, given all the praise he’s received for putting up a line graph or pie chart here and there?
If the fate of the republic weren’t at stake, it would be funny — and painfully embarrassing.”
14. From “An Obvious Shyster”:
“[…] the Ryan story isn’t just about Ryan; it’s about how the establishment allowed itself to be taken in by such an obvious shyster, despite warnings from many of us that he was, well, an obvious shyster.”
1All quotes were taken from articles published in August or September 2012.