Flim Flammed: Last year, when I described Paul Ryan as a flim flam man, many Beltway types were deeply annoyed. They had decided that he was serious and sincere — worthy of receiving fiscal responsibility awards — and did not want to hear any negatives. And even after the cracks in the House budget proposal became apparent, much of the commentariat clung to the view that whatever you might think of Ryan’s priorities, he really is serious and sincere.
But he isn’t.
Jon Cohn points out that the real question about the Ryan plan isn’t whether it reduces the deficit in the right way; it’s whether it reduces the deficit at all. And Cohn doesn’t even take on the giant magic asterisk on the tax part of the plan: Ryan claims that he will keep revenue at 19 percent of GDP despite large tax cuts, by closing loopholes — but has said nothing at all about which loopholes would be closed. The truth is that this is almost surely a deficit-increasing plan, not a deficit-reducing plan.
Meanwhile, Jon Chait looks at Ryan being interviewed about his plan and sees “a stream of misleading and outright false claims”. Notably, his denial of the plain fact that his plan hurts the poor while benefiting the rich — and the evasive language used to obscure what it really going on — is exactly the kind of thing we got accustomed to during the Bush years.
I don’t know when if ever the Beltway crowd will admit it, but they were, indeed, flim flammed; the man they decided was an upright, honest deficit hawk is in fact an evasive, dissembling guy who wants to use the deficit, not end it.