Wednesday, December 08, 2010

If Paul Ryan was touting an ANTI-corporate line, he'd already be a marked man


Where might the political-cash flow come from to hold the economic royalists of the 112th Congress accountable?

"So this is the smartest Republican Congress has to offer?"
-- Paul Krugman, in a July 30 blogpost,
"Don't Know Much About Economics"

by Ken

Howie has referred to it, as you can see on the Blue America page Stop Paul Ryan, but I think it's worth resurrecting in full this July 30 blogpost of Paul Krugman's (many more links in the posted version):
JULY 30, 2010, 2:21 PM
Don’t Know Much About Economics

Hoo boy. I missed this; but Yglesias points out that in Ezra Klein’s interview with Paul Ryan, Ryan says that the way to increase lending is to raise interest rates:
We need to do things to free up credit. We need regulatory forbearance there. Right now, the policymakers and regulators are doing opposite things. So you’re right that there’s a lot of capital parked out there, and we need to coax it out into the markets. I think literally that if we raised the federal funds rate by a point, it would help push money into the economy, as right now, the safest play is to stay with the federal money and federal paper.
I don’t even know where to start with this. What does Ryan think the fed funds rate is? (It’s the rate at which banks lend each other money overnight, usually to help meet reserve requirements.) He obviously doesn’t know the the Fed funds rate basically equals the return on federal paper, so that raising that rate would make banks more, not less, likely to stay with that federal paper. I’m sure someone will try to come up with a reason why Ryan is being smart here, but the truth is that he’s stone-cold ignorant.

Now, he wouldn’t be the only ignorant member of Congress. But wait — my colleague David Brooks tells me, this very morning, that
Paul Ryan, the most intellectually ambitious Republican in Congress, lavishly cites Brooks’s book. Over the past few years, Ryan has been promoting a roadmap to comprehensively reform the nation’s tax and welfare system.
So this is the smartest Republican Congress has to offer?

Of course, Ryan’s idea of fiscal reform is to run huge deficits for decades, but claim that it’s all OK because we’ll cut spending 40 years from now; and he throws a hissy fit when people challenge his numbers, or call privatization by its real name.

But hey, he’s intellectually ambitious.

Update: And sure enough, Ryan tries to cover himself; see the addendum at the end of Ezra’s interview. But he’s faking it: there’s no way to go from what he now claims he was saying to the words he actually said. So he’s both ignorant and dishonest, which we already knew from the way he tried to deny that privatizing Social Security was actually, um, privatizing Social Security.

Now Paul Ryan is egregious enough to be worth of a host of blastposts in his own right, and Howie has been pretty steadily on his case. (One shudders to think what there's going to be to report about him in the course of the 112th Congress.) And if you haven't visited the Stop Paul Ryan page recently, I encourage you to do so.

Did you remember, for example, that the House seat Ryan occupies, Wisconsin's 1st, was occupied from 1971 until January 1993, when he became Bill Clinton's secretary of defense (succeeding, it's worth remembering, Dick Cheney!), by fairly liberal Democrat Les Aspin. (Aspin was elected in 1970 as a peace candidate opposed to the Vietnam War.) It's not, in other words, an obvious electoral safe haven for a wingnut crackpot, no matter how fancy his pseudo-intellectual pretensions.

(With regard to those intellectual pretensions, let's be real now. How smart do you have to be to snooker David Brooks? This is a guy who basically walks around with a hand-lettered sign taped to his back begging, "FOOL ME! FOOL ME HARD!")

Which brings me to what my point is: namely that if the ideological polarities of the situation were reversed -- if, that is, Ryan was spearheading opposition to the corporate oligarchs' agenda -- he would be a marked man. All the sources of right-wing venom, and, more importantly, freely flowing right-wing cash, would be gathering to make his future political life a living hell. There would be nonstop arousal in the friendly media cathouse as part of a nonstop barrage aimed at his constituents drumming home the theme that this is the man who steals from everyone else to add riches to the already-overflowing coffers of the superrich. A like fate should befall all the Fraternal Crackpots of the 112th, especially those who come from constituencies where they're electorally vulnerable.

Some of that right-wing cash would come from crackpot zillionaires who are simply ideological whackjobs. Most of it, however, would come from zillionaires who may be wackos but who rightly think of all that loot they contribute as an investment, one they expect to pay off handsomely as their political whores acquire governmental power and exercise it in their masters' interests.

We have no such donors on the Left. Oh, we've got our rich folks, and even some good ones like George Soros who give generously because they sincerely believe in a different political environment. Our other rich folks have no larger incentive than good feeling or charity, which is neither as powerful nor as reliable nor as enduring as the motivation of an investment that stands to repay its investors many times over.

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At 2:52 AM, Blogger Bula said...

Ken, as a resident of WI 1 I have to disagree. It is now a safe have for Darth Ryan. When Les Aspin was in office there were thousands of well paying union jobs in the auto industry. And they voted Democratic.

Darth Ryan has allowed or been complicit in the political cleansing of the district. He wouldn't lift a finger to help a working stiff.

The jobs are gone, people move away for lack of opportunity and the constituents are now wealthy farmers and small business owners.

Bright red.


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