Why Does The DCCC Protect Privatizing Ryan?
The most intellectually ambitious Republican in Congress?
Blue America is approaching the $3,000,000 mark, a mark reached with virtually no big money donations. It's all from the netroots, every dime of it-- with one or two institutional matching funds offered by organizations like People For The American Way, the AFL-CIO and a member of Congress or two. But one of the least successful initiatives Blue America has tried, I have to take complete responsibility for: Stop Paul Ryan. I launched it on March 15, 2009 and as of today only attracted 16 other donors (4 of whom are from Wisconsin) and a grand total of $567.
At the behest of his Wall Street promoters, the Washington Establishment has created a kind of conventional wisdom that passes Paul Ryan off as "the smartest Republican Congress has to offer" and "even" Obama has helped perpetrate the silly truism that Ryan is a serious thinker. Last week, apparently horrified by a Broder-like column in the Washington Post that suspended the concept of critical thinking, Paul Krugman tried to set the record straight on Ryan's smarts and seriousness: "he’s both ignorant and dishonest," he wrote in a post called Don't Know Much About Economics.
Krugman tears apart the carefully crafted conventional wisdom that Ryan is "the most intellectually ambitious Republican in Congress." Obama appointed Ryan to his Deficit Commission-- another vote to dismantle Social Security in the name of making sure the wealthy permanent ruling elite never have to pay their fair share of taxes. (Bush couldn't get it done, so they've tasked Obama with the dirty job.) Unlike Obama, though, Krugman-- who knows more about how economics actually works than both of them squared, comes right out and says, "the truth is that he’s stone-cold ignorant" (Ryan, not the other one). Ignorant... Randian... what's the difference? He's clearly unfit for elective office. And yet... and yet... the DCCC seems stubbornly determined to never, never, never-- don't you dare-- take him on. This year he'll be the most glaring example of a high-profile Republican incumbent in a Democratic-leaning district won by Obama with no plausible opponent, the DCCC having chased Paulette Garin out of the race and replaced her with... well, another Alvin Greene. Between Krugman's and Ezra Klein's columns and the ascension of Heckenlively I decided to post the just updated Blue America page on Ryan here at DWT:
Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan has quietly amassed a very extreme right voting record-- far more extreme, in fact, than his moderate southeast Wisconsin district's residents... and this year, as Ryan has made a play for national prominence, he has tacked even further right, off the cliff in fact, and into territory inhabited by raving fanatics like Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Rob Bishop (R-UT), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Michael Conaway (R-TX), Frank Lucas (R-OK), Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), Geoff Davis (R-KY), Jeff Miller (R-FL), Jerry Moran (R-KS). There is a difference though. All those extremists just listed represent extreme right wing districts where McCain did far better than Obama in November and where what Rush Limbaugh says, goes. WI-01, centered around Kenosha and Racine, isn't like that... not at all. Although the district is overwhelmingly white-- blacks and Hispanics make up about 10% of the population combined-- it isn't some kind of Klan bastion like the others mentioned above. Yet, this year, Ryan has an indentical score with those extremist congressmen. He's become one of the leaders in the House of the die-hard obstructionists, despite the fact that McCain only won 48% of the vote in November, not 76% like in Conaway's backward district or 73% like in Lucas' hate-filled backwater, or even 64% as in Bishop's theocratic hellhole. No, voters in WI-01, who gave Bush 54% of their vote in 2004, signaled that they were ready for the change that Obama was promising.
Ryan, a devoted and mindless Ayn Rand acolyte and an ex-aide to bloated GOP hypocrite Bill Bennett, fancies himself a Club For Growth kind of Republican like many on the lunatic fringe right do. For him Bush's tax cuts for the rich were too small and in Ryan's pinched, Hobbesian little universe, the biggest problems facing Americans are that capital gains taxes on re-invested distributions aren't deferred and that prices on imported bows and arrows are too low; I'm not making this up. Between 1970 and 1994 WI-01 was a Democratic district, to be more precise, the formidable Les Aspin's district (who left the seat to become Secretary of Defense).
In 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006 Ryan's Democratic challenger was Jeffrey Thomas, a retired orthopedic surgeon from Ryan's hometown of Janesville. Thomas' only issue for his first three runs was health care and he never quite cracked a third of the vote but in 2006 he ran against Ryan's shady relationship with Republican corruptionists Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay and went all the way to 37%. In 2006 Ryan raised over $1.6 million and Thomas, who refuses to raise money for campaigns, spent $5,000 of his own. Ryan, meanwhile takes immense amounts of money from the special interests whose priorities he always serves. His biggest financial support comes from the Insurance Industry ($460,901), which appreciates his anti-regulatory fanaticism. Ditto for the Securities and Investments Industries (aka- Wall Street), which shoved $301,949 his way. He got another $226,745 from commercial banks and $209,184 from the Real Estate Industry... and you begin to see how Paul Ryan has been so complicit in the American financial meltdown. It's no wonder he, along with Wall Street faves Boehner and Cantor, led the charge to persuade reluctant Republicans to vote for the 2008 Bush no-strings-attached Wall Street bailout (TARP).
On July 30th, apparently fed up with Inside-the-Beltway, conventional wisdom-- largely pushed by Wall Street and perpetrated by, of all people, Obama-- Paul Krugman decided to point out that this particular little emperor-in-the-making doesn't have a fig leaf to cover his shocking ignorance. In a post titled Don't Know Much About Economics, Krugman lays it out: "the truth is that he’s stone-cold ignorant... [and] 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, all we have to do is figure out why the DCCC has decided to protect his ass and make sure he has no viable opposition.
A little update: the infamous Finance/Insurance/Real Estate sector has now shoveled $1,908,465 in thinly veiled bribes directly into Ryan's campaign coffers-- yes, the same Ryan who's never faced a serious electoral challenge. This is more money than they've given any Wisconsin political figure in history-- including senators and including powerful House members who were already in Congress when Ryan was still skipping rope in his elementary school playground and hadn't even read Atlas Shrugged yet!
UPDATE: Washington Post hooks its wagon up to the circle around Ryan
The Post painted Ryan as an "intellectual" who "[u]nlike most politicians" is working to "bring down the debt." The Post's article was filled with praise of Ryan, repeatedly suggesting that unlike "most politicians of either party" Ryan has produced a serious plan to reduce the deficit. The Post also described Ryan as "cerebral" and as an "intellectual," even though that's an easily seen through, even laughable, front. And even Republicans are afraid of his Randian extremism once they get a sense of what the nonsense he keeps talking about actually means. Many of them, the Post points out, "privately consider [Ryan's] Roadmap a path to electoral disaster" and only 13 Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors of his lunatic fringe proposal.
At a recent appearance touting the Roadmap at the left-leaning Brookings Institution, someone asked Ryan why more conservatives weren't behind his budget plan. "They're talking to their pollsters," Ryan answered, "and their pollsters are saying, 'Stay away from this. We're going to win an election.'"
His remarks illustrate the tension among Republicans over their fall agenda. Some strategists say the GOP should focus on attacking the Democrats; others want the party to offer a detailed governing plan.
The discomfort some Republicans feel for Ryan's proposals goes beyond November. If Republicans were to take control of Congress next year, Ryan will rise to chairman of the Budget Committee. He could use the position to hold colleagues accountable for runaway budget deficits and make it more difficult for fellow Republicans-- and Democrats-- to stuff bills with expensive projects that add to the problem.
And thanks to the DCCC's dogged insistence on protecting Ryan and making sure he never has a credible opponent, the Post was able to mislead it's readers by ending with some classic Inside-the-Beltway truthiness: "He won reelection in 2008 with 62 percent of the vote despite coming from a district and a state that voted for Obama."