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Krugman: Ryan Goes Running With the Truth

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Posted on Sep 3, 2012
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According to Paul Krugman, GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan is a lot like Rosie Ruiz, the first woman to cross the finish line in the 1980 Boston Marathon. Ruiz was subsequently stripped of that victory when it turned out she hadn’t actually run most of the race.

Ruiz, Krugman notes, became synonymous with a type of fraud where people take credit for something they haven’t achieved. In Paul Ryan’s case, there are multiple “Rosie Ruiz” examples. But one recent instance in particular actually involved a marathon. You may have heard about Ryan’s boast that he once ran a sub three-hour marathon. The Wisconsin congressman was forced to walk that one back after Runner’s World magazine investigated the claim, looking through scores of marathon results and not finding a single result that matched Ryan’s claim. It turned out his time was more than four hours.

Taken alone, Ryan’s little marathon lie probably doesn’t mean much. But, as Krugman points out, when you combine it with all of the things he’s boasted about—but hasn’t really accomplished—a disturbing pattern begins to emerge that “resonates with the essential Rosie-Ruizness of Mr. Ryan’s whole political persona. ... ”

Paul Krugman in The New York Times:

Mr. Ryan, as you may recall, has positioned himself as an icon of truth-telling and fiscal responsibility, while offering policy proposals that are neither honest nor responsible. He calls for huge tax cuts, while proposing specific spending cuts that, while inflicting immense hardship on our most vulnerable citizens, would fall far short of making up for the revenue loss. His claims to reduce the deficit therefore rely on assertions that he would make up for the lost revenue by closing loopholes that he refuses to specify, and achieve further huge spending cuts in ways that he also refuses to specify.

But didn’t the Congressional Budget Office evaluate Mr. Ryan’s plan and conclude that it would indeed reduce the deficit? I’m glad you asked that. You see, the budget office didn’t actually evaluate his plan, because there weren’t enough details. Instead, it let Mr. Ryan specify paths for future spending and revenue, while noting — in what sounds to me like a hint of snark — that “No proposals were specified that would generate that path.”

So Mr. Ryan basically told the budget office to assume that his plan would slash the deficit, then claimed the resulting report as vindication of his deficit-slashing claims. Sorry, but that’s the policy equivalent of sneaking into a marathon near the finish line, then claiming victory.

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