Weekend Long Reads: “The Facts Are In, and Paul Ryan Is A Jackass”

Pay all due attention to the little man behind the curtain. An argument worth forwarding, from Jon Chait at NYMag:

Changes in the way we think about the world are not “news” in the classic sense — they occur gradually, without discrete events to signal them. But they matter. Two such developments have come together recently, both reported in the New York Times. The first is the collapse of intellectual support for the notion that immediate austerity can boost economic growth. The second is a growing consensus that health-care-cost inflation is slowing for deep structural reasons, rather than having undergone a mere temporary dip from the recession. These trends have something in common: They blow to smithereens the intellectual foundations of the Obama-era Republican policy agenda.

During the last four years, the hoary Republican nostrums of lower taxes, spending, and regulation have cohered into a specific view of the world. Paul Ryan has been the leading figure in defining this view and persuading the entire party, almost without exception, to fall in line behind it. The Ryan worldview is that the United States is heading toward a massive debt crisis, that the crisis is driven primarily by rising health-care costs, and only his plan stands any chance of alleviating it. Ryan has expounded this view over and over…

It is of course unfair to judge the merits of an analysis solely by the rhetoric of its politicians; politicians have to sand off the rough and complicated edges of their ideas to appeal to a majority. The deeper expression of the Ryan worldview comes from Yuval Levin, a close adviser to Ryan, probably the most influential conservative intellectual of the Obama era (and who was recently recognized as such and granted a $250,000 Bradley Prize)….

Levin’s arguments were hyperbolic versions of the critique of Obama that resonated among respectable centrists. The trillion-dollar deficits were shocking, dangerous; Obamacare didn’t do anything to limit the continuous rise of health-care costs. These propositions maintained enough political respectability that Republicans could turn (hyperbolized) versions of them into the premise for their domestic policy and be treated as sagacious guardians of fiscal responsibility.

The doctrine of expansionary austerity — the premise that we must cut deficits not just eventually but immediately — has suffered a series of disastrous reversals. It has failed repeatedly in Europe, and its most prestigious academic basis, a paper by Harvard’s Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, was exposed for a series of fundamental errors. A New York Times article this week represented a watershed, baldly stating in its headline, as the entire macroeconomic forecasting field has understood all along, that the short-term deficit was too low, no longer a counterintuitive dissent but a clear and barely contested reality.

Less visible, and possibly more interesting, is the growing mass of evidence that the health-care-cost inflation problem is indeed solvable….

Much more at the link.

71 replies
  1. 1
    28 Percent says:

    B-b-bu-bu-but…. Benghazi!

  2. 2
    pokeyblow says:

    Ryan sure likes his fine wine, courtesy of Cliff Assness and little Johnny Cochrane, Eugene Fama’s adoring son-in-law.

  3. 3
    Yatsuno says:

    But Ryan BELIEVES this, and to him that’s all that matters. Your “facts” are just a bunch of hippie mumbo-jumbo.

  4. 4
    pokeyblow says:

    @Yatsuno: So do you think I’m a racist?

  5. 5
    Lee Rudolph says:

    @Yatsuno: Why do you believe he believes it?

  6. 6
    Baud says:

    Ryan has always opposed austerity. #mediaspin

  7. 7
    Brother Machine Gun of Desirable Mindfulness (fka AWS) says:


  8. 8
    Mike in NC says:

    Niall Ferguson was impressed by “the rise of Ryan”, so that has to count for something. Of course, Sarah Palin gave a lot of wingnuts a certain kind of rise, also too.

  9. 9
    craigie says:

    Republican economic dogma is wrong? Knock me down with a feather…

  10. 10
    Mnemosyne says:

    Taking a short break from a major home reorganization. Moving one’s crapload of books from one room to another really sucks, particularly when said books need to be re-organized at the same time.

    Once I get all of the books sorted, carried into the other room, and put back on the shelf, then I get to build my new bookshelf/cabinet from Ikea and put all of my craft books onto that one. It’s gonna be a long weekend, and not in the good way.

  11. 11
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Lee Rudolph:

    Your snark detector may need servicing.

  12. 12
    Lee Rudolph says:

    @Brother Machine Gun of Desirable Mindfulness (fka AWS): Someone hid Cole’s Chaiting is.

  13. 13
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Mike in NC: Well with Palin, it was accompanied by STARBURSTS.

  14. 14
    MattF says:

    It helps to be right, but there’s also a question of political temperament: Which would you rather be– certain and wrong or uncertain and possibly either right or wrong? I’d say it’s not surprising that the people who have been the most certain are turning out to be wrong, but what do I know?

  15. 15
  16. 16
    raven says:

    I spent the day touring around Rhode Island and even went to the Whaling Museum in New Bedford. Make my redfish skull look pretty puny! I was hoping to go out tomorrow but the boat called and cancelled and said maybe the outfit next to them would go. I hate to spend another day driving around but Cape Cod may be it.

  17. 17
    Old Dan and Little Ann says:

    @raven: I visited the New Bedford Whaling Museum a year ago next week. Neat place.

  18. 18
    mclaren says:

    The larger problem, as Krugman has pointed out, is that the behavior of our policymaking elites is unlikely to change even in the wake of the complete collapse of delusions like macroeconomic austerity as a mechanism for GDP expansion.

    Most likely, the opinion-makers inside the Beltway and the Obots on this forum will simply shift to another argument in favor of crushing the poor, destroying the American middle class, and continuing the endless unwinnable wars and the crazy out-of-control police state domestic surveillance-torture-anti-terror machine that drain our treasury dry — and we’ll find the money to continue those crazy policies by slashing medicare and social security. We’ll simply be told by Obama and his corrupt sociopathic advisors that some new scheme with the same effect as economic austerity must be rammed down the throats of the American people.

    America’s elites understand what George Washington knew in 1789: “Government is not reason, it is not eloquent — it is force!”

    The corporatist obot Democrats together with the corrupt socipathic Republicans don’t care which new arguments they have to gin up to do it — they’re dead set on steering the chicken-driven clown car called “America” straight off the cliff. To them, the only argument of merit is: which chicken should drive?

  19. 19
    Linda Featheringill says:


    What are you doing up there in Yankeeland?

  20. 20
    Anne Laurie says:


    I hate to spend another day driving around but Cape Cod may be it.

    True story: Local news pointed out that the busiest day of the year on the Pike (I-90, which runs straight across the center of Massachusetts) is the Friday before Mother’s Day. Rte. 6, across Cape Cod, is hellish driving anytime between April and October, so you may want to stick to the back roads. Or maybe take your camera to the Roger Williams Botanical Center and give your lady wife a major jealous!

  21. 21
    raven says:

    @Linda Featheringill: I went to my Vietnam Unit Reunion in North Providence last night. I was originally going to go back tomorrow but we are having a recognition ceremony at the capitol Monday so I decided to stay.

  22. 22
    raven says:

    @Anne Laurie: I sent her a picture of whatever that college at the end cliff walk at Newport is and said, “look there are 50 Dowton Abbey’s here”! Coming back from the Whaling Museum I decided to use siri to find “the best Pizza in Providence” thinking I’d end up somewhere near where I was last night. I just followed google maps and ended up at a joint next to the Brown campus that didn’t even SELL pizza, just calzones! Number 2 was Angelino’s and it was fine but I was hoping for something a little more earthy.

  23. 23
  24. 24
    Tom Levenson says:

    @raven: That museum is the bees knees. Too little known, IMHO. Have you been to the Julia Morgan down at Mystic Seaport?

  25. 25
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    “The Facts Are In, and Paul Ryan Is A Jackass”

    Facts? As if Republicans are influenced by facts, or reason, or science, or logic, or…

  26. 26
    raven says:

    @Tom Levenson: I am flying totally blind. I went down to Galilee this morning to check out the boats and then just lit out. I would have sprung for a chopper ride in Newport but they won’t take singles. I had no clue about the mansions except I think efg mentioned it the other day. I wake up so early, and don’t sleep worth a damn on the road, that I may just drag my ass down to the dock again @ 5:30 and play it by ear. I’ll have to google Julia Morgan.

  27. 27
    raven says:

    @Tom Levenson: Wow, that looks great! I went to the battle ship a Fall River but I didn’t want to pop $17 since I’ve toured the Alabama and North Carolina in the last couple of years. I like to look of this. Too bad their website is dead.

  28. 28
    Anne Laurie says:

    Lilacs in Newport, and Providence, should be near peak right now. And the bearded irises should just be blossoming. Even if you don’t want to pay the $$$ to get into those Downton Abbey ‘cottages’, you should be able to get into the grounds & gardens?

  29. 29
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    What happens to the larger economy will mean little to politicians of either stripe.
    What happens to the economy of the 1% will drive policy. The rest is just rationalization.

  30. 30
    raven says:

    @Anne Laurie: Are those the purple things. I thought they were tulip poplars but that’s what I know. They are jumpin.


  31. 31
    gene108 says:


    The larger problem, as Krugman has pointed out, is that the behavior of our policymaking elites is unlikely to change even in the wake of the complete collapse of delusions like macroeconomic austerity as a mechanism for GDP expansion.

    Now, if you could only fit that onto a bumper sticker, come election time, you might could get some folks voted out of office and thus cause a bit of change.

  32. 32
    lamh36 says:

    Sometimes I misd having premium channels and then one of no-HBOs shows a movie like Highlander:Endgame. What’s not to love? I loved both the television series and the movies. Endgame has them both all in one movie!

  33. 33
    Steeplejack says:


    [. . .] new bookshelf/cabinet from Ikea [. . .]

    Which one did you get?

  34. 34
    Steeplejack says:


    Rent a bicycle and take a ride.

  35. 35
    mclaren says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Facts? As if Republicans policymakers and their advisors are influenced by facts, or reason, or science, or logic, or…

    There. Fixed that for you.

  36. 36
    mclaren says:


    Hauling around thousands of copies of Mein Kampf must be a big job.

  37. 37
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    probably the most influential conservative intellectual of the Obama era

    Seems like a low bar to clear.

    Glad there’s finally some pushback on this, but all the misguided crusading against deficits has hurt the economy so much it seems like it can’t be turned around short term.

  38. 38
    Mike in NC says:

    Lived in Newport, RI from 1986-89 until I got laid off and moved to DC. Pretty boring, actually. Lots of good restaurants and the Naval War College Museum, but not much else.

  39. 39
    pluky says:

    @raven: Salve Regina, fyi.

  40. 40
    mclaren says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    Is there such a thing as a “conservative intellectual?”

    Isn’t that a bit like a “chaste rapist” or a “compassionate serial killer”?

  41. 41
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @mclaren: See ya found the brown acid.

  42. 42
    raven says:

    @Steeplejack: Maybe so but if fishing gets rained out I dunno.

  43. 43
    raven says:

    @pluky: Yea!

  44. 44
    mclaren says:


    People like Mnemosyne who belligerently argue in favor of the president murdering U.S. citizens without a trial or charges are fascists.

    And they need to be publicly identified as such.

  45. 45
    Steeplejack says:


    I meant for Cape Cod. Didn’t remember you are in Providence.

  46. 46
    chopper says:


    lol, mein kampf. you know we’re all just laughing at you.

  47. 47
    cathyx says:

    @mclaren: IOKIODI. It’s ok if Obama does it.

  48. 48
    mclaren says:


    Of course you are. That’s what kooks and cranks and crackpots do. They laugh at global warming, they laugh at Peak Oil, they laugh and laugh and laugh.

    Such escapades do not end well.

  49. 49
    geg6 says:


    Yeah, Jeebus the stupid is strong tonight. Mein Kampf? I’m thinking our child must never have read it. And unaware of all Internet traditions.

  50. 50
    chopper says:


    they also laugh at bozo the clown.

    seriously, i know you’re one of those people who crave being taken seriously, but you’re a clown. you’re worse than a clown, you’re ‘somebody who talks big on the internet’. you’re worthless.

  51. 51
    Betsy says:

    @raven: that picture is mislabeled. It is of a saucer magnolia, not a tulip poplar.

  52. 52
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @mclaren: IDK, she seems rather pleasant, didn’t see an armband or anything like that yesterday evening.

    @Tom Levenson: Same Julia Morgan who designed Hearst Castle?

  53. 53
    chopper says:


    IDK, she seems rather pleasant, didn’t see an armband or anything like that yesterday evening.

    that’s what she wants you to think. crypto-nazis are clever that way. did you put on the special sunglasses that let you see the lizard people for what they really are?

  54. 54
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @chopper: Damn, knew I should have picked up the blue sunglasses at the $.99 store.

  55. 55
    Seth Owen says:

    @raven — missed opportunity. You get a lot more than “just” a battleship at Battleship Cove. Besides Big Mamie there are two PT boats, a submarine, the Joseph Kennedy (used in the movie Thirteen Days) and a missile corvette. Plus thousands of model ships, planes and tanks and all sorts of other stuff. If you pass through again spend the $17. You won’t regret it.

  56. 56
    Seth Owen says:

    The whaling ship at Mystic is the Charles W. Morgan. It’s actually undergoing repairs now.

  57. 57
    The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    @Betsy: there are magnolias that are referred to sometimes as “tulip trees”, which seems to cause confusion.

  58. 58
    chopper says:


    take my advice. i had to fight ‘rowdy’ roddy piper for 15 minutes straight to get him to put those fuckin’ things on.

  59. 59
    Steeplejack says:

    Somebody give Raven a pizza recommendation in Providence! I thought that city is supposed to be a pizza mecca, or at least a demi-mecca.

  60. 60
    chopper says:


    my only recommendation for pizza in providence would be to drive a few hours down to brooklyn.

  61. 61
    Steeplejack says:


    So, not a mecca, then.

    But I seem to remember reading/hearing somewhere that Providence is the original home of the first and/or best [some kind of pizza].

  62. 62
    The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    @chopper: hah, that’s a fun movie. That fight scene is something else. Keith David was the other guy, right?

  63. 63
    JoyfulA says:

    @raven: Lilacs are like bushes, usually not more than 6 feet high. They have a strong floral scent. They can be dark purple, light purple, white, or pink.

    Tulip trees are huge (tallest known tree in the East: 191-foot tulip tree). Mine is maybe 100 feet tall and towers over our ranch house. (They were probably built and planted about the same time.) It doesn’t look quite like that picture. For one thing, the flowers are yellow, almost chartreuse. It attracts Baltimore orioles, which I hadn’t seen since childhood.

  64. 64
    The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    @JoyfulA: here is a picture of a lilac.

  65. 65
    JoyfulA says:

    @The prophet Nostradumbass: Indeed, I can almost smell it.

    I passed a driveway the other day with six of them planted in a row, all in full bloom. I’ve got azaleas in bloom now, which are nice, but I’d rather have lilacs.

  66. 66
    mclaren says:


    It’s great that you’ve found an environment where you feel free to fail so spectacularly. That’s how people learn.

  67. 67
    Steeplejack says:


    Hey, we have experts here to consult. Omnes even has his own custom IKEA tool set.

  68. 68
    Gwangung says:

    @mclaren: Ah. So that’s why you hang around here. Learning much, you are.

  69. 69
    Mnemosyne says:


    Technically, it’s a glass-door cabinet with drawers, not a bookshelf, but books will be going on the shelves inside the cabinet. I needed the extra storage space of the drawers for my knitting stuff. I got all of the non-fiction moved into the office and I’ll start moving the fiction onto a couple of narrow Billy bookcases I already have. It’s 90 percent mass market, so I’m hoping everything will fit.

    I would have bought new bookcases to replace my existing ones, which are a little too short, but Ikea stopped making the 24″ wide Billy ones and those were the only ones that would fit in that spot. Grr.

  70. 70
    Mnemosyne says:


    One of my all-time favorite movies!


    I’ve assembled lots of Ikea furniture in my time, so I’m prepared. Target furniture is FAR more poorly engineered than Ikea furniture, as I found out the hard way.

    I keep looking for another opportunity to buy something from the Realspace collection at Office Depot, because I was really impressed with how easy it was to put together. They even had the hardware for each step packaged separately in a numbered package, so you didn’t have to pre-sort the screws.

  71. 71
    chopper says:


    swing, and a miss.

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