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Paul Ryan? Seriously?

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The House Budget Committee chairman imagines himself as a high priest speaking unfortunate truths about debts and deficits, the unforgiving foe of social spending who would gladly sacrifice Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on the altar of debt reduction. Ryan has branded himself well within Republican circles, so well that he has parlayed himself into contention for the vice presidential nod. To get that nomination, however, Ryan must count on the prospect that the party that takes as its symbol the memory-rich elephant will suddenly suffer a spell of forgetfulness. That's because the Republican congressman from Wisconsin, for all his bluster, is anything but a consistent advocate for fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets. He is, in fact, a hypocrite.

Or, to be more precise, a hypocritical big spender -- at least when Wall Street, the insurance industry and the military-industrial complex call.

Ryan has been a steady voter for unwise bailouts of big banks, unfunded mandates and unnecessary wars. Few members of Congress have run up such very big tabs while doing so little to figure out how to pay the piper. How has Ryan gotten away with his fool-most-of-the-people-most-of-the-time politics?

For the most part, he has until recently flown under the radar -- dazzling fellow Republicans with fiscal fancy footwork, while dancing around weak Democratic opposition in his home district.

But no more. This year, Ryan is being called out by an able challenger with actual experience in the private sector, as well as local government. Rob Zerban, the congressman's Democratic challenger, is not fooled by Ryan's budgetary blathering.

Zerban is familiar with Ryan's record. And he has been calling the budget committee chairman out on his "faux fiscal credentials."

"Congressman Paul Ryan can grandstand about the debt all he wants, but at the end of the day, Ryan is a root cause of many of the financial issues our country faces today," says Zerban. "From supporting two unfunded wars, to dumping millions of senior citizens into the Medicare Part D 'donut hole' while tying the hands of the government to negotiate prescription drug prices, and from fighting for subsidies for Big Oil that his family personally benefits from, to supporting the unfunded Bush tax cuts for his wealthiest campaign contributors, Paul Ryan's hypocrisy is astounding."

Even as national Republicans "vet" Ryan as a potential running mate for Mitt Romney, Zerban has been revealing the reality of a congressman who may talk the talk but who has never walked the walk. "Congressman Ryan fell down on the job, and is now trying to push the blame for his bad policy decisions onto President Obama," says Zerban. "Congressman Ryan had ten years in Congress -- almost all with a House Republican majority -- to reduce the deficit, prior to President Obama's election. He did nothing."

That's right.

If, by some chance, Paul Ryan were to become the Republican nominee for vice president, the whole country would be talking about his duplicity when it comes to the balancing of budgets.

Ryan's first vulnerability would be the legitimate concern about his willingness to rip apart the social safety net, under the guise of "reforms" that would undermine and eventually destroy Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

But under the serious scrutiny to which he would finally be subjected, Ryan would be revealed as something worse than a fiscal fabulist.

He would be revealed as a hypocrite of the highest order. Americans can handle hard truths and bold ideas. But they're not so good with hypocrisy.

And they wouldn't be so good with Paul Ryan.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

Nichols writes about politics (more...)
 

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You had this article all ready to go, didn't you? ... by Cate M on Friday, Aug 10, 2012 at 10:16:24 PM
The article, whenever it was written, truly expose... by Dennis Kaiser on Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 at 6:28:15 AM
...that anyone in the 99 percent that votes for ei... by Roman Berry on Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 at 5:35:11 PM
Word to your mother.  The thinking people are... by Don Caldarazzo on Monday, Aug 13, 2012 at 5:07:44 PM
The only thing missing was the jet fly in and the ... by Michael Shaw on Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 at 9:08:15 AM
you took the words right out of my mouth. I w... by jaydo on Sunday, Aug 12, 2012 at 12:28:56 PM
He made it and your article is wonderful!  Th... by Joan Kelly on Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 at 10:45:37 AM
got their first fling with military experience thi... by John Sanchez Jr. on Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 at 11:00:45 AM
The Ryan pick is political suicide for the republi... by Michael Shaw on Sunday, Aug 12, 2012 at 12:05:59 AM
Shameful how he twists Catholic Doctrine, even the... by Mark Ropel on Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 at 11:08:56 AM
sanguine about the choice of Ryan.  After dec... by JimZ on Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 at 11:15:00 AM
is cement the extreme radical right in support of ... by Michael Shaw on Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 at 11:48:15 PM
is the issue of legalized abortion.  With a t... by jaydo on Sunday, Aug 12, 2012 at 12:46:53 PM
With the choice of right-wing Paul Ryan for VP, I ... by Gary Kutcher on Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 at 11:34:21 AM
The Green Party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, is on t... by Paul from Potomac on Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 at 1:54:47 PM
But why hasn't the Green Party in the last twelve ... by Michael Shaw on Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 at 11:58:55 PM
Michael, correct me if I'm wrong, but according to... by Paul from Potomac on Sunday, Aug 12, 2012 at 8:19:58 PM
Each state party picks a set of electoral delegate... by David McCorquodale on Monday, Aug 13, 2012 at 8:43:17 AM
The necessity of winning 270 Electoral College vot... by Michael Shaw on Monday, Aug 13, 2012 at 11:15:03 AM
Jill Stein has her name on the ballots of 35 state... by Michael Shaw on Monday, Aug 13, 2012 at 6:39:31 PM
"The Green Party has Federal matching funds for t... by Paul from Potomac on Monday, Aug 13, 2012 at 4:55:26 PM
I have ever been accused of damaging the tradition... by Michael Shaw on Monday, Aug 13, 2012 at 6:42:51 PM
...to tell you that Jill Stein will win enough ele... by Paul from Potomac on Monday, Aug 13, 2012 at 8:51:05 PM
Until the green party has enough people in the con... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Aug 15, 2012 at 5:52:57 PM
Your reply above to Paul ignores what I previously... by David McCorquodale on Thursday, Aug 16, 2012 at 3:18:16 PM
So the Green Party has been organizing in the US f... by Gary Kutcher on Thursday, Aug 16, 2012 at 4:29:31 PM
Gary, I am not opposed to the Libertarians running... by David McCorquodale on Friday, Aug 17, 2012 at 7:29:00 AM
David, I was a leader in the Green Party for almos... by Gary Kutcher on Friday, Aug 17, 2012 at 9:53:22 AM
Gary,  I see you were a member of the Pacific... by David McCorquodale on Friday, Aug 17, 2012 at 3:28:40 PM
"Heard it here first"?  Look, I'm not naive. ... by David McCorquodale on Tuesday, Aug 14, 2012 at 8:03:14 AM
IE "I don't believe the Green Party will win a maj... by Michael Shaw on Tuesday, Aug 14, 2012 at 9:52:22 PM
that you "said it first".  I pointed out that... by David McCorquodale on Wednesday, Aug 15, 2012 at 7:23:34 AM
though that is what they should do. Read this Will... by Michael Shaw on Monday, Aug 13, 2012 at 11:01:12 AM
He nailed it. Real easy to blame "the Green Party"... by David McCorquodale on Monday, Aug 13, 2012 at 4:00:21 PM
there are still some definitive philosophical diff... by Michael Shaw on Saturday, Aug 18, 2012 at 11:53:28 AM
I believe the US first Black secretary of state, D... by Rehmat Khawaja on Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 at 11:45:06 AM
1.  Romney is a misogynist and he could not h... by Ilene Flannery Wells on Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 at 2:01:01 PM
"We never could have anticipated an enemy using ai... by Michael Shaw on Saturday, Aug 18, 2012 at 12:03:31 PM
Certified bum and hypocrite. While the media gush,... by Denny Chericone on Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 at 10:08:06 PM
who was born into the lap of wealth and luxury(but... by Michael Shaw on Sunday, Aug 12, 2012 at 12:15:33 AM
Paul Ann Rayndian Ryan is the glaring example of t... by Linda Laurin on Sunday, Aug 12, 2012 at 9:39:52 AM
Ayn Rand was Ryan's hero. He was the guy who said ... by Michael Shaw on Monday, Aug 13, 2012 at 11:05:49 AM
have a track record of treating Ryan as a thoughtf... by JimZ on Sunday, Aug 12, 2012 at 10:17:40 AM
''''are the American people as stupid as they thin... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Aug 15, 2012 at 5:58:40 PM