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General News    H3'ed 4/26/11

Paul Ryan's 'Spinal Tap' Tour

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From The Nation


We know how Paul Ryan's playing in Washington.
 
But how's he playing in Kenosha?
 
That's the question that will be answered today as the House Budget Committee chair makes a rare visit to the city that lost an auto plant and much of the rest of its industrial base under watch of the free-trade supporting congressman.
 
It could be a rude awakening for Wall Street's favorite son.

Ryan's gotten used to the limelight in Washington, where he has successfully peddled the fantasy that "America is broke." The Republican point-man on fiscal matters had even got some Democrats buying into a debate about how to slash the federal deficit that has as its endgame not a balanced budget but the radical restructuring of Medicare and Medicaid and the beginning of a process of privatizing Social Security.

Ryan's comfortable with the cheers from pundits and political allies, and the undue respect afforded his extreme notions by media outlets that aren't very good at covering two things: economics and politics. He was even invited to present the Republican response to the State of the Union address (only to be upstaged by the even-more factually challenge Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, R-Presidential Wannabee.)

Ryan's a rock star in Washington.

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But he's not playing so well at home, in southeast Wisconsin's 1st district.

His spring recess tour on the towns was supposed to be a triumphal return of a hometown hero turned sudden celebrity. Instead, the tour has the feel of those dismal dates played by the aging rockers in the movie Spinal Tap.

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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.

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