Paul Ryan and his media base

PAUL RYAN AND HIS MEDIA BASE…. For a while, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was so beloved by the media establishment that he referred to political reporters as his “base.” In time, as McCain adopted new personas, his relationship with the media strained, and his “base” moved on.

As it turns out, they fell into the arms of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), a right-wing lawmaker reporters in D.C. love to love.

Last week, apropos of nothing, the New York Times emphasized what “a respected voice on fiscal issues” Ryan is. This week, ABC News ran a puff piece on Ryan that was so shameless, the network’s airtime should probably count as an in-kind contribution to the Republican’s re-election campaign.

Honestly, watch the clip; it’s only two minutes. Diane Sawyer lauds Ryan as “a rebel with a cause,” Jonathan Karl completely ignores the substance of Ryan’s budget plan, and the piece literally equates the far-right congressman with the earnest, common-sense hero of the movie, “Dave.”

If Ryan’s family and staff come together to craft a two-minute segment celebrating the congressman, they might have felt embarrassed about a segment this laudatory. Worse, the segment included only one example of the kind of cut Ryan likes and the example is “exactly the opposite of what Ryan (and the story) proclaim.”

It’s probably too late at this point to help reporters understand, but they’ve chosen the wrong hero (again). We’re talking about a radical with monetary views so extreme, Matt Yglesias recently characterized Ryan as “a dangerous madman,” a description that didn’t seem especially hyperbolic.

And then there are his budget views. Jamison Foser explained the other day, “Ryan produced a budget proposal that would take about 50 years to balance the budget — except that it wouldn’t do so even then, as Ryan told CBO to base its assessment of the budget on the assumption that tax revenues would remain the same, even though the budget included costly tax cuts.”

It’s the kind of detail that tends to go unmentioned by his adoring media fans. Paul Ryan’s budget blueprint is a right-wing fantasy — slashing taxes on the rich while raising taxes for everyone else. The plan calls for privatizing Social Security and gutting Medicare, and yet fails miserably in its intended goal — cutting the deficit. As Paul Krugman recently explained, the Ryan plan “is a fraud that makes no useful contribution to the debate over America’s fiscal future.”

But Ryan nevertheless wins awards for fiscal responsibility, and ABC equates him with movie heroes, working under the assumption that the Ayn Rand acolyte knows what he’s talking about. He doesn’t.