‘The drivers of our debt’

I’m aware of the rules that dictate all Very Serious People consider House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as knowledgeable and credible, but quotes like these should end the facade.

“We need to address the drivers of our debt. The whole reason we’re running into this debt limit so soon is because of the spending spree that has occurred over the last two years.”

I know the media loves this guy, but it’s statements like these that reinforce suspicions that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

This falls well outside the realm of subjective questions. Sure, I’m a lefty and Paul Ryan’s a far-right Republican, so it stands to reason we’re going to have very different opinions. But in a case like this, opinions are irrelevant.

We know exactly what the “the drivers of our debt” are, and the numbers are so unambiguous, one is left to wonder whether Paul Ryan is a liar or a fool.

The facts are hard to ignore and impossible to dispute. As the CBPP explained, “[T]he economic downturn, President Bush’s tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years.”

As for “the spending spree that has occurred over the last two years,” it doesn’t exist. Ryan’s assessment is nonsense.

Also note, Ryan’s argument is in the context of raising the debt ceiling. But even if Ryan’s plan became law this afternoon, we’d still have to raise the debt ceiling. Blaming this on an imaginary “spending spree” is absurd.

Remember, as far as the political world is concerned, Paul Ryan is the best Republicans have to offer. He’s not some random back-bencher; he’s the GOP’s go-to guy on fiscal issues.

And yet, Ryan’s agenda is basically an arithmetic-challenged fraud, and he apparently has no idea what the “the drivers of our debt” are.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.