The wrong ‘totem of credibility’

In last night’s debate for Republican presidential candidates, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s name came up literally 10 times. Jon Chait noted that the right-wing Wisconsinite has “personally become a totem — a sort of mini-Reagan figure, frequently cited as credible by others and never attacked.”

And Paul Krugman notes how “weird” that is, given Ryan’s complete lack of credibility: “His plan was junk, full of magic asterisks, containing absurd projections for future spending, and directing us to a ridiculous Heritage analysis for support. He’s been peddling completely false budget claims. This is a totem of credibility?”

The problem, I’m afraid, is that Ryan’s reckless dishonesty is a well-kept secret. He has a Fox News piece today on economic policy, for example, that’s almost comically deceptive. Kate Conway calls it a “Misinformation Tour De Force.”

Ignoring that Obama inherited the worst recession since the Great Depression — and that his Recovery Act helped prevent an even greater economic downturn — Ryan asserted that the Recovery Act has “failed to create jobs.” To this end, Ryan also deceptively cited lackluster May jobs numbers and a report that preceded Obama’s inauguration.

Ryan also attacked the president’s signature policies, including financial and health care reform, baselessly asserting that they didn’t fix “the problems they were intended to address.” He touted his own plan to ‘save Medicare‘ (even though the GOP budget plan would dismantle the Medicare system) and falsely claimed that President Obama doesn’t have any plan to address the program.

He threw around meaningless catch words like “uncertainty” to attack Obama’s tax policy, and misleadingly stated that the U.S.’s corporate tax rate is the highest in the developed world, when in fact the effective tax rate is lower than many other developed countries. And despite the numerous tax cuts Obama and Democrats passed over Republican objections, Ryan attacked the president for tax hikes on job creators.

In all sincerity, it’s difficult to find anything in his Fox News column that isn’t misleading.

After this remarkably dishonest piece from Ryan, it’s tempting to think, “Well, that’s certainly a credibility killer. Who’s going to believe the right-wing congressman after he’s been caught spewing such falsehoods in a print piece?”

Except that never happens. Republicans will continue to hold Paul Ryan out as the ultimate arbiter of budgets and arithmetic, and pundits like Ruth Marcus and David Brooks will keep telling us that Paul Ryan is an honest wonk liberals should spend more time listening to.

It’s rather frustrating given what a hack the guy is.