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Krugman writes: "...what's interesting is the cult that has grown up around Mr. Ryan - and in particular the way self-proclaimed centrists elevated him into an icon of fiscal responsibility, and even now can't seem to let go of their fantasy."

Portrait, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, 06/15/09. (photo: Fred R. Conrad/NYT)
Portrait, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, 06/15/09. (photo: Fred R. Conrad/NYT)

The Ryan Cult

By Paul Krugman, The New York Times

09 April 12


So, can we talk about the Paul Ryan phenomenon?

And yes, I mean the phenomenon, not the man. Mr. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee and the principal author of the last two Congressional Republican budget proposals, isn't especially interesting. He's a garden-variety modern G.O.P. extremist, an Ayn Rand devotee who believes that the answer to all problems is to cut taxes on the rich and slash benefits for the poor and middle class.

No, what's interesting is the cult that has grown up around Mr. Ryan - and in particular the way self-proclaimed centrists elevated him into an icon of fiscal responsibility, and even now can't seem to let go of their fantasy.

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+97 # Barbara K 2012-04-09 11:27
There is nothing good about Ryan. He is out to destroy all but the wealthy and you better believe he's trying really hard to do just that. His budget could have been done by a kindergartener for all the sense it has. It's a travesty and would be a joke if it were not so senseless and scary and destructive to the normal people of this country. Get him out of our congress.
-38 # phantomww 2012-04-09 21:17
Maybe we should compare Ryan's budget with the Senate budget from Reid. Oh wait, there is no Senate budget, hasn't been one in over 3 years. hmmm Ok, let's look at Obama's last 2 budgets that were voted on. How many Dems voted for his budgets? Answer: ZERO No dems in the senate the previous year and no dems in the house this year. Must be a REALLY BAD budget to not get a SINGLE democrat to vote for it. So go ahead and slam Ryan. At least he has a budget to slam.
+70 # mjc 2012-04-09 11:42
Ryan, as the "mild mannered" GOP extremist, has this air of respectability about him that doesn't permit most of us to examine his proposals too closely. It is clear that those that are wealthy deserve their wealth...withou t taxation and that the state owes nothing in particular to those living in poverty...unles s it is a job with one of the creative, private corporations and a job not earning too much income; just enough to be taxed by the IRS. This was one of Krugman's best uncoverings of America's leaders.
+52 # MainStreetMentor 2012-04-09 13:33
“… uncoverings of America’s leaders”. I maintain that Mr. Ryan is NOT a “leader”, I’m not sure he even qualifies as a “follower”. George W. Bush; Richard “Dick” Cheney; Donald Rumsfeld; Condoleezza Rice; Mitchell McConnell; John Boehner … none of these individuals are “leaders”. They are, have been, and will always remain nothing more than “mouth piece” members of the kakistocracy that has become the RepubTeacan Party. They are incompetent, incapable and insulting to the legacy of our Congress and government is the BEST I can say for them. None of the former Bush administration has been asked to publicly endorse ANY of their party’s presidential candidates. That should speak volumes to the American People.
+75 # LeeBlack 2012-04-09 12:22
Gullible and fantasy seem to be the key words - it is wishful thinking. If cutting taxes on the wealthy helped create jobs we wouldn't be in this mess.
+25 # dick 2012-04-09 12:48
Ryan's proposals should be helpful to Dems, but I do wish he'd rant & rave a bit more. Sometimes the medium is the message & he ACTS reasonable on camera. Can't someone put hot pepper or killer bees or those nasty biting red ants in his pants? He's another one accumulating enough rope to hang himself with grotesque proposals & really grotesque lies. Send $$ to Wisc, Mass, Neb, RSN, then run the Virgin Mary against Ryan in Nov.
+13 # AMLLLLL 2012-04-09 16:01
Better to laugh at the ridiculously lazy 'fact gathering' that Mr. Ryan must have toiled over for a full day. If he's their financial heavyweight, I'd like to see the fluffers.
+29 # worldviewer 2012-04-09 12:53
I hope Mr. Krugman doesn't really believe that all "centrists" (or moderates) are gullible.
Perhaps the best-known example we have of a "centrist" is Abraham Lincoln who, even after Southern Confederates had begun the Civil War, understood that he remained the president of the entire nation. And that after the war was won he would have to bring the South back into the union--"with malice toward none and with charity towards all" I believe were his words.
Today the radical right has pushed to so far an extreme because they are trying to eliminate every possibility of finding common ground--and they have thrown the apparent "center" to the far right. But what they are doing is gravely endangering those foundations which are healthy on which this country was built.
A centrist who is a realist--like Lincoln was--recognizes that you can never force everyone to agree; that there will always be those who are more progressive or more conservative, but that we can work together and find solutions that include the insights of more than one position.
+17 # AMLLLLL 2012-04-09 16:05
Even Lincoln could not mollify the Rebs. They still exist; killing minority citizens at will while claiming self-defense, claiming the South will rise again, sending creeps like Rand Paul to represent them under the thinly veiled racist stances.

Makes my skin crawl.
+19 # skipwkk 2012-04-09 12:53
The main thing I would like to say is "do the politicians that vote on various bills and laws really try to put themselves in the other persons shoes". I do realize politicians think they are above the Law and don't need to follow rules of truth and fair play (golden rule!!!!).
They need to know US little people may not take a great deal more.
+43 # szq5777 2012-04-09 13:08
As a poor person I know that republicans are my enemy. Paul Ryan is a vicious right-wing idiot who is out to destroy the poor and middle class. I can just pray to almighty God that he is kicked out of congress soon.I will proudly be voting for Obama in November.
+22 # tclose 2012-04-09 13:32
Once again, Prof. Krugman has provided plain-spoken insight into the sometimes arcane world of economics, and the sleight of hand the GOP uses to keep its followers believing in the koolaid they are drinking.
It has always been a mystery to me how this unassuming Congressman, with such an extremist position on budgeting, could attain such an important voice within the GOP. Thanks for your well-reasoned analysis, Paul.
+3 # AMLLLLL 2012-04-09 16:08
tclose, it's so easy when you are mathmatically challenged; therefore you are impressed when someone like Ryan can add:2+2=5.
+9 # AMLLLLL 2012-04-09 20:05
I meant the GOP is mathmatically challenged. Every time they hold up a folder it seems to be devoid of anything substantial.
+25 # cordleycoit 2012-04-09 13:38
Isn't it strange cults grow up around the right wingers mainly in economics. Uncle Milty and the clowns in Chicago Helicopter Ben etc. All voodoo seven twenty four. All their programs rely on starving the poor, battering the women and semiconducting the children. The gentry and their dalliances become news and we move back to feudalism.
+19 # James38 2012-04-09 13:38
"...and even now can't seem to let go of their fantasy."
I think there is a direct connection between the fact that so many of the hard-liner Ayn Rand following (whether they know it or not) cut-the-social- programs-and-cu t-the-taxes-on- the-rich crowd want to do that AND are "devout" Christians. Both of these activities are based on a fantasy that has been mistaken for reality.
I suppose due to poor education in basic logical thought, many people simply have not noticed that “believing” in something without proof has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not the thing is true. To use an obvious example, one can believe until blue in the face that the Moon is made of green cheese, but it obstinately remains rocks. No matter how comforting or appealing it may be to believe in whatever religious idea into which you have been programmed, the idea remains an unproven fantasy. You can say that god says this or that, but that assumes the unproven idea that whatever you call god is real. A belief of this sort is nothing more or less than an opinion on a pedestal. This is why we have separation of church and state. If religious ideas are allowed into the sphere of government, any “Religious Authority” can say that god told him whatever, and therefore we all must agree and obey. This is what the Taliban do, and this is why it is proper to call all persons who want to impose their religious opinions on the Citizens of the USA the American Taliban.
+18 # James38 2012-04-09 13:40

The Government deals with decisions that affect all citizens, and US Citizens come in all types from religious to agnostic to atheist. A President or any government leader on any level must respect all citizens equally. Religious opinions must be kept private, and out of the process of government decisions. To do otherwise is to invite chaos.

The hard-line far-right insistence on cutting government programs and taxes on the rich is also a religion, meaning that its logic is unproven. Persons steeped in the erroneous idea that faith in something means it is real simply don’t notice the breakdown of logic. In fact, every time those ideas have been tried, they have resulted in chaos. The mindless hungry beast of unregulated free-market capitalism was let off the leash in the 1920’s and resulted in the Great Depression. We learned the lesson, and regulated financial institutions and created humane public programs. Those policies underlay the economic stability and growth that endured for many years. If you wish to speak in religious terms, those were Christian and compassionate policies that also happened to be logical. Then toward the end of the century, the powers of the financial world began to chafe at the bit, and insist that “excess” regulations were hampering their ability to make more profit.
+14 # AMLLLLL 2012-04-09 16:24
I just heard a pointy headed 'conservative' declare that no one ever got a job from a poor person, so why not lower taxes.

What he overlooks is that the business owner depends on us poor shmoes to walk into his shop, thereby creating DEMAND, which has been largely missing these last 4 years, and therefore stunting the employment rate.
+21 # James38 2012-04-09 13:43

They were right, and so were the regulations. However, greed overcame historical reality, and once again the regulations were lifted. Economic chaos once again resulted, and we are struggling again to recover.

The human mind is a wonderful thing, but some ideas can poison it. The worst poison is the combination of faith and belief in the service of greed and temporary power. Any one of these is deadly, but the combination is a killer drug of the very worst sort. It only appears seductive and desirable to minds that have been dulled by excess devotion to faith and deprived of historical education.

An older Mae West, responding to a young reporter’s question, said, “Sonny, I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. (pause) Rich is better” Undoubtedly true enough, but since most of us will never be rich, the question becomes, “How do we extend the basic benefits of ‘rich’ to everyone?” The answer is simple. We limit the 1% to a reasonable share of societies’ wealth, based on real contributions and real taxation. We do this understanding that nobody gets rich by themselves. Every fortune is based on the basic services society provides, including security, utilities, roads and transportation systems, and education.

We develop a universal health care system – which has as one of its benefits saving the society a lot of money.
+21 # James38 2012-04-09 13:45

We eliminate the Drug War, and get the US out of the hyper-morality craziness that makes the US have the highest percentage of its citizens in prison of any country in the World. We fund and guarantee retirement and social security, and perhaps most important among these essentials, we fund education as a top priority until every student has access to a good quality of education. We include job training and counseling for those who need it, and treatment programs for those with substance abuse or other problems. This has been shown far more successful than prison and punishment, and far less expensive. It also greatly improves public health at a low cost.

We will note that in doing all of these things, we are fulfilling the most basic goals of any reasonable religious philosophy, which can be summarized as “practical compassion”. Not a grain of faith or belief is necessary. Just clear thought and logic.
+22 # lcarrier 2012-04-09 14:26
Paul Ryan is cut from the same cloth as Scott Walker of Wisconsin. They are both spear-carriers for the 1%. By now people should have seen through anyone who thinks Ayn Rand had a "philosophy." Besides writing two really bad unrealistic novels, she is essentially a cult figure who didn't practice what she preached. (She took government largesse.)

Let's hope that the electorate tosses Ryan out on his tin ear in November.
+7 # AMLLLLL 2012-04-09 16:26
Not only that; so-called Christian minds follow her every thought, regardless of the fact that she was an avowed ATHEIST.
+16 # BradFromSalem 2012-04-09 14:34
For some reason the Centrists have bought in totally to the notion that SS and Medicare / Medicaid are the biggest fiscal problem we face. And even when they support tax increases on the wealthy, they insist that any sane plan must also take away people's retirement and health care.

Shouldn't that be the last thing we cut? Shouldn't we explore raising taxes, increasing tariffs or some other mechanism that levels trade, enforce labor laws and possibly make them relevant to a mixed job force instead of one that is either manufacturing or farming? Shouldn't we look at closing loopholes especially ones based on how money is earned. I could probably come up with more, but the big one is defense. Do we have to piss all that money down the drain? And after those options and more are exhausted and after reevaluating each one to make sure we get the optimal return, then we cut SS and Medicare / Medicaid. However, I am willing to bet we won't have to.

Ryan is a fraud, but he has managed to control the Budget conversation. Has anyone even mentioned the Progressive Caucus' Budget For All? It contains a lot more possibilities than Ryan's and it evaluates to a lower deficit after 10 years, not an increase.
+9 # James38 2012-04-09 20:04
Ryan is a fraud, yes, and a puppet. There are a few puppet masters pulling his and other's strings. Grover Norquist, the fake godlet of the Randies, the Koch brothers, Condi and Shrubbie the bobbsey twins of US War criminals and their uncle Dicky, the list goes on.

They make noise, they puff and blow, but they all need to be ignored. They are just shills for the heartless super-rich and the planet destroying oil and coal and natural gas cabals. They offer nothing in the way of constructive thought. They provide propaganda full of lies (Fracking is safe, clean coal is coming, we need the tar sand oil, nuclear power is dangerous, Natural gas is a wonderful new clean fuel - all lies.)

They are so addicted to money and their ideas that they will blindly destroy the only planet we all have in their purblind struggle to get MORE.
+7 # BradFromSalem 2012-04-10 06:17
Ignoring the lies is easy for those of us that know and understand that the ENTIRE Conservative philosophy is based on lies. The challenge that each and every Progressive in America faces is to inform the majority of the American public that has fell under the spell of the Conservatives two primary lies.
The first is the fallacy that there actually exists a Left Wing media bias, the second, which follows directly from that is the doctrine of false equivalencies.

That forms the foundation from which all their lies rest on.
+12 # Eliza D 2012-04-09 14:41
Any teachers/profes sors out there? How about throwing a little civics lesson into any and all classrooms-such as how the middle class is facing extinction and has sunk to serfdom thanks to "droit-de-seign eur lords" such as Ryan, Boehner,et. al? Many of us can still teach what we want some of the time without being strip-searched- yet! Educating the ipod,ipad generation about the power their representatives have is key.
+12 # wwway 2012-04-09 15:00
I wish the 99% kept up the progressive cause as much as the 1% kept loyalty to what would become Ayn Rand's Objectivism. In his novel, The Iron Heel (1907), Jack London pointed out that the 1% control the wealth and the media and that the onus for democracy is on the 99%. The 1% has kept the 99% pre-occupied with petty culture war issues and fear mongering so I'm very concerned about the "gullible." I think of independents as gullible and fickle because they are easily swayed over one or two issues and never remain constant enough to anything worthy. That's what happened in 2010 election cycle. I was astonished that support for health care reform dropped from 70% to 40% just over "death panels." When is the 99% going to own their democracy? They're in the process of loosing it right now if they don't wake up.
+14 # kitster 2012-04-09 15:53
give us a break! the only thing ryan knows about a budget is what he reads in republican't talking point memos.

the only job he's ever had...outside of misrepresenting his constituents... is communications major domo for the family construction company. what's up with that?

and mitt romney...who by his bio has been a numbers guy all his working life...buys ryan's bs?

well, i don't buy it...and neither should any other american voter who can add and subtract!!!

but what do you expect from a pathetic pack of pachies?

these trickle-down troglodytes can't find their heinies with both hands...let alone any solutions to any of uncle sam's problems.
+10 # Kimberly999 2012-04-09 17:01
Mr. Ryan is one of those confused souls who worships Ayn Rand and claims to be a Christian. Jesus told the wealthy to give half of what they owned to the poor to get into heaven. Ryan is just another supply-side goon who keeps repackaging the same old fantasy.
+6 # Rick Levy 2012-04-09 19:12
To paraphrase Lincoln, God must love under-taxed, wealthy Republicans. He made so many of them.
+5 # rockieball 2012-04-10 07:51
More Illogic from the Republicons. They thump the bible everyday. Their Presidential hopefuls all say they got a calling from God. Yet they treat Ayn Rand's writings as if it was a part of the bible. Yet she was an ATHEIST.
+4 # lilpat126 2012-04-10 14:37
On Easter I had the privilege of hosting an Easter Egg Hunt for 6 children aged 6 and under. These children did not all know each other before that day. One thing the adults noticed was that they were giving eggs they had found to each other. No one said "MINE", NO one cried,or lost their temper. If only these lessons could be applied to the "Adults" in this country. Hard lesson to learn isn't it, If you have more give some of it to someone who does not have as much or any. If these little ones can keep this great attitude we will be OK as a country.

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