Paul Ryan, Serious Numbers Geek (Aside From His Fuzzy Numbers)
04/08/2011 by Peter Hart
The uncritical coverage of Paul Ryan's budget plan continues. In the new issue of Time magazine, Michael Crowley and Jay Newton-Small tell us that Ryan is "the new face of federal frugality":
Just 41 years old, with jet black hair and a touch of Eagle Scout to him, the House Budget Committee chairman unveiled an ambitious package of huge budget cuts designed to dig the country out of its crippling debt crisis. For Ryan, reining in spending is nothing less than an act of patriotic valor.
Valor. Eagle Scout. Great hair!
Ryan's critics have noted that his plan actually does very little about the "crippling debt crisis." Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo reports that the Congressional Budget Office's score of the plan "finds that by the end of the 10-year budget window, public debt will actually be higher than it would be if the GOP just did nothing."
The Time reporters add:
He may be a modern political star, but there's still something a little old-fashioned about Ryan, right down to his crow's-beak nose. Maybe it's the premature seriousness that comes from finding your father dead of a heart attack when you were 16 and then helping to care for a grandmother with Alzheimer's disease.
Now a married father of three, Ryan is a PowerPoint fanatic with an almost unsettling fluency in the fine print of massive budget documents. "I love the field of economics," Ryan says. "I have a knack for numbers. And I've just delved into this issue for my adult life, basically."
Deep into the piece, after these tributes to Ryan's wonkery, comes this parenthetical:
(He's also been criticized for peddling fuzzy math and rosy projections. A Washington Post factcheck deemed his budget full of "dubious assertions, questionable assumptions and fishy figures.")
Huh. I thought he had "an almost unsettling fluency in the fine print of massive budget documents"?
By placing the factcheck so deep into the piece, and in parentheses, Time is all but saying that it doesn't matter what the facts are about Paul Ryan's plan. What's more important is that he's a patriotic number-cruncher.
With great hair!