There are times when the political dialogue enacted on mainstream media is so off base, so outrageous, and so deceitfully framed that it simply blows the mind of anyone with even a few operating cells.
Today on Meet the Press was one of those days. We had David Gregory, who has now been officially outed as a paid mouthpiece for the Right, questioning if European austerity was really a failure and then tossing the ball to Paul Ryan, who chose his moment in the sun to pretend that he hasn’t been pushing for austerity, but he threatened us all with austerity unless we vote for Republicans.
The failure of austerity in Europe should be very familiar to Ryan, because it’s replaying itself in his home state courtesy of the same failed ideas. The end result of Gregory/Ryan’s foul play was an epic moving of the goal posts in the framing of budgetary discussions.
Watch here if you’ve not eaten lately courtesy of MSNBC:
Let’s see, shall we?
First, austerity has been proven a failure in Europe, and economists across the board recognize this as a fact. It was hardly a surprise to them, since they knew that before various governments enacted the drastic cuts to their human constituents while granting corporations tax cuts. The failure of austerity measures is not up for debate; it was never viewed as the first response to economic disaster.
Austerity may have its place, and it can be argued that some long -term austerity measures in conjunction with immediate government spending make sense (I’m not making that argument, but it’s a legitimate debate to be had). But no sane economist would suggest austerity first and only as a way out of a crumbling economy.
Really, if we’re honest about the broader issues, it’s not government spending that caused the global financial collapse—it was unregulated, corrupt, too big to fail corporate greed. Why is it that the media doesn’t want to even allow this obvious factor into a discussion on how to fix our economic problems?
But now that Gregory has done his job for the Right by questioning the fact that austerity has failed, he has nicely opened the door for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan to build on that lie.
Paul Ryan took the lie and broadened it out. Yes, according to Ryan, he is not pushing for austerity yet, and House Republicans did not push our country over the debt ceiling cliff for no reason other than their own glory. Naturally, Gregory did not point out that Ryan’s budget increased military spending, cut taxes for the rich and cut social programs for the people. In other words, Ryan’s “austerity” measures are only for the 99%.
Ryan said, “I would say they’ve also raised taxes. This is a cautionary tale of what happens when politicians who make a lot of empty promises end up running out of the ability to borrow money at cheap rates and now they are broken promises. It’s a cautionary tale of what will happen to us if we stay on the path we are on.” Yes, see, it’s the raised taxes that ruined everything… But Obama has lowered many taxes and extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich in order to get Republicans to agree to unemployment benefits, which by the way, are one of the most effective ways for government to spend during an economic crisis.
Of course no one interrupted Ryan to point out these inaccuracies and so he continued, “What we’re saying is let’s get on growth and prevent austerity. The whole premise of our budget is to preempt austerity by getting our borrowing under control, having tax reform for economic growth and preventing Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid from going bankrupt. That preempts austerity.”
This from the man whose budget privatized Medicare and cut Medicaid to the point of starvation? Now Ryan is for saving social programs? Also, notice how he brands tax give aways to the rich and subsidies to corporations as “tax reform.” Please. Tax reform would be if we reformed our tax code so that corporations actually had to pay the rate they are ostensibly charged. Tax give aways are not tax reforms. Paul Ryan is advocating for socialized losses for corporations and privatized austerity for the middle class and poor.
The implied threat by Ryan is that if Democrats can’t find a way to get any sort of relief passed for the American people (due to the obstructionism of the Republican Party) and as a result the economy continues to falter, well, you can kiss austerity hello. Paul Ryan nattering on about debt while hawking a budget that will increase the debt is almost laughable, but David Gregory letting him get away with it is just embarrassing for NBC.
Paul Ryan was also on Fox News this morning advocating for Mitt Romney’s budget, another debt-exploding missile of destruction. Romney’s budget will add $10.7 trillion to the debt. We note that Mitt Romney has refused to give us specifics about his budget, and the most we have learned about it came from a recording of a speech he thought was private.
Paul Ryan, who is hawking a budget that will leave us more in debt and cut our revenue to a mere 15% of GDP then dropped the huge lie that if Obama is re-elected, we will be in massive debt due to his policies. We are in debt because George W Bush and the Republicans left two of their wars off of the budget while they borrowed money to finance tax cuts for the wealthy. Romney and Ryan both are pushing for the same prescription for further disaster.
Perhaps Paul Ryan missed what happened under Bush to our debt, which is the same debt that Ryan and his Republican frat boys keep blaming on the President. Ryan is now pushing for the same Bush policies but on steroids, and claiming that if we don’t do things his way, we will be in massive debt and Big Daddy Ryan will have to punish us all (aka; the 99%) with austerity for being such bad boys and girls. Consider the goal posts moved even farther.
What made this even more egregious is that Ryan is attempting to paint his budget as moderate, because it includes government spending – just not to the degree that Obama’s does. Yes, the man who has threatened to kill Medicare said, “We’re not even really cutting spending. We’re simply slowing the rate of increase.”
Let us not forget that Newt Gingrich of all people criticized Ryan’s budget because of the changes to Medicare. Gingrich called Ryan’s budget “right wing social engineering,” saying, “I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering.”
See how Gregory assisted Ryan in moving the goal posts? Austerity is no longer austerity, it is now rebranded as “not really cutting spending.” According to Paul Ryan, austerity is something to threaten the people with if they don’t vote Republican (ironies abound), but it’s not happening now in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin and it doesn’t exist in the budget he’s been shilling.
According to Ryan, austerity is not the reason for Wisconsin’s worst in the nation job losses and it wasn’t blatant right wing social engineering when Republicans said they were giving tax breaks to corporations for the jobs – jobs that never appeared in Wisconsin. And it wasn’t even slightly embarrassing when the feds had to tell Scott Walker that he could not throw hundreds of thousands off of Medicaid.
Just weeks ago, Ryan was praising Scott Walker’s austerity measures as “courage,” saying “I think courage is on the ballot. What I mean by that is Governor (Scott) Walker went after some of the root causes of the structural problems in the state budget.” Of course, in order to justify those policies, Scott Walker had to change the way job numbers are measured in every other state and indeed, the nation as a whole, so that he could find a number that wasn’t such an epic failure, albeit misleading. Another moving of the goal posts. But the cherry on this disingenuous Ryan pie is the fact that when recall embattled Scott Walker wanted to boost the economy, he pledged to enact the same Obama policies that Ryan claims will lead to a huge debt.
Let them eat cake Paul Ryan is rebranding himself and his radical, right wing, social engineering for the wealthy “ideas” as middle of the road ideas. Cue the nodding complicity of the mainstream media as they appease their corporate masters.
David Gregory assisted another deceptive Republican talking point, and the people lose again. Today’s lie was brought to you by the “liberal media” at NBC.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.