Paul Ryan will be remembered for little, but the central part of his legacy will be failing to do a single thing to curb Donald Trump or the white supremacist elements of his party. He only did that in order to achieve the other part of his legacy: A career marked by successfully lying to the credulous and willing media, presenting a carefully-curated image of a Smart, Serious Fiscal Hawk who cares about the national debt and the deficit, and is interested in Smart, Serious Proposals to bring it down.
Ryan, who is retiring at the end of the year, is showing no signs of abandoning this project in his last days in office. In what I hope was an intentional juxtaposition by the writer, the AP reported from an interview Ryan gave today with the Washington Post:
As for his regrets, Ryan cited not paying off the national debt and failing to pass an immigration overhaul. If those can be solved, Ryan said “we will have a great 21st century.”
Still, Ryan said he thought “history is going to be very good to this majority” because of the tax overhaul passed under his leadership and increased funding for the military. Critics have said the tax changes benefit the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.
Ryan regrets not paying off the national debt, but thinks history will celebrate his leadership for the class warfare tax plan he passed. That plan, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, will add $1.9 trillion to the debt over the next 11 years.
Those two things are not compatible. You cannot care about the debt and regret not doing anything about it, and also think a tax plan that adds almost two trillion American dollars to that debt is good. Ryan is not stupid, so he must be lying, either about thinking the tax plan was good—haha, no—or about caring about not paying off the national debt.
It is the second one. Ryan is lying when he says he gives a shit about the national debt.
It’s been obvious for years and years that Ryan’s fiscal hawk act was bullshit, designed to bamboozle the media and cowardly Democrats who embraced the rhetoric that he never followed himself. He never cared about fixing the debt; he just wants to make life harder for poor people by cutting Medicaid and Medicare and Social Security, and I’m sure he’s mad he didn’t get to do that himself. So why not, on his way out, continue to lie, as baldly and blatantly and offensively as he can? It’s worked so far.
Paul Ryan is a liar and a vicious son of a bitch. And whatever his next job is— probably a “consultant” for the American Petroleum Institute or Koch Industries or Raytheon—he will be richly rewarded for it. That’s how Washington works.