On Paul Ryan's Seriousness

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Lately, Rep. Paul Ryan has used this line as an attack on President Obama's deficit-reduction credentials:

"President Obama is going to have to decide. Is he an Erskine Bowles Democrat or a Nancy Pelosi Democrat?"

Of course, between the Affordable Care Act and her opposition to the Bush tax cuts, Nancy Pelosi has done far more for deficit reduction than either Ryan or Bowles. Ryan, especially, is in no place to criticize: Once you peel away his rhetoric of fiscal self-righteousness, you're left with a clear record of reckless spending. As a Republican during the Bush era, Ryan supported both sets of tax cuts, Medicare Part D, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, and opposed all attempts to provide a withdrawal date for the latter. Together, these policies are responsible for a huge portion of our current and structural deficits.

Paul Ryan had his chance to establish credibility on the deficit, and he refused. Instead, in the interest of most likely political ambition, he opted to throw his weight with the rest of his party. That's OK! He's a politician, and that's what they do. But, please, let's not call him serious.

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