Home / General / Is Our Media Learning Anything About Paul Ryan? (SPOILER: No.) [UPDATED}

Is Our Media Learning Anything About Paul Ryan? (SPOILER: No.) [UPDATED}


This is an actual headline in one of the country’s most prestigious political magazines:

Well, now that you mention it, under Ryan’s leadership the Republican Party has made it a priority to create a lot more poverty! Needless to say, this is not the direction the article takes:

Not two weeks into the new congressional session, Paul Ryan is enjoying a moment—and not just because he scraped off that scraggly excuse for a “hunting beard” he’d been sporting. (I cannot overstate how relieved other members of Congress were to see it go.) Committed to refocusing House Republicans on Big Ideas—going, in his own words, “propositional” rather than “oppositional”—the new speaker has come blazing out of the gate with a much-ballyhooed push to get his party talking about poverty. The policies he fancies include expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and consolidating federal funding for existing programs into “opportunity grants” managed by the states. But before he can worry about the fine print, Ryan must first gin up political enthusiasm for the broader proposition.

To state the obvious, the boldfaced policy proposal is a mechanism for allowing red states to massively cut antipoverty spending. This is their only purpose. Other than this and the gestures at EITC expansion (yeah, sure) no other policy items are cited.

The punchline:

Pretty much everyone agrees that nothing much will get passed in this presidential-election year, but they say it’s still vital to have the speaker spotlighting his anti-poverty agenda—not just to get voters accustomed to the idea of the GOP caring about the issue, but also to get Republican officials comfortable with it. Conservatives must actively debunk the “false narrative” that they don’t care about the poor, argues Jimmy Kemp, president of the Jack Kemp Foundation and son of the late, anti-poverty crusading congressman. “It’s psychologically wise for the speaker to make the case to everyone, including his conference, that, ‘Hey, these are conservative issues, and we need to be talking about them.’”

You might wonder how the discussion of Ryan’s “anti-poverty agenda” squares with the fact that he wants to pass a yooge upper-class tax cut and increased defense spending. You might really wonder how the idea that Ryan has an “anti-poverty agenda” can be squared with the fact that he just passed legislation cutting $880 billion in antipoverty spending. And you’ll keep wondering because she just doesn’t mention those things at all. I mean, he visited soup kitchens!

I swear Ryan could pass a budget cutting every dime of federal anti-poverty spending and journos would still write articles asking he will be able to get other Republicans to join his anti-poverty crusade. He could presumably do this and start ordering murders of random homeless people and still maintain his reputation. It’s bulletproof, because the existence of Reasonable Republicans is iron pundit law.


…Sorry, as multiple commenters noted, I didn’t catch the date. Obviously, Cottle could not have known about the precise details of the AHCA. Since Ryan has consistently supported both repealing the ACA and savage cuts to antipoverty programs to pay for upper-class tax cuts, however, my broader point stands.

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