Remembering Representative Ryan’s Legacy

Brian Riedl writes:

I’ve never understood the intense hatred of Paul Ryan. Agree or disagree on policies — he treated people well (even when they didn’t return the favor), avoided demagoguery, good family man, no scandals. Thats what we should want out of elected officials.

Since Mr. Riedl has blocked me on twitter (apparently – I’m not a techie person), I’ll comment here.

We know that Paul Ryan engaged in inflation and counter-cyclical fiscal policy fear-mongering, foisted a “Path to Prosperity” blueprint for austerity that kept thousands unemployed longer than necessary. So yes, I despise a person for unecessarily causing harm to my fellow human being because they are wilfully blinded by ideology. People in positions of power need to be held to account for their decisions.

Here is a partial recap of Representative Ryan’s Weltanschauung.

Budgeting and Macro Responses



Inflation and Interest Rates



Economic History



42 thoughts on “Remembering Representative Ryan’s Legacy

  1. pgl

    When I lived on the Uppity East Side of Manhattan, I had to endure a few Paul Ryan fans at my favorite bar but one in particular really annoyed me with his pickup line about being “comfortably well off” and how he was a “commercial banker”. He once got a lot of undeserved praise for a question to Ryan starting off with bragging about being a commercial banker followed by the absurd statement “everyone agrees with us on economics”. Of course Ryan was all grins. This arrogant nobody’s question had something to do with not being a racist (I guess a white guy from North Carolina is supposed to get some sort of award for that?).

    I know – long story. But being a “nice guy” is no excuse for promoting utterly destructive and incredibly stupid economic policies. After all people tell me that Stephen Moore is a nice guy.

  2. pgl

    The Budgeting and Macro Responses posts are quite good but permit me to add one of my favorites from the Romney-Ryan 2012 campaign. It turns out that Ryan’s claim of eventually balancing the Federal budget was conditioned in part by getting total Federal purchases down to 3.5% of GDP. This included defense purchasing and Romney was promising to make sure that defense purchases would be restored to 4% of GDP.

    So Ryan was basically saying that we could cut nondefense Federal purchases from 2.5% of GDP to NEGATIVE 0.5 of GDP. Max Sawicky had this classic line about making big cuts to small government programs but I doubt even he ever envisioned the Republicans making cuts that drastic!

  3. pgl

    Just read Riedl’s other tweets such as “People with no idea how far he single-handedly pulled GOP econ policy to the right over 20 years. He was THE architect.”

    Riedl is stupid enough to think this is a good thing?

  4. 2slugbaits

    Since Trump doesn’t have any of those qualities that Brian Riedl admires, apparently he would agree that Trump is not the type of person we should want for our elected officials. As to Paul Ryan not being involved in any scandals, I seem to remember one little dust-up where he was caught letting lobbyists buy him $120 bottles of wine. Of course, it was all just a misunderstanding and he blamed it all on the inattentive waitress. What a stand up kinda guy.

    1. pgl

      We need to get your story right:

      They ordered two bottles of Jayer-Gilles 2004 Echezeaux Grand Cru, which cost $350 per bottle. And what was the policy debate back then?
      It was the same night reports started trickling out about President Obama pressing Congressional leaders to consider changes to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for GOP support for targeted tax increases … Feinberg, an economist by training, was even more appalled when the table ordered a second bottle. She quickly did the math and figured out that the $700 in wine the trio consumed over the course of 90 minutes amounted to more than the entire weekly income of a couple making minimum wage. “We were just stunned,” said Feinberg, who e-mailed TPM about her encounter later the same evening. “I was an economist so I started doing the envelope calculations and quickly figured out that those two bottles of wine was more than two-income working family making minimum wage earned in a week.” She was outraged that Ryan was consuming hundreds of dollars in wine while Congress was in the midst of intense debates over whether to cut seniors’ safety net, and she didn’t know whether Ryan or his companions was going to pay for the wine and whether the two men were lobbyists. She snapped a few shots with her cell phone to record the wine purchase.”

      You raised the issue of lobbyists but let’s expand on that:

      “Feinberg knew if the men were lobbyists, or worked for a firm or company that employs lobbyists, then paying for such expensive wine would be a violation of Congressional ethics rules barring members from accepting anything of value from lobbyists. Members can also run into trouble if they accept more than $100 per year from anyone – even a friend. “Basically, you have a situation in which the person who bought the meal says I bought it on the basis of a personal friendship and if it’s under $100, you have to show the history of the relationship and some degree of reciprocity,” said Meredith McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center. If the gift is more than $100, House rules require members to obtain written determination from the Ethics Committee on whether they can accept it or not.”

      Now for those who think Ryan is a nice guy, catch this:
      “After ending their meal and paying the check, Feinberg decided to give Ryan a piece of her mind. She approached the table and asked Ryan “how he could live with himself” sipping expensive wine while advocating for cuts to programs for seniors and the poor. Some verbal jousting between Feinberg and the other two men ensued. One of the two men said he had ordered the wine, was drinking it and paying for it. In hearing how much the wine cost, Ryan said only: “Is that how much it was?” The clash became especially heated when Feinberg asked the men if they were lobbyists. “F—- her,” one of them replied and stood up in a menacing way, according to Feinberg’s account. Feinberg said her husband then “puffed out his chest” in response before the manager and a waiter came over and Feinberg decided she had said her piece and it was time to leave.”

      Ryan also suggested Ms. Feinberg was drunk. I guess that is why Ryan and his friends suggested the F— her. Now Ryan insists his rude dinner mates who were loudly bashing liberals were not lobbyists but economists. But Ryan refuses to give their names. I have heard one of these rude economists turns out to be John Cochrane.

      1. Moses Herzog

        That Cochrane nugget at the last is interesting for more reasons than one. Now, my gut is not always the best gauge on people (Gabbard would be an example on that, I’m certain there’s a few others). But I do think I am pretty perceptive about people, and more often times than not my gut is correct. My radar sensors have always picked up a bit of a “creepers” factor with Cochrane, and similar to say a Joel Osteen, Cochrane is always trying to sell himself as a “guru”, and often on topics he has little understanding of—-fiscal policy being among them. The “Guru” schtick can go a long ways with the girls on a campus. Who else is he trying to impress with his “guru” schtick?? Paul Krugman?? Just saying……

        1. pgl

          Cochrane’s rant on the long-run sustainability of fiscal policy positions often violate basic finance. And the dude is supposed to be an expert on financial economics. Go figure!

          1. macroduck

            Being a “nice guy” was part of Ryan’s tool kit for making destructive, stupid economic policies acceptable to the public. That’s why he was given the speakership – the rest of the GOP was in bad odor with voters in the middle over budget schenanigans. Ryan’s nice guy schtick was meant to sell the policies pursued by his less amiable co-conspirators.

            Riedl, Brooks and the rest of their ilk will always tell us how nice the servants of the rich are.

          1. macroduck

            Isn’t Cochrane one of those guys who thinks Y=C+I+G is a behavioral equation? Or at least pretends to think it is.

    2. Moses Herzog

      I forgot about that. I bet there’s others we never heard of. Remember all the naughty finger waving by Republicans under Newt Gingrich right before a literal avalanche of Republican House Reps caught in adultery scandals. You can wager a lot of money there’s something there for someone who’s willing to do the digging.

      There’s no way a man who takes such great pleasure in duping the masses didn’t try to get 2-3 escapades past the wife.

  5. spencer

    His economic analysis and/or scheme was dishonest and he knew it.

    Typical republican did not understand the dishonesty the way he did and that makes him worse than averaged.

  6. Paul Mathis

    Rep. Ryan was not “willfully blinded by ideology.” He and Mitch were trying to make Obama a one term president by sabotaging the economy. They would have thrown us back into a recession in order to gain political power. Ryan knew what he was doing and he did not care about the consequences.

    1. Willie

      Exactly. Ryan was a cynical, opportunistic fraud of the worst kind. Full stop. Being a decent human in person does not undo the harm he did or the utter hypocrisy of his later positions once the GOP had power.

  7. noneconomist

    Good reminder of the days when lower interest rates would surely lead to inflation. Those were the days when the best inflation comparison was Zimbabwe. Somehow, a small African country with a GDP (currently) 3X less than Vermont’s or 5X less than Rhode Island’s or 8X less than New Mexico’s could be easily compared to the U.S. economy. A local” financial” columnist usually had a ready Zimbabwe reference and a warning that interest rates–even with double digit unemployment–posed dangers to our well being.
    And, good to note, that a couple of the usual current suspects were also tuned in to the same warnings. Now, naturally, they’re singing a different tune and are all in on lowering interest rates during the best–in their opinions–economy ever.
    Oh, and those ruinous deficits (the ones Ryan had a hand in helping to create and flourish). They were leading us on the road to destruction. Not to worry though, our leader has a plan to eliminate them. Remember: tax cuts always pay for themselves.

  8. Moses Herzog

    At least Ryan is not a phony that stages things for the cameras:

    Apparently Paul Ryan thinks you clean dishes that have already been cleaned. Maybe that’s how his wife encourages him to think “he’s a big boy now”. I wondered how donald trump got the idea to take credit for economic growth already in motion. You just act like you’ve cleaned dishes that have already been cleaned.

    Here’s a guy who used to “call out” Paul Ryan’s lies quite a bit. I was trying to find one of the many Paul Ryan town halls that had gone bad on him, but these old links seem to magically disappear somehow.

    Professor Kwak (I always just want to call him James, even though I don’t know him personally) is becoming more active again in media, so I’m glad to see that.

    1. Moses Herzog

      @ Professor Chinn
      How about inviting James Kwak to do a guest post on the blog?? I think it would be fun since he also hosted one of the blogs during the “golden era” of Economics blogging. I think just give him cart blanche to choose the topic of his choice and turn in his “homework” between now and November and I bet he comes up with a good one.

        1. Moses Herzog

          OMG!!!! How did I miss this one?? This must have been just right before I started reading here avidly again. I mean I have “off and on” read Econbrowser since about early 2009, but I’ve gone through about two phases where I never missed a post. I think this must have literally been weeks before I started reading avidly again. Yeah I will consume this, Thanks!!!!!

          1. pgl

            Check out the comments including this incredibly dumb one:

            Steven KopitsJanuary 20, 2017 at 3:39 pm

            Of course Stevie boy went on and on with his usual garbage. But then he was competing with some right wing dude named jbsay.

            Then again Stevie boy’s comments regarding Berkeley left me rolling on the floor laughing. And yes – I used to live in Berkeley.

  9. Moses Herzog

    I always think it’s interesting how certain Democratic gaffs stay up online forever, but that town hall where Ryan was crucified just disappears. There was also a good one where Ryan was booed by the entire AARP conference assembly. But I’m not gonna hunt for 2 years for something only to find they decided take down because it’s not meeting their narrative,

  10. Moses Herzog

    So, I’m watching the Nevada votes as they come in, and trying to decipher what it precludes on the national race. What we know right now is this: Buttigieg is still not getting either the black vote or the hispanic vote. In Nevada he’s getting the white vote of both college and non-college. What does that tell us?? Well for one, the white vote in Nevada is very different from the white vote in Deep South. White voters in the Deep South are not gonna vote for a homosexual candidate. This is pragmatic reality. So when he gets to Super Tuesday Buttigieg is going to be clobbered on both the white vote and the black vote. That leaves no avenue for him getting to the White House. He’s finished. Klobuchar is holding on for dear life. She has to do better than Warren (in essence take Warren’s votes) in the south. I don’t see it. Warren will be lucky if she can beat Bernie in her state of birth. Klobuchar can possibly take Warren’s votes in the South, but what would that equate to?? Something like 19% cumulative of the Deep South if ALL the stars miraculously align right for Klobuchar. In my opinion this leaves 4 candidates with an “open lane” to the White House:

    1. Sanders 45 % chance
    2. Biden 25% chance
    3. Warren 18% chance
    4. Bloomberg 8% chance
    4. Klobuchar 4% chance

    Steyer— OUT
    Gillibrand— OUT
    Buttigieg— OUT

    This concludes “Amateur Goofball Poli-Science From the Mid-Plains Rotunda” (All rights reserved to Cliff Clavin) for today.

    1. Moses Herzog

      Oops, 5 candidates. That was embarrassing. I think I added Bloomberg at the last moment before clicking “post comment” and then didn’t correct my numbering. I can count to 5 on most days, I swear. That’s 5 still in the race, I mean. 4% chance for Klobuchar, count her in/out how you like.

  11. Moses Herzog

    Well, I’m gonna save Menzie the headache of clicking on this if he trusts me. It’s a discussion by a Yale Professor on Medicare for all, and Buttigieg’s healthcare “plan” which doesn’t offer any savings, because under Buttigieg’s “plan” the pharmaceuticals and insurance companies will continue on screwing people over with any price they deem good for themselves:

  12. Moses Herzog

    For enquiring minds. I can’t seem to find a FREE link for the Lancet paper, so….. I will hunt some more to see. If Galvani wants the paper to gain popularity and media attention then it should be accessible without registering. Just saying……. She wants to help poor people and then asks for $36 for a paper?? The liberals wonder why Republicans make fun of “elitist liberals”. If regular people have to pay $36 for academic work they already partly paid for with taxes then they wonder why the guy in Wichita Kansas is afraid to join ObamaCare.

    1. Moses Herzog

      BTW, I got THREE papers on the coronavirus on the same damned site—same damned journal edition without registering and without paying $36 for any of the 3 papers. What does that tell you?? It should tell you what a crock of shit some people like Galvani are, when they pretend to be doing their work to help the little guy.

  13. pgl

    The Republican Party hits a new low:

    “The Republican National Committee is sending documents labeled “2020 Congressional District Census” to people in California and across the country just weeks before the start of the official nationwide count of the country’s population. Critics say the misleading mailers — in envelopes labeled “Do Not Destroy. Official Document” and including a lengthy questionnaire on blue-tinted paper similar to the type used by the real census — are designed to confuse people and possibly lower the response rate when the count begins in mid-March.”

    The RNC refuses to answer questions referring the matter to the Trump re-election committee:

    ‘Trump campaign spokeswoman Samantha Zager noted that the documents are marked as coming from the Republican National Committee. She would not discuss other details, including how many mailers were sent, where they were sent and why the committee called it a “census.”’

    Pass the buck – evade all questions. And yea ask the people getting these fake documents for campaign contributions. Your modern Republican Party!

    1. baffling

      if this is true, it is simply another example of a lack of integrity driven by conservatives like rick stryker. i bet rick would argue there is absolutely nothing wrong with sending out those false census forms. suppression is completely acceptable in this age of trump.

  14. Vasyl

    >avoided demagoguery
    As I remember his numbers never were even close to adding up. Blatantly, not just in a “well, who knows really” way.
    So it’s not clear how this can be called “avoided demagoguery”
    Since when blatant lies with a smile are called “treated people well”?

  15. Moses Herzog

    As I seem to remember some Brits saying on BBC “Maybe I’m being daft” but…….. I really fail to see what is the deal with the panic.
    And that’s what this is—- borderline panic. They’re not going to allow a quarantine in Alabama because they think it’s THAT contagious. I have a close relative who is an RN, I know about MERS spreading in hospitals. I LIVED the SARS epidemic in northeast China—- In a major coastal city. But the overreaction is pretty surprising to me. Folks, do NOT wear CHEAP paper masks (the crappy paper ones you see mainland Chinese nurses and doctors wearing on TV), get the good masks (N95 respirator masks are probably best, if you have a brain, you get the N95 respirator masks in your house BEFORE the TV advertiser try to create panic (Goes what I did people??) , wash your hands with realsoap (not Ponds or Oil of Olay, ok, is this rocket science for some of you?!?!?!) cough towards the floor or INTOyour elbow and guess what?? Life will go on. WOW.

    1. baffling

      as i noted on a previous post, i am of the opinion the coronavirus is going to be a major disruption for the next 12-24 months. today’s stock market reaction is only the beginning. guess what our market does once we get our own community outbreak in the us, just like in europe? we saw this play out with the spanish flu one hundred years ago. here is the sober demographic issue to take from coronavirus. the spanish flu attacked healthy young adults. coronavirus appears to be attacking, in especially vicious ways, the elderly and preexisting condition crowd. it will probably be a game changer. mers and sars were held in check early and because they were not easily transmitted from person to person. this new one seems to spread like the flu. it looks like there is about 1%-2% mortality rate (i think the current infected count is low-many have few symptoms). but that 2% seems to be targeting a specific demographic especially hard. i certainly hope i am wrong on this one, but i have a very bad feeling moving forward.

      moses, in think the big difference between what you experienced with sars and what we have now is a significantly more infections disease. it is not as lethal, but appears to be far more contagious. that is a big problem in a modern, interconnected world.

      1. Moses Herzog

        @ baffling
        I will give you that the death of Dr. Li Wenliang was troublesome, not just because Li Wenliang was a hero for the public, but because of his age—35 and dying. Of course one assumes someone around the age of 35 has a strong immune system, vs say a 5 year old, or a 65 year old. So Li Wenliang’s death got my attention for more than one reason. That being said, I think the reaction Is still overkill in the sense of telling people they cannot go to “state X” to be quarantined. In fact I live in a state that is one of the most ill-prepared to handle an outbreak or even something as simple as a quarantine, but I would support a quarantine for natives of my resident state returning home from say, any place in Hubei.

        You still have medical health professionals in China wearing cheap paper masks—which do nearly nothing to protect you when they get wet (or even dry for that matter). They don’t stop particles from entering your system–yet Chinese wear these joke masks in both regular times and during contagion times, and if I didn’t respect them and have some affection to the mainland Chinese people, I would literally laugh in their face when I see them wearing those things. But out of respect I used to hold my giggles back when seeing it on the street over there. At that time, this would be pre-2009, you NEVER saw soap in a public bathroom except in very expensive hotels or very expensive restaurants,—and I can tell you 98% of mainland Chinese don’t even use the soap when it’s provided—they think you can get disease from using a bar of soap just used by someone else—this is the culture—to put it as kindly as I can–the “culture” on hygiene—“You can get germs from someone else using ‘used’ bar soap.” It’s a literal laugh riot and you cannot tell them ANY different Do I know if it’s changes since 2009?? No I don’t—but guess what ALL my poker chips are saying has changed on that one.

        There is wise precaution and there is panic stupidity—telling natives of Alabama they can’t come back to Alabama to a managed quarantine is panic stupidity. Just like wearing a useless paper mask is, and not using bar soap in a public bathroom is. And yes, I still think the reaction on this has been way overkill (no pun intended).

        1. Moses Herzog

          By the way, I have told this story umpteen times online, to the point I’m tired of watching myself type it. But as it fits the context….. When I was teaching at a university in China, that university was a “special” university, which even though a long ways from Beijing was one of a very few that reported directly to the Beijing government. There were only a small handful that did. After SARS (it was really belated time to have a meeting looking back on it) all the foreigners there were asked to attend a meeting held by the President of the school. We were told in semi-stern terms attendance was “required”. This was the first time any of us foreigners had met the President of our university. We all knew the REAL reason the President held the meeting before even getting there, the president of the university didn’t and couldn’t care less or give a flying cow turd over if any foreigners died under his supervision. What he DID care about was “loss of face” and loss of his primo job if one of us died. At the end of this meeting they asked us “laowai” if we had ANY ideas on how to fight SARS. A colleague who I was good friends with (from Bangladesh, but “westernized” in Canada looked over at me and smiled. He asked me, looking at me and chuckling as quietly as he could without offending our hosts “Do you want me to tell them??” I said “You can, but they don’t care, and they’re not going to listen”. My Bangladesh friend told the President of the school “My friend _____ [ me ] thinks you should have soap provided, maybe wall dispenser soap, since hand soap seems to bother you guys, in all the restrooms on campus”. One of the interpreters told the President (all foreigners had their own interpreters, for each foreigner there was 1 interpreter of their own–there was no chance for “misinterpretation” due to the number of those versed in English). The president of our university slammed his hand down on the table and said DONE!!!! in Hollywood dramatic fashion. After I left that school after slightly over 1 year being there, I was still in China over 5 years later and would check back with friends—-as late as 5 years after I left the school, they had NEVER put soap or soap dispensers in any of the campus bathrooms. This was a four-year state university with a few graduate programs. And that my friends, is God’s truth, delivered to your computer monitor.

        2. baffling

          “telling natives of Alabama they can’t come back to Alabama to a managed quarantine is panic stupidity.”
          i could not agree more. fear and politics all rolled up in that one.
          but that does not change the fact that if we do not take serious steps dealing with coronavirus, there will be huge problems. cdc came out and said as much yesterday. in china, the disease spread rapidly (70,000 and i expect many more undocumented with minor symptoms) within a month. china did something we cannot do in the usa, they shut down hubei and effectively quarantined the rest of the country as well, for an entire month. this appears to be working, as the infection rate seems to be down dramatically in the past week. how long can this be sustained? i do not know. can such a nationwide quarantine, if that is what is necessary, be implemented in any other country in the world? i don’t think it can be done here. china sent large numbers of medical professionals to wuhan, and many have become infected. they cannot return to their host cities. places like beijing are currently understaffed. the gamble is that they will not be needed in beijing near term because they shut off the pipeline from wuhan. if that gamble fails, the rest of china is severely understaffed for a continued outbreak nationwide.

          i get daily updates from throughout china on what is going on. i am quite impressed with their ability, once it began, to dramatically alter the direction of coronavirus inside china. i do not think they are out of the woods yet, but they were not far from catastrophe a few weeks ago. some of the measures are draconian. some city streets are simply deserted, although it appears the delivery businesses are doing quite well (at least in volume, not sure if they are permitted to profit much). my concern is that it appears such draconian measures are required to control this virus. who else in the world has the political capital and willpower to execute in the same way? and if not, what is the outcome? hence my concern.

  16. baffling

    trump tweets we have the coronavirus under control in the usa, as he leaves his chief of staff off of airforce one during overseas trip for fears mulvaney’s cold may actually be coronavirus infection. trump was not happy when we repatriated sick citizens from the cruise ship last week. will be curious how the germophobe deals with this crisis.

    1. Moses Herzog

      The orange creature is not a germaphobe, it likes to TELL people it’s a germaphobe. There’s a huge difference. it also tells people it’s a non-racist. I hope you’re not buying that one at least. No “germaphobe” is going to stick its schlong into all the women this creature has. I mean, I suppose you could make the Howard Hughs argument here, but if you looked at some of his habits it really only spells out mental issues, not germaphobe. Germaphobes generally do not acquire syphilis or other type conditions I have heard trump had acquired. OK?? Germaphobes don’t do that.

      1. baffling

        i have had similar questions on his supposed phobia and actions. my conclusion is that he is an irrational character, which permits him to sleep with porn stars while simultaneously being a germophobe, as long as he feels he is controlling the situation. i think your mistake is allowing that his decision making is rational and coherent. i doubt that very much.

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