So When's Ryan Going to Bring All This Supposed 'Substance?'

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan
Well thank God Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan to be his running mate. Now we can finally have a debate of substance. This has been the media's line -- as they've gone straight to covering Ryan's workout schedule. But don't blame the media entirely. They're only half-wrong on this one. They're being forced to cover a physical fitness infomercial because Paul Ryan is a man largely without substance. He pretends to be a serious, wonkish deepthinker -- and the media has inexplicably fallen for it -- but when you start examining the facts and cracking the numbers, the most substantial thing about Paul Ryan is his status as a P90X success story.

For example, consider this headline from Talking Points Memo -- "Paul Ryan Slams His Own Medicare Cuts In Ohio":

Speaking at his alma mater Miami University in Ohio, Paul Ryan slammed President Obama for adopting Medicare cuts that, until last week, were openly supported by Ryan himself.

“The president, I’m told, is talking about Medicare today,” Ryan said. “We want this debate.”

Ryan went on to say that “what I don’t think he’ll be telling people is that the president took $716 billion from the Medicare program — he raided it to pay for Obamacare.”

Like Romney, Ryan has pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which included $716 billion in savings taken from health care providers, not seniors’ benefits. But unlike Romney, Ryan wrote and passed two Republican budgets that kept the cuts in place.

The lesson here is just because you throw around the lingo doesn't make you an expert. If you use "string theory" and "special relativity" like buzzphrases, you're still not an astrophysicist. Paul Ryan can talk about growth and spending all he wants, but it doesn't make him an economist.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is playing the same game, telling us his Medicare plan is "the same if not identical" to Ryan's. This is yet another in a long series of polar reversals (i.e., "flip-flops") from Mittens.

So Barack Obama would trim $716 billion from Medicare and this is the worst thing ever! Meanwhile, Ryan and Romney would both cut Medicare by $716 billion and this is the height of responsibility. Starting to see the problem? This isn't substance -- it's not even close -- this is weak and inept spin. Steve Benen encapsulates the whole story down to five points:

1. President Obama extends new benefits to seniors on Medicare and finds savings in the system to strengthen Medicare's finances.

2. Paul Ryan approves of Obama's Medicare savings and incorporates them into his own budget plan.

3. Mitt Romney endorses Ryan's plan, which includes Obama's Medicare savings.

4. Romney changes his mind, and tries to argue he's for and against the Medicare savings at the same time (for them in Ryan's plan, against then in Obama's law).

And finally 5. Ryan denounces the Medicare savings he supports.

"So to review," Benen writes, "the Romney/Ryan ticket is for and against Obama's Medicare savings, for and against including Obama's Medicare savings in the Republican budget, for and against extending benefits for seniors, and for and against strengthening Medicare's finances -- all at the same time."

You'd get more substance and consistency from a chicken with her head cut off. And keep in mind that the press considers Ryan one of the very most serious conservatives out there. Depressingly, they're probably right; the current crop of GOP members are more interested in propaganda, spin, and winning partisan battles than governing. Ryan goes the extra mile by dressing up his BS in numbers he's largely pulled out of his butt, which makes him an economic genius by comparison. But when push comes to shove, we aren't going to get any substance out of these guys.


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