And Ryan’s shifting statistic: Bobby Jindal has been scolding his own GOP, calling it “the stupid party.”
In today’s column, Paul Krugman quotes Jindal making another bold-sounding statement: “We must not be the party that simply protects the well-off so they can keep their toys. We have to be the party that shows all Americans how they can thrive.”
As Krugman notes, Jindal’s snark about “the well-off” is new to the GOP. But uh-oh! Krugman notes what Jindal has now proposed for Louisiana—shifts in taxes which will benefit the well-off and penalize the poor and the middle class.
As Krugman notes, “similar plans are being pushed by a number of other Republican governors.” Why are they doing this, he asks, “just after an election in which the G.O.P. paid a price for its anti-populist stand?”
Krugman says he doesn’t know—and we don’t know either. But to us, some of Krugman’s speculations in this passage seem wrong or unfounded:
KRUGMAN (1/28/13): Well, I don’t have a full answer, but I think it’s important to understand the extent to which leading Republicans live in an intellectual bubble. They get their news from Fox and other captive media, they get their policy analysis from billionaire-financed right-wing think tanks, and they’re often blissfully unaware both of contrary evidence and of how their positions sound to outsiders.That first statement is certainly true of many Republican voters. Many such voters do “get their news from Fox” and from similar outlets.
So when Mr. Romney made his infamous “47 percent” remarks, he wasn’t, in his own mind, saying anything outrageous or even controversial. He was just repeating a view that has become increasingly dominant inside the right-wing bubble, namely that a large and ever-growing proportion of Americans won’t take responsibility for their own lives and are mooching off the hard-working wealthy.
But Bobby Jindal plainly isn’t the average Republican voter. According to the leading authority on his life, Jindal graduated from Brown at age 20 with honors in both parts of a double major—biology and public policy. Eschewing Harvard Med School and Yale Law, at both of which he'd been accepted, he then went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.
Jindal is plenty smart. He doesn’t “get his news from Fox.” Whatever he has decided to propose, he knows how to gather information.
Meanwhile, is Jindal “blissfully unaware” of the way his positions will sound to outsiders? We have no idea. Nor are we entirely sure that the electorate has arrived at the liberal position on these matters—or that mainstream journalists and pundits, Krugman excepted, will push the Republican governors about these regressive proposals.
So too with Romney. When he made his famous remark about the 47 percent, did he really believe his statement, as Krugman seems to assume? We have no idea. How do we know he wasn’t pandering to a roomful of donors—to people who do "get their news from Fox," people who presumably do believe that unpleasant twaddle?
We constantly say that Romney is fake. Then we assume he's sincere when he makes ridiculous comments.
One last comment, this time about Krugman’s views concerning Paul Ryan:
In the following passage, Krugman claims that Ryan is renouncing a previous position about the 60 percent. But does anyone know what Ryan’s statement ever meant in the first place?
KRUGMAN: Now, national politicians learned last year that this kind of talk plays badly with the public, so they’re trying to obscure their positions. Paul Ryan, for example, has lately made a transparently dishonest attempt to claim that when he spoke about “takers” living off the efforts of the “makers”—at one point he assigned 60 percent of Americans to the taker category—he wasn’t talking about people receiving Social Security and Medicare. (He was.)Ryan made that claim about the 60 percent back in 2010 (see text below). When he did, was he talking about recipients of Medicare and Social Security? We don’t know, and we don’t know why Krugman thinks he does.
In the 2012 campaign, did any interviewer ever ask Ryan what this earlier statement meant? If so, we haven’t seen the transcript of the exchange.
With that in mind, this is our question: Given the way our discourse works, what reason is there to think that Ryan ever “meant” anything at all? How do we know he wasn't just tossing out numbers—spouting?
Yesterday morning, we saw what happened on Meet the Press when Ryan made the world’s most ridiculous statement (see our previous post). David Gregory didn’t even bother to ask him about that ludicrous statement.
Did anybody ever ask him what he meant by that claim about the 60 percent? Did anyone ever try to find out if he meant anything at all?
Krugman has constantly said that Ryan’s a fake. What makes us think that this consummate fake “meant” anything at all?
The statement to which Krugman refers: Here’s the statement to which Krugman refers, based on this link from his column:
RYAN (6/7/10): Right now about 60 percent of the American people get more benefits in dollar value from the federal government than they pay back in taxes. So we're going to a majority of takers versus makers.That’s what Ryan said in June 2010—and he on;ly said that we're "going to" a majority of takers! But uh-oh! In November 2011, Ryan put the number of takers at only 30 percent! (Or something—just click here.)
Did Ryan “mean” anything either time? Or was he simply spouting? And of course, the ultimate question:
Given the way our press corps works, did anyone ever ask?