Rolls over and dies for Paul Ryan: Yesterday morning, David Gregory thoroughly failed to perform.
As he did, the latest completely ridiculous claim was broadcast to the nation.
The author of this ridiculous claim was Rep. Paul Ryan, Republican head of the House budget committee. Here’s how the nonsense went down:
Gregory played tape of Ryan saying the following: “According to the Tax Foundation, between 60 percent and 70 percent of Americans get more benefits from the federal government than they pay back in taxes. So we're getting toward a society where we have a net majority of takers versus makers.”
Gregory said that Ryan must be including programs like Medicare when he makes such a claim. He quoted Jonathan Chait, accusing Ryan of proposing “savage cuts to food stamps, children's health insurance, and other mitigations of suffering for the least fortunate.”
Ryan said that these claim are absurd—“straw men.”
Eventually, Gregory asked a thoroughlyly sensible question. When he did, he got an utterly ludicrous answer:
GREGORY: So which part of the safety net culture is sapping America's opportunity right now?Has anyone ever made a more ridiculous statement on TV? (We're not counting Pee Wee Herman.) According to Ryan, all the sound and fury in recent years has involved budget proposals so tiny as to be barely noticeable.
RYAN: So this is the point we keep making with benefits—take food stamps, for example. The benefits that [Obama] talks about, the changes we made, all we're saying is you have to actually be eligible for this program to receive this program. We need to target these things to the people who actually need them. And if our reforms on food stamps went through, they would have grown by 260 percent over the last decade instead of 270 percent. So when you call such reforms "savage," that, I think, does a disservice to the quality of debate we need to have.
What kinds of adjustments to federal spending has Ryan proposed? According to Ryan, his famous proposals amount to this: Under one of his proposals, spending on food assistance (“food stamps”) would have risen by 260 percent, not by the 270 percent which obtained under Obama!
That tiny sliver of difference in spending represents the Ryan revolution! Under Obama, federal food assistance has exploded. Under Ryan, federal spending would have exploded, but by a tiny bit less.
Surely, no one has ever made a more ridiculous statement on American television. Below, you see Ryan’s full statement—and the reaction from Gregory:
RYAN: So this is the point we keep making with benefits—take food stamps, for example. The benefits that he talks about, the changes we made, all we're saying is you have to actually be eligible for this program to receive this program. We need to target these things to the people who actually need them. And if our reforms on food stamps went through, they would have grown by 260 percent over the last decade instead of 270 percent. So when you call such reforms "savage," that, I think, does a disservice to the quality of debate we need to have. And what we're trying to achieve here is a system where you have that safety net to help people who cannot help themselves, but you have an opportunity society, education reform, economic growth, so that people can get on their feet and make the most of their lives and reach their potential, and that is what we're worried about losing in this country.Ryan made the world’s most ridiculous statement. In response, Gregory asked a fatuous question about the need for Washington pols to socialize together more.
GREGORY: One more on the budget, then I want to talk about a couple of other things. Do you feel like there's just a failure to get to know each other in Washington? To really understand each other? You haven't had much contact with the president over the last couple of years...
That wasn’t Gregory’s only failure to challenge strange statements by Ryan. But that particular statement was so absurd that it borders on bald-faced insanity.
How could anyone believe that Ryan’s proposals really amount to a marginal difference in runaway federal spending growth? Whatever you think of Ryan's proposals, his proposals have not looked like that!
You couldn’t make a more ridiculous statement. Gregory just let it pass.
Gregory gave Ryan a pass—and the career liberal world will give the same pass to Gregory. You won’t see him criticized tonight on liberal cable—and you wouldn’t have seen Bob Schieffer criticized had he accepted that same absurd statement from Ryan.
Our journalistic culture lies in ruins, and there you see one of the ways this has happened:
Multimillion-dollar journalists won’t challenge even the craziest statements. And when they compliantly fail to perform, their multimillion-dollar colleagues won’t say a word about that!