We must love boisterous blowhards. As Americans, we are fixated on people who make loud, definitive declarations so we can stand behind them waving our oversized number-one foam-fingers chanting: “Go team! Win!” If you take away all the nebbishy number-crunching and bureaucracy – which is most of government – politics is all posturing and platitude landing.
There’s an entire industry (cable “news”) solely devoted to bold assertions as entertainment. This means we’re subjected to a colossal amount of failed predictions and prognostications. Yes, if both sides say they’re absolutely correct – at least one has to be wrong.
But as Americans we like the courage it takes to stand up and be inaccurate. We hate handwringing and pandering – it’s just not fun to watch. We still like that swagger of a sure-of-himself cowboy. We love to love them, and we love to hate them – which is why Republicans tout Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget plan as “brave” despite being unable to bring themselves to call it “pragmatic.”
Ryan, widely admitted Ayn Rand fanboy who seems unaware that she wrote libertarian-fantasy fiction while collecting social security and Medicare, is the new GOP “it” guy. After the State of the Union, Ryan gave the rebuttal (dubbed a Debbie Downer), and his name is what the GOP wants you to think of since they’ve been re-branded as the fiscally fretful Tea Party.
And, in homage to Republican titles meaning the opposite of what they’ll actually do (e.g., The Clean Skies Act), Ryan’s plan is titled, “The Path to Prosperity.”
In early April, Ryan wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed: “A study just released by the Heritage Center for Data Analysis projects that The Path to Prosperity will help create nearly one million new private-sector jobs next year, bring the unemployment rate down to 4% by 2015, and result in 2.5 million additional private-sector jobs in the last year of the decade. It spurs economic growth, with $1.5 trillion in additional real GDP over the decade. According to Heritage’s analysis, it would result in $1.1 trillion in higher wages and an average of $1,000 in additional family income each year.”
Ooh, a study! How authoritative! The Heritage Foundation also loved the Bush Tax Cuts. LOVED them. In April 2001, they released a study stating: “The Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis (CDA) conducted a dynamic simulation of the proposals in the President’s tax relief plan. The final results show that the Bush plan would significantly increase economic growth and family income while substantially reducing federal debt.”
The federal debt grew nearly $5 trillion under the Bush Administration.
And increased economic growth? New York Times’ economic journalist David Leonhardt wrote of the Bush Years, “In the four decades that the Census Bureau has been tracking household income, there has never before been a full decade in which median income failed to rise.”
1) Effectively pay off the federal debt;
2) Reduce the federal surplus by $1.4 trillion;
3) Substantially increase family income;
4) Save the entire Social Security surplus and increase personal savings;
5) Create more job opportunities.
They continued, “As Chart 1 shows, over 1.6 million more Americans would be working at the end of FY 2011…”
You don’t need to be an economist or have ever uttered the phrase “think tank” to know each point, to put it gently, did not come to fruition.
To their credit the Heritage Foundation still has the report on their website, which is what I call actually “brave.” Especially since their “analysis” was erroneous – completely and unequivocally wrong. The limp excuse that the Heritage Foundation couldn’t have accounted for 9/11 still doesn’t explain why they continue touting the same failed policies over and over again. This time – Ryan’s. Trickle-down, supply-side, make-the-rich-richer policies have not done what they were supposed to do. In fact and in “reality,” they’ve done just the opposite.
How will this time be different? It won’t.
But being louder and doubling down can effectively obscure the track record.