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Paul Ryan
Paul Ryan is going to have to get used to rejection. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Paul Krugman asks the question (well, two questions) of the day following the release of Rep. Paul Ryan's budget:

So actually two questions: are people finally willing to concede that Ryan is not now and has never been remotely serious? And — I know this is probably far too much to ask — are they going to do a bit of soul-searching over how they got snookered by this obvious charlatan?
Given the track record of the Very Serious People in admitting fallibility, fat chance. But with this budget exposing Ryan as the unserious ideologue that he is, more of the VSP might be coming around to the idea that there's far more politics than policy in Ryan. (Well, except for wannabe VSP Chris Cillizza, who just seems to be a bit of a naif on the subject.)

Let's take the example of Fred Hiatt's Washington Post editorial board, the Village's usual arbiter of all things seriously Republican and important, as a barometer of potentially shifting attitudes toward Ryan the policy-maker. When he introduced last year's budget, the WaPo ed board called him "brave" for calling for Social Security reforms, even though they point out he doesn't do the work of specifying reforms, which is the basis for most of the criticism expressed in last year's editorial: He's willing to tackle all of the important issues, which is more (they say) than President Obama was willing to do, though they're not entirely comfortable with his approach.

What a difference a year makes. Consider the title of last year's editorial: "A first look at Rep. Ryan's budget plan." Now take a look at today's: "Paul Ryan's dangerous and intentionally vague budget plan." They're not cutting him any slack, this time.

He dangles the carrots of lower income and corporate tax rates. He says he would maintain tax revenue and in fact have it grow to 19 percent of the gross domestic product by 2025. Yet he fails to do the hard, and politically treacherous, work of specifying what deductions and credits he would eliminate in order to make all that happen. [...]

[M]ake no mistake: Mr. Ryan’s plan envisions, though again does not spell out, draconian spending cuts. [...] Mr. Ryan proposes a budget path that would leave government unable to fulfill essential functions. [...]

Mr. Ryan is right about the risks posed by the nation’s mounting debt. But we think his lopsided approach is dangerously wrong for the country. The blank spaces in his plan suggest he knows that many Americans would think so too.

Ryan has lost Fred Hiatt. That's at least a start.

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