He focuses in on the most valuable part of the Ryan interview with Brit Hume of Fox News. The veteran journalist focused on when Republican budget proposals would be in balance. As Miller notes, Ryan hides behind his 'wonkiness' to try to avoid answering the difficult questions:
Ryan (R-Wis.) tried to cloak himself in his supposedly charming “wonky-ness” to sidestep two simple questions from Hume: When does Mitt Romney’s budget reach balance, and when does Ryan’s own budget plan do the same? Ryan pirouetted because Hume’s queries threatened to expose his famed “fiscal conservatism” as a fraud.Please keep reading.
Miller puts this in context of the 1990s, when the Gingrich proposal theoretically reached balance in 7 years, which forced Clinton into a proposal which reached balance in 10 years, then considered the outer acceptable limit. (It is worth noting that the balance claimed including counting the surplus being collected on Social Security, but that is irrelevant to this discussion).
When the question is about Romney's proposal, Ryan is in trouble:
Since Ryan knows that Romney’s bare sketch of a plan never reaches balance, he stumbles momentarily, before trying to move the conversation to his comfortable talking points about Romney’s goal of reducing spending to historic norms as a share of GDP.But Hume is having nothing of that, coming back again to the original question:
“I get that,” Hume says. “But what about balance?”Ryan tried to hide behind wonkiness, saying the plan hasn't been scored.
He then tries to pivot to his own plan, which he begins to claim does balance the budget - but not until the 2030s, which he does not want to have to admit.
You should read all of the analysis and commentary by Miller, who himself urges you to watch the relevant 2 minutes of the interview as exceprted in this CNN piece - that section of video should go viral, because it gives the lie to Ryan as a real fiscal conservative.
In his penultimate paragraph, Miller explains why this issue and how easily Ryan is exposed is important:
The point: Democrats can’t afford to let Ryan/Romney’s phony image as superior fiscal stewards survive. And Hume’s interview shows how swiftly this charade can be exposed if Democrats and the press zero in on simple questions like Hume’s. If the press is primed to cover this more intelligently, such queries will also expose the big Republican lie — the idea that you can balance the budget as the baby boomers age without taxes rising.Miller has a concern expressed in his final sentence:
But if Democrats spend all their energy on Medicare — and don’t knock out the GOP ticket’s undeserved reputation for fiscal responsibility — they’ll find themselves in unexpected peril as the race heads to the fall.I think he overplays that concern, because if properly explained the Republican position on Medicare is sufficient to win the Presidential election - after all, there is NO path to 270 electoral votes for Romney if he loses the 29 in Florida. But the Ryan budget passed by the House can be used to attack not just on Medicare but also on fiscal responsibility, and that, friends, may be the key to regaining the House of Representatives, and thus effective control of the making of governmental policy (provided continued Democratic control of the Senate also means eliminating or severe restriction of the filibuster and of holds).
Miller is not normally a person whose opinions get wide distribution. I thought this column was worthy of attention, which is why I posted this piece.
And besides, the idea of a "tell" is surely something that will, given America's fascination with poker, grab the attention of many people.
Have a nice day.