In this space a while back, I reprised a favorite Paul Ryan moment:
At the House Budget Committee on Thursday, Chairman Paul Ryan produced another chart, this time from the Congressional Budget Office, with an even steeper straight line showing debt rising to 900 percent of GDP and rocketing off the graph circa 2075. America’s treasury secretary, Timmy Geithner the TurboTax Kid, thought the chart would have been even more hilarious if they’d run the numbers into the next millennium: “You could have taken it out to 3000 or to 4000” he chortled, to supportive titters from his aides. Has total societal collapse ever been such a non-stop laugh riot?
“Yeah, right.” replied Ryan. “We cut it off at the end of the century because the economy, according to the CBO, shuts down in 2027 on this path.”
The U.S. economy shuts down in 2027? Had you heard about that?
We could have used something like that last night. Once it became clear Joe Biden was going to respond to every serious Ryan point by dialing the smirk up another notch, the congressman should have thrown it back at him — on Libya, Iranian nukes, debt, or any of the other stuff Joe was yukking it up about. “I’m glad the vice president finds Medicare insolvency so funny. It’s not so funny if you’re the average American man, woman or child, whose share of the total debt is $185,000 and rising. But I guess if you’re inside the vice-presidential motorcade looking out it’s a real thigh-slapper, isn’t it? This may be a joke to you, Mr. Vice President, but it’s deadly serious to the millions of young Americans whose future you spent.” Etc.
Ryan isn’t a funny guy. But, when you’re earnest and a bit wonky and up against a smarmy third-rate lounge-act flashing his dentistry, you don’t have to be funny. A bit of righteous indignation would have helped.
An opportunity missed.