In September 2011, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman told CNN's Gloria Borger that Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare voucher plan "would kill people, no question." As you can imagine, he's not terribly happy about Romney picking Ryan as his running mate.
Krugman can't even bear fellow liberals offering grudging praise to Ryan. discussing on a Monday morning blog post "a lamentable but revealing column by William Saletan, which illustrates perfectly how the essentially ludicrous Paul Ryan has gotten so far – namely, by playing to the gullibility of self-proclaimed centrists, who want to show their 'balance' by finding a conservative to praise."
Saletan's sin? Writing this:
Ryan is a real fiscal conservative. He isn’t just another Tea-Party ideologue spouting dogma about less government and the magic of free enterprise. He has actually crunched the numbers and laid out long-term budget proposals.
Krugman tried to rebut Saletan:
Look, Ryan hasn’t “crunched the numbers”; he has just scribbled some stuff down, without checking at all to see if it makes sense. He asserts that he can cut taxes without net loss of revenue by closing unspecified loopholes; he asserts that he can cut discretionary spending to levels not seen since Calvin Coolidge, without saying how; he asserts that he can convert Medicare to a voucher system, with much lower spending than now projected, without even a hint of how this is supposed to work. This is just a fantasy, not a serious policy proposal.
So why does Saletan believe otherwise? Has he crunched the numbers himself? Of course not. What he’s doing – and what the whole Beltway media crowd has done – is to slot Ryan into a role someone is supposed to be playing in their political play, that of the thoughtful, serious conservative wonk. In reality, Ryan is nothing like that; he’s a hard-core conservative, with a voting record as far right as Michelle Bachman’s, who has shown no competence at all on the numbers thing.
Krugman followed up Monday afternoon explaining how the vain, gullible media is furthering the myth of Paul Ryan (really):
So, let me clarify what I believe is really going on in the choice of Paul Ryan as VP nominee. It is not about satisfying the conservative base, which was motivated anyway by Obama-hatred; it is not about refocusing on the issues, because R&R are both determined to avoid providing any of the crucial specifics about their plans. It is -- as Jonathan Chait also seems to understand -- about exploiting the gullibility and vanity of the news media, in much the same way that George W. Bush did in 2000.
Krugman criticized Ryan for "his flaky numbers (and actually very hard-line stance on social issues)" and said Romney's pick was targeting "a few hundred at most editors, reporters, programmers, and pundits....Mitt Romney isn’t seeking a debate on the issues; on the contrary, he’s betting that your gullibility and vanity will let him avoid a debate on the issues, including the issue of his own fitness for the presidency."
Krugman's Saturday afternoon post, on the day of the announcement, was even harsher:
Mark Thoma reviews selected pieces I’ve written about Ryan; he is, in fact, a big fraud, who doesn’t care at all about fiscal responsibility, and whose policy proposals are sloppy as well as dishonest. Of course, this means that he’ll fit in to the Romney campaign just fine.