'Hard-Line' Herszenhorn, NY Times Reporter, Takes Up Cudgels Against Paul Ryan Once Again

October 16th, 2015 10:13 AM

New York Times reporter David "hard-line" Herszenhorn is making hostile labeling of conservatives a bad habit, especially in his post-Boehner reporting. The shock resignation of the Speaker of the House gave Times reporters like Herszenhorn an excuse to target the "far-right" conservatives who had supposedly hounded the speaker out of office, and granting Boehner, never a popular figure in Times-land, some retrospective honor.

Thursday's Times story on the reluctant Speaker-elect Rep. Paul Ryan, "Devotion to Fiscal Policy May Drive Ryan to Not Take House Speaker's Job," hid hostility behind a benign headline, including three "hard-line" adjectives and one "hard-right," from a newspaper that rarely if ever refers to American Democrats as "hard-left," and worked in adjectives like "harsh," "absurdist," and "cruel," all the while marveling at Republicans who found Ryan insufficiently committed to conservatism.

By the second paragraph, Herszenhorn was suggesting Ryan's free-market economic philosophy was "absurd," using generic "Democrats" to unload the insults.

First, it was called the Roadmap for America’s Future. Later, it was the Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s Promise. The next installment was Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal.

Each one could be called the Ryan Plan, for short, or the Ryan Budget: a single-minded -- Democrats would say absurdist -- quest by Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, to drastically cut federal spending and taxes, transform Medicare essentially into a voucher program, partly privatize Social Security and abolish the corporate income tax, the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax.

Those sweeping budget proposals, the product of a young, heavy-metal-loving policy wonk’s obsession with transforming American fiscal policy, catapulted Mr. Ryan to prominence within the Republican Party. That led to his selection as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running mate in 2012. Ultimately, the plans went nowhere as a result of fierce criticism not only from Democrats but also many economists who said his numbers simply did not add up.


Each of the fiscal blueprints Mr. Ryan presented show him to be among his party’s most ardent budget hawks, but as the country contemplates his credentials for speaker, he finds himself in the position of having hard-liners say he is not conservative enough for them, while even moderate Democrats find his views far too conservative.

“It’s almost amazing to see some parts of the right say Paul Ryan is not conservative enough,” said former Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, who was regarded as a fiscal conservative among his Democratic colleagues and served with Mr. Ryan on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, a bipartisan panel that failed to get Congress to adopt long-term budget compromises in 2010.

Herszenhorn portrayed Ryan's proposals through a liberal prism:

Last year, as the chairman of the House Budget Committee, Mr. Ryan presented a fiscal plan that would have cut $5 trillion in spending over a decade, with major cuts in spending on programs for the poor, including Medicaid and food stamps.

His plan also envisioned repealing the Affordable Care Act, under which more than 16 million people have gained health insurance since 2010, and it called for increases in military spending but sharp reductions in nearly all other discretionary domestic programs.


Critics said Mr. Ryan’s plan would have been a disaster for low-income Americans.

“Paul Ryan’s new ‘Path to Prosperity’ is, sadly, anything but that for most Americans,” Robert Greenstein, the president of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal budget analysis institute, said at the time. “Affluent Americans would do quite well. But for tens of millions of others, the Ryan plan is a path to more adversity.”

Mr. Greenstein cited cuts in Pell grants for college students, as well as in food stamps and Medicaid, as among the harshest proposals in the plan.

He returned to former Sen. Conrad, who declared his disappointment with Ryan:

“The reason he gave was there wasn’t enough cuts to Medicare,” Mr. Conrad continued. “And there were savings in Medicare, but it wasn’t the kind of draconian cuts that he later proposed in his own budgets. And those budgets didn’t go anywhere, and I would suggest they won’t go anywhere, because they just go too far.”

Even the little praise Herszenhorn mustered was backhanded, injecting loaded liberal language ("cruel") into the debate while supposedly refuting such crass characterizations.

[Former Sen. Judd] Gregg disputed the notion that Mr. Ryan’s proposed cuts were cruel. “It’s not hardhearted to make Social Security and Medicare solvent, and the way you make them solvent are the ways Ryan has suggested, which don’t affect low-income or even middle-income folks,” he said.