“Courage”: Fox Lauds Ryan For Budget That Economic Experts Call “Grossly Irresponsible”

Fox News figures have hailed GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's “courage” for “heroically and gutsily tak[ing] on these enormous entitlement programs” in his most recent budget proposal. But economic experts have said that Ryan's plan is “grossly irresponsible” and “all smoke and mirrors.” Fox's praise for Ryan's budget echoes the network's long history of touting him and his policy proposals.

Fox Figures Hail Ryan's “Courage” For Releasing Budget Proposal

Fox's Bill Hemmer: Ryan Releasing Budget Plan “Is Going To Go Down As The Single Most Important Event In Government History In Our Lifetimes.” On the March 21 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, Fox host Bill Hemmer said: “I think what happened yesterday is going to go down as the single most important event in government history in our lifetimes, and that is when Paul Ryan came out with his budget plan”:

HEMMER: I think what happened yesterday is going to go down as the single most important event in government history in our lifetimes, and that is when Paul Ryan came out with his budget plan. And I'm not suggesting it's going to pass, but what I am saying is a year from now or five years from now or, god forbid, 10 years from now, when we address the problems that he talked about yesterday, there's going to be hell to pay in this country, and we're going to have to make enormous sacrifices. [Fox News Radio, Kilmeade & Friends, 3/21/12, via Media Matters]

Fox Host Brian Kilmeade: “I've Got To Give Paul Ryan A 'C' For Courage.” On the March 20 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade said, “I've got to give Paul Ryan a 'C' for courage” for releasing a “forward-leaning budget proposal” that would be criticized by Democrats. From Fox & Friends:

KILMEADE: I've got to give Paul Ryan a 'C' for courage, and [Rep.] Dave Camp has a C in his last name already so I'm not going to give it to him. But together they went out and put together a forward-leaning - a forward-leaning budget proposal, which I'm sure is going to get people on the other side saying, “Look how mean they are, and look how partisan they are.” But what I think he's doing - and you know would better than me, [guest co-host] Melissa [Francis] - but he's attacking the major problems that are facing this country, entitlements, and he's also attacking Medicare and our tax structure. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/20/21]

Fox Regular Steve Moore: “Hats Off To Paul Ryan” For Having “Heroically And Gutsily Taken On” Entitlements. On the March 20 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, Wall Street Journal economics writer and Fox regular guest Steve Moore said:

MOORE: First of all, hats off to Paul Ryan. This is a guy who has heroically and gutsily taken on these enormous entitlement programs and the enormous debt that's grown by $5 trillion over the last four years. You know, he's not a popular guy in Washington right now, because he does want to cut back on some of these sacred cow programs like Medicare and Medicaid and food stamps. But I think we all - but I think almost all Americans realize we can't continue on this debt path of borrowing a trillion-and-a-half dollars a year. So, he's the first politician in Washington in a long time Jenna - and I've been in this city a long time - that's actually been willing to take this bull by the horns and say, look, we've got to change, we've got to radically reform some of these entitlement programs and get this debt down. [Fox News, Happening Now, 3/20/12 via Media Matters]

Fox's Andrea Tantaros: “At Least Ryan Has The Courage To Start A Discussion About” Entitlement Spending. On the March 20 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Andrea Tantaros responded to co-host Bob Beckel's criticism of Ryan's plan by saying, “At least Ryan has some courage to start a discussion about it. ... You don't admire him for putting out something that's workable?” Watch:

[Fox News, The Five, 3/20/12]

Kilmeade To Ryan: “Everyone Respects The Work You're Doing.” During a March 21 interview with Ryan on Fox & Friends, Kilmeade said to Ryan, “Whether you like it or not -- whether you agree or not -- everyone respects the work you're doing and how you're attacking the debt and deficit.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/21/12 via Media Matters]

But Economic Experts Have Criticized Ryan's Plan As “Grossly Irresponsible” And “Smoke And Mirrors”

Economic Policy Institute: Ryan's Budget Plan Is “Grossly Irresponsible.” In a March 20 post, Economic Policy Institute (EPI) senior policy analyst Ethan Pollack wrote that Ryan's budget plan is “grossly irresponsible budget and economic policy”:

Today's unveiling of the House Republican budget resolution sees House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) rehashing the same failed budget priorities that were met with widespread criticism last year. Tax cuts for people who don't need them and economic insecurity for everyone else is grossly irresponsible budget and economic policy.


His proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and food assistance would all fall heavily on seniors, the disabled, and children. Ryan's budget is doubly bad for children because his proposed cuts to public investments (mostly infrastructure and education) would cause children to inherit a country with crumbling roads and bridges and to enter the labor market with fewer skills.

Reneging on commitments to seniors, the disabled, and younger generations because of an unwillingness--not an inability--to fund our social contract is a choice, not a necessity. Yet Ryan has once again unabashedly decided to aid the very fortunate at the expense of the rest of us--particularly the most vulnerable. [EPI, 3/20/12]

Citizens For Tax Justice Director Robert McIntyre: Ryan Budget Plan Is “All Smoke And Mirrors And No Deficit Reduction.” In a March 20 post on his Washington Post blog The Plum Line, Greg Sargent quoted Citizens for Tax Justice director Robert McIntyre as saying that Ryan's plan is “all smoke mirrors and no deficit reduction”:

Here's how McIntyre reached his conclusion. He compared the amounts the Ryan budget predicts in revenues and expenditures for fiscal years 2013-2022, with the same numbers the Congressional Budget Office projects under current law.

(The Ryan numbers are on page 87 of his budget; the CBO numbers are on page 20 of its recent fiscal outlook.)

Bottom line: By McIntyre's calculations, the Ryan budget cuts taxes by $4.3 trillion over 10 years; and it cuts spending by $4.2 trillion over the same period. Since the former is larger than the latter, the deficit would marginally go up.


“He thinks he can get the corporate and personal rate down to 25 percent and not lose money,” says McIntyre, whose group is liberal leaning but nonpartisan and doesn't hesitate to criticize Democrats. “He waves his hands, and says, `There must be something to cover it.'”

McIntyre says the plan would proably result in a “huge” deficit increase, even though there isn't enough information in the proposal to calculate it.

“This is all smoke mirrors and no deficit reduction,” McIntyre concludes. “Have you seen the cover? It's beautiful. That's the best part. But he is proposing to increase the budget deficit over the long term.” [The Washington Post, 3/20/12]

CBPP: Under Ryan's Plan, “Most Of The Federal Government Aside From Social Security, Health Care, And Defense Would Cease To Exist” By 2050. From an analysis of Ryan's plan by Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) president Robert Greenstein:

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's new budget plan specifies a long-term spending path under which, by 2050, most of the federal government aside from Social Security, health care, and defense would cease to exist, according to figures in a Congressional Budget Office analysis released today.

The CBO report, prepared at Chairman Ryan's request, shows that Ryan's budget path would shrink federal expenditures for everything other than Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and interest payments to just 3¾ percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2050. Since, as CBO notes, “spending for defense alone has not been lower than 3 percent of GDP in any year [since World War II]” and Ryan seeks a high level of defense spending -- he increases defense funding by $228 billion over the next ten years above the pre-sequestration baseline -- the rest of government would largely have to disappear. That includes everything from veterans' programs to medical and scientific research, highways, education, nearly all programs for low-income families and individuals other than Medicaid, national parks, border patrols, protection of food safety and the water supply, law enforcement, and the like. (In the same vein, CBO also notes that spending for everything other than Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest “has exceeded 8 percent of GDP in every year since World War II.”) [CBPP, 3/20/12]

Nobel Laureate Economist Paul Krugman: [O]ver The Medium Term ... It's A Plan To Savage The Poor While Giving Big Tax Breaks To The Rich." In a March 21 New York Times blog post, Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman wrote:

[Ryan's] latest budget proposal has received some harsh critiques. It calls for huge tax cuts, supposedly offset by closing loopholes and ending tax expenditures -- except that in a long report he fails to name a single tax expenditure that he would cut. It assumes drastic cuts in discretionary spending, basically eliminating everything except defense. And over the medium term, of course, it's a plan to savage the poor while giving big tax breaks to the rich.

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? [The New York Times, 3/21/12]

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich: “Guiding Principle” Of Ryan Plan Is To "[R]eward The Rich And Cut Off The Help To Anyone Who Needs It." In a March 21 post on The Huffington Post, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote:

The real contrast is over what the plan does for the rich and what it does to everyone else. It reduces the top individual and corporate tax rates to 25 percent. This would give the wealthiest Americans an average tax cut of at least $150,000 a year.

The money would come out of programs for the elderly, lower-middle families, and the poor.

Seniors would get subsidies to buy private health insurance or Medicare -- but the subsidies would be capped. So as medical costs increased, seniors would fall further and further behind.

Other cuts would come out of food stamps, Pell grants to offset the college tuition of kids from poor families, and scores of other programs that now help middle-income and the poor.


Not surprisingly, the Pentagon would be spared.

So what's the guiding principle here? Pure Social Darwinism. Reward the rich and cut off the help to anyone who needs it. [The Huffington Post, 3/21/12]

“He Might Be A Genius”: Fox's Praise Of Ryan's Budget Follows Network's Consistent Praise Of Ryan And His Policies

Brian Kilmeade: “He Might Be A Genius.” Following the release of Ryan's budget proposal in April 2011, Kilmeade said during the April 4, 2011, edition of Fox & Friends that Ryan “might be a genius, I'm pretty sure. He put together something that is so forward leaning, it's going to make people say, 'Wait a minute, we can't easily demagogue this, because it's so hard to define.' ” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/4/11, via Media Matters]

For more about economic experts criticizing Ryan's budget proposal in 2011, click here.

Sean Hannity: “I Love [Ryan's] Budget” -- These Are “Serious Cuts. These Are Serious Times.” On the April 5, 2011, edition of his show, Sean Hannity said of Ryan's budget: “I love the budget -- $6.2 trillion is serious cuts. These are serious times.” [Fox News, Hannity, 4/5/11, via Media Matters]

Fox Adopted GOP's “Mediscare” Talking Point To Defend Ryan Budget. In May 2011, Fox figures adopted the GOP talking point that Democrats were using "'Mediscare' Attacks" against Ryan's plan to replace Medicare with vouchers. [Media Matters, 5/25/11]

Fox's Dana Perino: Ryan “Stands Up On The Merits. He Knows More About” Medicare “Than Anybody.” On the May 25 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox contributor Dana Perino said that Ryan “stands up on the merits. He knows more about [Medicare] than anybody, and he says, 'I'm the only guy who's going to tell you the truth.'” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 5/25/11, via Media Matters]

Fox's Huddy: Ryan Is “Breaking A Lot Of Hearts” By “Announcing That He Is Not Going To Be Running For The White House.” On the August 23, 2011, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, guest co-host Juliet Huddy said that Ryan is “breaking a lot of hearts, announcing he is not going to be running for the White House.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/23/11, via Media Matters]

Fox Gave Ryan A Cake For His Birthday. On the January 29 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace an interview with Ryan by noting that “it's your birthday ... your 42nd birthday.” A Fox staffer then walked onto the set holding a sheet cake decorated with a large dollar sign. [Fox Broadcasting Co, Fox News Sunday, 1/29/12, via Media Matters]