Paul Ryan’s Reputation Was Never Deserved

Brian Beutler - Paul Ryan's ReputationIt’s easy to forget, after the horrifying Republican National Convention we just witnessed, and after Clint Eastwood lectured a chair at the RNC four years ago, that [Paul] Ryan’s VP-acceptance speech in 2012 was censured by the often-adoring press for being unusually misleading. He blamed President Barack Obama for the closure of a General Motors plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin, that had been shuttered before Obama became president; for doing “exactly nothing” to implement the findings of a debt commission Ryan himself had driven to gridlock; and for several other tendentious or false things. When confronted with skepticism from the press, he hid behind bad spin and technicality and deception.

Back in 2011, when House Republicans were trying to extort fiscal policy concessions from Obama, Ryan used his intellectual cachet to claim that briefly defaulting on the national debt — for “a day or two or three or four” — would be harmless if it ultimately forced Obama to accede to GOP demands.

Ryan and his colleagues precipitated a sharp drop in consumer confidence. Their antics alone threatened to send the economy into recession, and if they had actually defaulted on the debt, per Ryan’s guidance, the economic carnage could have been far graver.

Today, the stewards of Ryan’s reputation are aghast when Trump says he might refuse to meet the country’s obligations to creditors, but they mostly overlooked Ryan’s comments five years ago, and he’s never really walked them back. It took his ascension to the House speakership, when the onus to raise the debt limit was falling on him, for his office to admit he now believes the debt limit deadline set by the Treasury Department “is the date.” But if Hillary Clinton becomes president, it’s easy to imagine him reverting to his prior, more reckless view.

—Brian Beutler
Nobody Should Be Surprised That Paul Ryan Is Supporting Donald Trump

Minnesota 02 (MN-02): Will Politeness Win? Will Trumpism Lose?

Angie Craig MN-02Minnesota’s Second Congressional District (MN-02) is open because Representative John Kline (R) has decided to go do more interesting things than be a congressman.

Currently the district is fairly well to do with an average income of $76,000. So naturally all of the people running are millionaires.  Yes, that includes the Democrat.  It is considered a battleground district since it has gone for Obama at the top of the ticket, even though it has gone Republican for about a decade at the House level.

The usual happenstance of a crowded field of Republicans fighting for the seat was the situation here with four Republicans battling it out. Two were simply regular Republicans, while two are very much of the Tea Party type.  What was different this time was that the Republican establishment fell in line behind one of the extremists: Jason Lewis.  He was the clear front runner, and managed to line up most of the major endorsements while having the highest name recognition. Not surprisingly, he ended up winning.

Republicans in the MN-02 Primary

Jason Lewis MN-02The primary ran last Tuesday. But the field was interesting.

First, was former state senator and candidate for Minnesota Secretary of State, John Howe. He only served a single term as a state senator. But that did make him stand out: he had actually won elected office. None of the others have. He was largely self-funding, but that wasn’t a problem. Except that he lost with less than 14% of the vote.

Second, was Darlene Miller. She is a business owner. Thus, she had some advantages in being one of the demigods of the Republicans: a “job creator.” But otherwise, she didn’t offer much. She did have outgoing Congressman Kline’s endorsement for MN-02. It wasn’t enough, but she did manage to get almost 31% of the vote.

Third, was Matthew Erickson whose main selling point was his extremism. He served as a spokesman for Trump’s campaign as well as the volunteer coordinator for the state party. According to him, he was running because other politicians are cowards. Erickson does have some “interesting claims.” For example: he thinks he’s basically JFK:

I am basically John F Kennedy. I look in the mirror and I ask myself each morning “Matthew David Erickson, what can you do for your country today?” And the answer comes back, “I will do my goll-danged darnedest.”

Erickson’s goll-danged darnedest garnering him less than 7% of the vote.

Fourth, was Jason Lewis, the winner with 49% of the vote. His background is in radio. He’s had a local show going back 25 years. And he has been a bit outspoken in his right wing views, to say the least.  His main focus has been taxes where he takes a fairly libertarian line.

Democrats in the MN-02 Primary

The Democrats started with a three person primary, but two of the candidates withdrew. That left just Angie Craig. She is a former medical executive.  She has done very well with fundraising and has major endorsements from all of the usual liberal groups as well as the Democratic political establishment.

The MN-02 General Election

This race is rather like the national presidential race.  Trump’s struggles thus far have moved this race from one that would clearly lean Republican to a toss-up.

The question is how tightly Craig will be able to duct tape Trump to Lewis. If this is a wave year, and there are signs pointing to this, MN-02 will be one of the 29 minimum seats that the Democrats need to pick up to flip the House.