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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Let’s talk budget! Yes, the wonky wonderland of the federal budget, with page after page of numbers — what fun, eh?

No. Most people would prefer a root canal to a budget discussion (indeed, I’ve heard that some dentists use a recording of budget numbers to anesthetize their root-canal patients — everything from the neck up quickly goes numb). But Paul Ryan is different.

The GOP’s vice presidential nominee is touted as Mr. Budget, a guy who gets excited by running his fingers through fiscal things. That’s why the Washington cognoscenti have declared him to be “serious,” rather than just another political opportunist riding the right-wing wave of tea party ridiculousness.

Being branded as “serious” means never having to admit you’re a flim-flam man. Thus, the widely ballyhooed Ryan Budget is called “honest” and “responsible” by insiders who obviously haven’t run the numbers on it.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, however, has tallied Ryan’s budgetary giveaways to the rich and take-backs from the middle-class and the poor. Far from balancing the federal budget, as the self-proclaimed deficit hawk claims, the analysts found that Ryan’s plan increases the federal deficit. And not by a little, but by about $2.5 trillion! So, yes, he is serious — serious as a snakebite.

Then there was Ryan’s explosive admission recently that the budget plan of his presidential partner, Mitt Romney, is also a con game. Despite Romney’s repeated assertion that — by golly — his nifty plan will balance the federal budget in only eight years, Ryan confessed that they don’t really know that, because “we haven’t run the numbers on that specific plan.”

Say what? What? Hello — a budget is nothing but numbers — numbers that have, in fact, been run! Otherwise, it’s just a political hoax.

During his run in the presidential primaries this spring, when he was trolling for votes in the shallow waters of the Republican fringe, Romney embraced the Ryan budget, calling it a “bold and exciting effort” that is “very much needed.” And, hoping to glom onto Ryan’s “wow” appeal to the hyper-energized right wing, Romney brought Mr. Budget onboard for the fall run — with one interesting condition: The veep candidate has had to jettison his budget.