Government

Ryan Spars with Norquist on ‘Real Time with Bill Maher’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – U.S. Tim Ryan, his national media profile elevated in November by taking on Nancy Pelosi, appeared on the HBO program Real Time with Bill Maher Friday evening and sparred with Grover Norquist, the no-tax-increase-ever proponent, over supply side economics.

The comedy program’s panel discussion was a departure for Ryan from the cable news shows he became accustomed to visiting. Maher, a biting political commentator who skewers Donald Trump at every turn, began by citing the president’s unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud, his threat to essentially impose martial law in Chicago, and warned a “slow-moving coup” to fascism is being led by “alternative facts.”

Ryan, D-13 Ohio, replied with a reinterpretation of the message he argued in his failed attempt to become minority leader in the House of Representatives.

“Democrats don’t go where Republicans are. We don’t go to rural America. We don’t go on Fox News, we don’t go on CNBC, we don’t go on Hugh Hewitt or Laura Ingraham,” he said. “The bottom line is if we don’t go where these people are, the alternative facts are the only facts they’re going to hear.”

Norquist said former President Obama promised not to raise taxes on anyone who makes less that $200,000 and broke the promise within 16 days of taking office.

“George Bush cut taxes twice and blew a big hole in the deficit, started two wars, didn’t pay for a thing, did Part D for Medicare, didn’t pay for it,” Ryan said. “That blew a hole in the deficit big time until the collapse of 2008. That’s supply side economics. We don’t have to wonder what the hell will happen. We know what happened.”

“The problem is starting the war, not how you pay for it,” Norquist replied.

“The problem is the war started on a lie – you want to talk about alternative facts,” Ryan countered.

Maher pressed Norquist over Trump’s insistence that he can achieve “massive tax cuts, a big military buildup and giant infrastructure. How does this add up? I thought adding up was your thing?” Maher said.

Norquist cited House Speaker Paul Ryan’s intention to cut federal entitlement programs.

“If you’re going to rein in government spending as a percentage of the economy, you have to reform them,” he said. “You’re discussing Trump as if he’s the king. He’s not. He’s the president.”

“You tell him that as he signs his decrees,” Maher quipped.

The audience roared with laughter.

Ryan got his shares of laughs as well.

“The funny thing about the inauguration is that the two people who kissed [Donald Trump’s] ass the most – Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani – are sitting on the dais watching every [Cabinet] secretary go by and saying, ‘That could have been me. That could have been me.’ “

In the online segment of the program that followed the broadcast, Ryan spoke of his mindful eating policy prescriptions, Big Ag and local food.

He also said poor economic conditions in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan show each state’s “Republican governors aren’t doing a good job. It’s a hell of an opportunity” for Democrats to win these statehouses and “start adjusting the map for the House of Representatives” when reapportionment occurs in 2020.

Is that his intention? Even Ryan doesn’t know.

Pictured: Tim Ryan and Bill Maher. Photo posted on Ryan’s Twitter feed.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.