Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (R.-Wisc.) is used to being celebrated by pundits for his “courageous,” “bold,” “serious” budget proposals (even though his numbers don’t add up). Indeed, Ryan has become a genuine media darling.
So it must have been a little surprising to find himself being booed earlier this week, at a town hall meeting he hosted in his congressional district.
It happened after one attendee at the event, a constituent describing himself as a “life-long conservative” challenged GOP views on income disparity, taxes on the wealthy, and raising the income cap on Social Security taxes:
The middle class is disappearing right now. During this time of prosperity, the top 1 percent was taking about 10 percent of the total annual income, but yet today we are fighting to not let the tax breaks for the wealthy expire? And we’re fighting to not raise the Social Security cap from $87,000? I think we’re wrong.
The boos came a moment later when Ryan responded insisting, “We do tax that top.”
The contrast between the easy ride Ryan’s had from professional journalists and the way he was challenged by his constituents demonstrates (once again) the disconnect between pundits and the people they often claim to speak for. (As Think Progress reports, a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll “found that 72 percent of Americans wanted Congress to raise taxes on wealthy Americans making more than $250,000 per year.”)
In the summer of 2009, the corporate media frequently covered town hall meetings where Democratic politicians were challenged, sometimes even shouted down, by opponents of the party’s healthcare initiatives. So far Ryan’s awkward town hall moment has created an online buzz, but besides a few mentions on MSNBC (e.g., 4/20/11, 4/22/11) and 0ne Chicago Tribune report, it’s received scant corporate media attention.