'Paul Ryan Is the Biggest Fake I've Ever Seen in Politics': MSNBC Panel Blasts Outgoing House Speaker

MSNBC host Chris Hayes and his guests laid into House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday night after the outgoing Republican leader gave his farewell speech.

Hayes compared Ryan's advocacy of fiscal conservatism with his voting patterns, depicting the Wisconsin representative as a hypocrite.

"I think with him it's a little of the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king—which is to say that he actually did have significantly more grasp of policy details than the vast majority of the Republican caucus, though maybe that's not saying much," Hayes said.

"I think perhaps you're right. He certainly had academic patter down a lot better than a lot of them did," Esquire's Charles Pierce responded.

"To me—and I grew up in Massachusetts—Paul Ryan is the biggest fake I've ever seen in politics. I mean, nobody's close. If he's not doing this phony wonk thing where he's putting together his budgets with magic asterisks, he's going down the old...trail about how much he cares about poor folks. Paul Ryan cares about one thing and one thing only: shoving as much of the wealth of the United States up to the very, very top of the food chain and making sure it doesn't trickle back down again."

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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan delivers a farewell address in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress on December 19. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In his farewell speech, the Republican leader emphasized his worry about the national debt.

"What continues to plague us is a mandatory spending system that is deeply out of balance and unsustainable," he said.

"I'm proud that every year I was Budget Committee chairman, we passed in the House a roadmap to balancing the budget and paying off our debt," he said. "If we do these three things—make progress on poverty, fix our immigration system, confront this debt crisis—we can make this another great century for our country."

Ryan frequently raised concerns about government spending during President Barack Obama's presidency. However, the congressman often supported policies that increased the national debt during his 20 years in office.

"In his two decades in Washington, Ryan has consistently supported tax cuts and spending hikes that have boosted deficits, while consistently trashing Democrats for failing to cut deficits," Politico reported.

Ryan, 48, supported tax cuts passed by President George W. Bush, which increased the debt over $5 trillion since 2001. Yet he also lobbied against a stimulus bill Obama tried to pass, which offered 95 percent of public tax cuts worth $300 billion.

Ryan also supported expensive military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Wall Street bailout.

And he aggressively pushed for the tax reform bill that was signed into law last year, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said would increase the national debt by $1.9 trillion.

The deficit rose from about $439 billion in 2015, the year when Ryan became speaker, to $779 billion in 2018, according to the Treasury Department.

Some critics also took aim at Ryan's efforts to present himself as a policy wonk.

"Ryan's reputation for policy expertise was mostly a fraud," Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Bernstein wrote in a blistering opinion piece published on Thursday. "One of the main reasons that Ryan's agenda has gone nowhere, despite his ascent in the House and his party's unified control of government, is precisely that Republicans didn't have well-developed policy options ready to go."

Earlier this year, Ryan touted his record in government.

"I have accomplished much of what I came here to do," Ryan said in April, reported The Atlantic.

AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, defended his record last year. "No one has done more to develop and advance conservative policy over the last two decades than Paul Ryan. Now with a Republican president, he'll continue to work tirelessly to get additional conservative reforms into law," she said, reported The Washington Post.

'Paul Ryan Is the Biggest Fake I've Ever Seen in Politics': MSNBC Panel Blasts Outgoing House Speaker | U.S.