Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Paul Ryan and His Invisible Friends

I recently read the suggestion that we should assume that Paul Ryan is sincere, that he's advancing the bona fide viewpoint that the government should have a balanced budget and that the size and scope of government should be reduced. Here's the thing: Although I don't dispute that deficit hawks exist and have good reasons for wanting a balanced budget, you cannot take Paul Ryan's plan seriously as an effort to balance the budget because he provides specifics only in relation to tax cuts. You want to know where he's going to cut the budget? You have to guess. That's neither serious nor honest.

Similarly, absent an indication of where the cuts will come from, we have no reason to believe that Ryan's plan actually involves reducing the scope or scale of government. Ryan has, in the past, voted for massive spending bills, massive budget deficits, and a massive unfunded expansion of Medicare. Why should I overlook his actual voting history and assume that he has somehow "seen the light", when he won't explain what light he has seen? He's clear enough that he wants to increase military spending and slash taxes for the richest Americans. Why no specifics on budget cuts? If he has cuts in mind but is afraid that honesty will cause the public to denounce his plan, he's not being honest - and if his plan were passed that dishonesty would carry over until it finally necessary to reveal the cuts and which point the members his party would abandon the cuts in the interest of saving their seats - which would result in yet another Republican run-up of the deficit. If he does not have any cuts in mind he's also being dishonest - he knows he can't deliver and the entire exercise is a charade.

I see that Paul is now alluding to the political game that politicians play, and which I mentioned this morning in the context of Paul's budget: that politicians one thing in public and another in private:
"There are a number of Democrats but I don’t want to name their names, because I don’t want to get them in trouble," he said. "I’ve had 12 come up to me and say, 'I love what you're doing with Ron [Wyden],'" he said. As for going public with their support, Ryan said the Democrats told him: "No way, I’ll get killed."

"I’m not going to out Democrats who I believe are in office, who are favorably disposed to these ideas, for their own sake and for the sake fo getting this consensus realized," Ryan said at the gathering hosted by Bloomberg View in Manhattan Tuesday morning.
Have you ever noticed that Paul Ryan looks a bit like Don Adams? Just saying. No, really, in fairness there probably are some "blue dog" Democrats who are jealous that Paul Ryan is getting so much credit for spouting budgetary nonsense, and they can't get in on the game. By the same token, there are likely a significant number of Republicans who think Newt Gingrich's assessment of Ryan (before he tried to win the nomination and reversed himself) was spot on. Ryan won't be naming them, either.

If the Republicans had a serious proposal to balance the budget, they would reveal it. They wouldn't be hiding behind one man and the latest iteration of his secret plan.

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