Friday, October 12, 2012

Promising the Moon then Passing the Hard Work to Congress Isn't Leadership

A central theme of the Romney/Ryan campaign is that they don't have to be specific about the more difficult aspects of their otherwise pie-in-the-sky plans because they're simply going to delegate the task to Congress.
"Here's our specific proposal for a $4 - $5 trillion tax cut, inuring largely to the benefit of the wealthy. Now it's your job, Congress, to find the loopholes to close and deductions to eliminate to make our plan revenue-neutral.
I have forgotten. Which branch of government controls the purse strings again? Which branch of government is infamous for its pork and earmarks, for not wanting to cut anything that might alienate a constituent or wealthy donor? Which branch of government has two-faced "budget experts" who publicly decry stimulus spending while privately pleading for stimulus dollars to be sent to their districts? Which branch of government delegates its difficult budgetary tasks to committees and forces "up or down" votes on committee reports, because that allows its members to avoid taking personal responsibility for any resulting pain? (Give me a "C", give me an "O", give me a "N"....)

This would be the same Congress that created those deductions and loopholes? This would be the same Congress that passed, with "budget expert" Paul Ryan's support, authorization for two unfunded wars and the massive unfunded entitlement expansion, Medicare Part D? This would be the same Congress that has passed each and every budget that has added to our national debt? When he's not campaigning, and professing deep regret for his career of deficit-expanding votes, Paul Ryan is very much part of the problem.

If Romney and Ryan believe what they're saying, they're fools. But you know what? They're not fools. They're hoping that the rest of us are fools, and that a pliant media continues to go along with their game.

To be leaders in this context, Romney and Ryan don't have to take a "my way or the highway" approach. They simply need to put together a credible proposal and say, "If Congress can improve on this, that would be great, but as you can see this really can work." You know what else? If they're deferring to Congress, with Paul Ryan being the GOP's "budget expert" in Congress, Ryan should be able to speak for the House majority right now. If this proposal were to come before the Republican majority in the house, what would Ryan endorse right now? It's a fair question, and one a leader would not be afraid to answer.

Were they honest, they would admit that they're not willing to risk their political futures by telling the truth - that even if we assume there are enough loopholes and deductions to close, there is simply no way that Congress is going to take responsibility for inflicting that kind of pain. If they were courageous they would stand behind their convictions and state exactly what their plan entails, accepting the political consequences. Were they leaders they would produce an actual plan and present it to Congress and the nation. But alas, they're none of the above, so they pretend that its enough to pass the buck to Congress, knowing full well that Congress will demur.

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