After championing a budget compromise with Democrats last December that actually increased spending under the guise of “deficit reduction,” Paul Ryan is now switching back to hard core tea-party type rhetoric as he eyes the chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
My recommendation is not to put too much stock in this latest tough-talking budget proposal.
You see, past-compromisers like this have a trick to deceive voters. They push big-ticket, hard core measures to impress conservative voters. But these measures of are such over-the-top nature that they have no chance of passing—and their sponsors know this ahead of time. But meanwhile, the politician is doing absolutely nothing actually to advance passage now or at any time in any way in the future of such a measure. In fact, they are often collaborating with so-called “moderates” and leftists to pass even more deficits, spending, big government, militarism, etc., all of which doe exactly the opposite of what their tough talk purports.
Yet when campaign season rolls around, said politicians will trot out only their conservative big-talk as credentials: “I introduced the toughest pro-life bill in history.” “I wrote the bill with the largest deficit cuts of anyone.” “I led the fight to repeal ObamaCare.”
They did nothing of the sort.
For starters, any great vision Ryan may actually have has already been hamstrung by his own compromise from last December. While taking the traditional tactic of figuring alleged budget cuts over 10 years (eternity for Congress), the first full two years of the plan are already required by the previous agreement to spend more than Obama himself would have. And this was what Ryan worked for over a few months, with Democrats, and against tea party conservatives, to enshrine as law.
As a result, the first two years actually increase spending overall.
The Heritage Foundation takes a look at pros and cons in Ryan’s plan. They give it too much credit, but rightly see the “Ryan compromise” requiring additional spending in unnecessary areas that actually expand government. Military spending would be increased by nearly half a trillion dollars. Likewise, Ryan’s budget increases federal spending on education beyond that of Obama. Heritage notes that it “does not provide a blueprint for truly reducing federal intervention in education.”
And beyond this, any talk of reductions in spending and deficit must deal with future Congresses in which Ryan has no insight, and can give no assurances at all. Even if he did he would likely have dozens of qualifiers by which to evade personal accountability. As such, Ryan knows he can talk as uber-conservative as he wants and never have to be accountable for what he says.
It STILL is not proposing reining in wasteful government overspending TODAY, instead of speculating years out that some future Congress and White House may possibly, hopefully, eh-who-knows, take responsibility for today’s budgetary selfishness and shortsightedness to do so.
Let’s face it: when Sarah Palin calls you a joke, and she’s right, that’s pretty much rock bottom.
And that criticism is more than appropriate; it exposes the trick I talked about. Ryan is on the one hand proposing some big, over-the-top conservative measures, but only of the type he knows stand no chance of any kind of fruition. And worse, in the meantime (the only time that really matters right now), he is making compromises with liberals and increasing spending beyond even what the liberals had proposed. And yet you can be sure he will tout his hard-core tea party credentials during campaign season.
Heritage notes that Ryan’s plan realizes it’s largest “spending savings” by repealing ObamaCare. Considering how Ryan just recently posted a petition to “repeal and replace” ObamaCare, I wonder how sincere he is. Considering no repeal of ObamaCare stands a chance of happening without full domination of both houses of Congress and the Presidency, Ryan’s whole budget is precarious, even if sincere.
The same goes for reforms of Medicaid and Medicare. Heritage rightly notes that “policymakers should look to mainstream the Medicaid population into private coverage and out of the failing government program.” Same goes for Medicare. But Ryan’s plan doesn’t even begin cuts here until 2022–23 (Heritage says 2024) which is simply too far out to be realistic. And even then, the level of cuts Ryan proposes for that far-out time is a pittance compared to the problem. Palin’s “joke” still applies.
As I have said in Restoring America One County at a Time, privatizing Social Security or major welfare systems can only be done quickly, over a few years at most, and can only come with a population willing to accept various levels of personal sacrifice in view of increased freedom. That’s a tough sell.
Future Congresses can in no way be trusted to follow through with any plan that requires sacrificial and unpopular budget cuts, unless Congress is dominated by people who refuse to spend like liberals and refuse to compromise with them—for the duration.
In the end, I believe Ryan knows all of this. I think he is playing the classic game conservative politicians have used for many decades to deceive dedicated voters in many areas—fiscal, pro-life, pro-guns, and many more. They talk tough, but do nothing serious to make headway. In fact, they often work to subvert the very causes they pretend to advance.
But then, during campaign season, these ambitious conservatives point to their tough talk as their credentials—and deceive many. They are fronts, and conservative causes suffer for it perennially.
With these guys, the compromise always wins, and the cause never does. Remember this when you see guys like Ryan promoting your most cherished cause.