Founded by Drew Pearson 1932
Faux intellect Ryan
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
WASHINGTON – It feels like the presidential campaign never ended with Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., back in the news and Mitt Romney on the list of speakers appearing before the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). If you woke up after a deep sleep and missed Election Night, you’d never guess President Obama won reelection and the voters repudiated the GOP’s plan to make cutting the budget the number one priority for the nation.
The budget that Ryan and Romney campaigned on would have balanced the budget in 40 years – count ‘em, 40 years – and even with that far distant goal, the GOP team would have had to cut popular programs to keep their promise of never, ever raising taxes. Now Ryan has upped the ante, coming forward with a budget this week that would balance in a mere 10 years, a commitment that the Republican leadership made to get the GOP caucus to support the January 1 debt ceiling compromise that raised the rates on upper-income earners.
Ryan presents himself as the intellectual leader of the Right, but the budget he offers is simply more of the same, only worse, than what he and Romney ran on last year. It is intellectually dishonest in the sense that Ryan calls for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare. That’s not going to happen, yet he pockets the savings as though he had just won the lottery.
Obamacare is the Houdini of public policy. Since its inception in 2009, it has survived every challenge and escaped every tough spot it faced, and there were many. When Massachusetts elected Republican Scott Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley, there went the 60th vote to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. Democrats found a way around that, but then had to survive a challenge in the Supreme Court. That was a close call with Chief Justice John Roberts providing the unlikely fifth vote to uphold the law’s constitutionality.
Then there was the election with Republicans up and down the ticket running on repealing Obamacare. And they’re still not done. They voted by last count 35 times to repeal Obama’s signature achievement.
Now Ryan assumes in this latest iteration of his budget that Obamacare goes away, but that’s not going to happen. Worse, he makes no pretense of replacing it with anything that would assure health care for 40 million people, or provide coverage for people with preexisting conditions whom insurance companies routinely turn down, or charge so much that coverage is unaffordable.
Ryan’s other cardinal sin in assembling his budget is pocketing $716 billion in savings that the Obama administration took out of Medicare, claiming it as found money when he and Romney ran on how, if elected, they would return that money to Medicare. In truth, it came out of payments to insurance companies to give them an incentive to create private plans that would attract seniors. It worked, and the additional money was no longer needed; the insurance companies were doing fine on their own, and Medicare beneficiaries did not suffer the way Romney and Ryan claimed they would.
Ryan also happily incorporates the increased revenue from top earners that Obama fought for, and that the Republicans resisted for so long. If the Ryan budget is an opening bid, and as the House Budget Chairman, he is willing to engage in serious negotiations, that’s one thing. If it’s his end point, then we’re back where we started. It might as well be last October when positions were hardened into campaign rhetoric, and saying No to Obama is all the GOP knows how to do.
Meanwhile, is Ryan the best budget voice the GOP has or is he simply a faux intellectual
© 2013 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND