Ryan's World

Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) released another budget which was narrowly passed last week by the House of Representatives.  This plan is not, as Mr. Ryan stated, an invitation to the president nor United States Senate.  Invitations are reserved for dinner parties.

But such is reality in Ryan’s world.

My gut says Paul Ryan is still miffed at being slapped around by the president a few years back when Mr. Obama gave a speech at George Washington University.  All public officials have giant egos and when bruised the recovery period can be lengthy.

On that day, President Obama, without knowing Mr. Ryan was sitting in the front row, delivered one haymaker after another.  It was not one of the finest moments in his first term.

Political ideology and rhetoric aside, Mr. Ryan’s budget is a symptom of what is wrong in Washington.  It makes no sense whatsoever to draw up legislation that has zero chance of being signed into law.  A professional politician needs to learn how to lead and achieve what is possible.  To get bills passed, one has to be like a maestro who conducts a symphony.  One must direct and blend the talents and political currents in Congress as well as a majority of Americans.

My how the tables in politics have turned.  It used to be Democrats who, as Robert Kennedy was fond of saying, loved to lose.  When either party takes on a losing culture, the whole nation suffers.

Mr. Ryan, no matter how much you dislike the Affordable Care Act, the law is not going away.  Neither House in the Congress has the votes to override a presidential veto.  So basing your numbers on “Obama Care” going away because that is what you want smacks of immaturity.

I agree with Ezra Klein (EK) of the Washington Post who said spelled out the truth behind the Ryan plan.  Mr. Klein hit the nail on the head by stating Paul Ryan is using the language of deficit reduction to disguise his true goal– to change how government works.  A closely related point made by EK is Representative Ryan has never been a deficit hawk.  He voted for the Bush tax cuts, the Iraq war, and Medicare Part D.  Money gets spent as long as it supports his vision and financial backers.

I could respect Paul Ryan a lot more if he would just level with his colleagues in the Congress and the American public.  He is offering a fundamentally different view of government.  I do not agree with him, but a real leader should build support for that vision.  Plus his plan, as does the Senate budget proposal, only slows the rate of government spending.

Unfortunately, our nation does not have the time nor luxury of lingering in Ryan’s world.  We face a twin challenge of fixing the economy and slowly reducing government spending in the short-term.  Long term, the president and Congress must begin to discuss how to best reorganize and streamline government.

The time has really come to drop the notion of a “grand bargain.”  Politically it is not attainable.  More importantly, the Budget and Impoundment Act, the law that guides how the Congress makes a budget, is only set up to address one fiscal year at a time.

The Congress also has to get off the Continuing Resolution budget train.  Until we get back to the basics of a budget process: setting spending ceilings and passing every appropriations bills, anything else is really a moot point.

Mr. Ryan, let me give you some sage advice.  As Budget Committee Chairman, your time will be better spent talking to your counterpart in the Senate, Patty Murray (plus she sits on Appropriations as Senators can serve on both committees unlike the House).  You may also want to chat up Rep. Harold Rogers, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and Senator Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Speaking of the Senate, it is great to see Majority Leader Reid get his body in order and pass a budget.  It is about damn time!  Now it will be up to a House-Senate conference hammer out a budget resolution.  Let’s hope those Appropriations bills start rolling down the line too.

Until then, it is up to you, Mr. Ryan, to negotiate and reach a compromise with your Senate counterparts.   I know you are enamored with your world.  But the country needs leadership from the Congress.  Preferably now!

If you desire to wonk out all the time, I urge you to follow your Republican colleague from the Senate and head on over to the Heritage Foundation.

May be that is where you will find your niche?

Author: Robert Katula

What say you, the people?