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Disgust and despair: the Paul Ryan budget

December 14, 2013

[J.P.'s Moment of Common Sense. For list of subscribing radio stations, click here.]

The latest stab in America's back comes from Paul Ryan, congresscritter from Wisconsin and last year's Republican Party nominee for Vice President. This is a great nation, the greatest the world has ever seen, but even the largest and most powerful beast can't bleed forever without consequence. Even the bull elephant goes to his knees eventually.

In October, the Republican Party surrendered on the government shutdown after Senator Ted Cruz led a long lonely fight against funding Obamacare. His fight was singular in every sense of the word: singular meaning extraordinary, remarkable, and exceptional; and singular meaning there was one single person doing all the fighting—Ted Cruz.

Nobody else had the courage to stand with him, certainly not in the House where Paul Ryan loiters.

Since then we've learned that Ted Cruz was correct in every particular. Since then we've watched millions of Americans lose their health insurance and either be unable to replace it with new health insurance or be unable to negotiate the dysfunctional federal website where they're supposed to be able to shop for new policies. Since then we've watched even left-wing supporters of President Obama admit he's been lying through his teeth.

PolitiFact, for example, has officially labeled the president's declaration that, "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it," their 2013 Lie of the Year. Congratulations, Mr. President. Hopefully they send you a plaque or something. You can display it next to your Peace Prize.

According to the Constitution, the House of Representatives is where funding and expenditure decisions must originate. Nobody can spend a dime if the House doesn't authorize it. The Founders designed it that way because the House is the most representative of all government institutions—435 voting members from districts small enough that every American has a reasonable chance of personally meeting and being acquainted with his own congresscritter. Yep, you betcha, that dirty louse is one of your neighbors. You are statistically unlikely to personally know your president or your senator or any of those moronic, ethically-questionable, "How-many-angels-can-dance-on-the-head-of-a-pin?" Supreme Court justices, but you can by-golly know your congresscritter.

And you should. Here's a suggestion: sometime in the next couple of weeks, go introduce yourself to the cowardly parasite, whoever he is. (Or she.) These cretins like to hold town hall gatherings over the Christmas break so they can pretend to be in touch with constituents. They might be inspired to slip the elephant a Band-Aid if everybody attends and overflows those town hall gatherings expressing our great collective disgust and generally rattling their cages.

Probably not, but they might.

The nature and function of the House of Representatives is relevant because this horrible treasonous budget came with a ready-made excuse: Mr. Ryan says he had to make this deal because Obama was re-elected last year. "Elections have consequences," he whined on the Sean Hannity Show. If that sounds familiar, it's because you hear it from Obama all the time. It's his favorite line. (Or second favorite after "Fore!") He's been using it for every wrong-headed policy he latches onto since he took office in 2009.

So even though we know now that Obamacare is a nightmarish disaster, causing tragedy across the nation, messing up the best health care system in the world, and even though the actual mechanics of the website ostensibly designed to make it work are wildly flawed to the point of comedy, Paul Ryan and Barack Obama say, "Tough shit, America. Elections have consequences."

Leave aside the question of why a Republican congressman is emulating and quoting Barack Obama—curiouser and curiouser, as Alice would say—both he and the president seem to be forgetting that House members are elected, too. In 2010, after Democrats in Congress used dirty, partisan, constitutionally-questionable methods to get the government takeover of our health care system passed, right after that the Republicans won the 2010 mid-term elections in an historic landslide. A landslide the likes of which the United States of America had never seen.

There has never been a bigger rejection of a political party and its president than the one that happened in 2010. Shouldn't that election have consequences?

And in 2012, even after Barack Obama used the police powers of numerous federal agencies to cajole and intimidate the electorate into giving him another four years, most Americans elected a Republican to be their Representative in Congress. Most Americans, in other words, reaffirmed their 2010 decision to put Republicans in charge of spending.

If elections have consequences, why doesn't the election of a Republican majority in the House, two times in a row, have consequences?

At a time when the U.S. government is bleeding us dry and spending us into bankruptcy, the Paul Ryan budget raises taxes and ends the "sequester" which has been the only thing even slightly restraining expenditures. At a time when Americans are sick of lies, the Paul Ryan budget increases spending in exchange for empty promises of future cuts that we know will never happen. And the very worst thing of all: at a time when everybody can see that Obamacare is a monstrous and cruel mess, the Paul Ryan budget funds it for the next two years.

Which means it's permanent, folks. We will never get rid of it now. They should call it "Ryancare" from now on because he's the traitor who made it happen.

That's... today’s dose of common sense.

"The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets." — Will Rogers

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it." — Mark Twain

"There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves." — Will Rogers

From Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA       

December 24, 2013 - To me this latest bit of betrayal is yet another piece of the puzzle that is increasingly adding up to a government composed of people who have zero intentions of governing to the will of the people. I include the likes of Cruz and Paul in that. There appears to be specific players who are designated to act as rogues who go through the motions of standing up to the progressive establishment but who ultimately fall short again and again... often with remarkable precision as measured in votes against the agenda that grinds inexorably forward. The purpose would be to fool anyone paying the least bit of attention into believing that their concerns are being heard so that they do not actually delve any deeper or become involved.
What this "budget" really is goes well beyond fiscal issues. It's confirmation not only that the progressive agenda will not be thwarted but also that one can pretty much count people like Paul Ryan among the progressives... that his "conservative attack dog" persona was little more than a costume he donned for his supporting role as cast member in the classic American play: "Election 2012- the re-immaculation of our lord and savior, Barack the Messiah". As long as we remain transfixed by the premise that any of the political charade is legitimate nothing will be accomplished. The Republicans did not surrender on the shutdown in October - that "surrender" had already been brokered.
This budget provides for the funding of Obamacare... which is a legislative tool designed to bring one-sixth of the economy down and drag the middle class with it. Does anyone at all find it remotely odd that a government that affords itself no limits on resources and can successfully implement a system of dragnet gathering of all manner of electronic communication by its law abiding citizenry somehow falls woefully short in setting up a website for people to enroll in the President's signature health care program? The obvious half-assed effort to establish in input system for information that the government likely already has on all of us to service a program sold to us as health care reform is a tell that it isn't what it was sold to us as being - something that the illustrious members of the GOP, INCLUDING Ryan, had five years to disseminate to their constituents. Now the budget that Paul Ryan co-authored fully funds the bureaucratic farce that is Obamacare. – John, Phoenix

December 17, 2013 - The nerd in me would like to point out that four elections have produced bigger losses than 2010. 1958 for the Democrats, 1920,1894, and 1928 for Republicans. Also it was time to end the budget battle. The fight did severe damage to the Republicans. A recent poll showed Americans blaming them over President Obama by near 3-1 margins. I think the whole thing can be summed up with one quote "A good general not only knows how to win but when victory is impossible"-Sun Tzu. – Devin C., Idaho
J.P. replies: In the link under "historic landslide" I qualified with the word "arguably," but the counter example I gave was 1938 when the country soundly rejected Roosevelt, switching 72 seats in the House from Democrat to Republican. Trouble is, my example is not—and none of your examples are, either—exactly comparable. 1920 and 1928 were presidential elections with emotional momentum created by electing first-time presidents (Harding and Hoover), while 1894, 1938, and 1958 were midterm elections in presidents' second terms (Cleveland, Franklin Roosevelt, and Eisenhower), when presidents are almost always wildly unpopular. The 2010 election was unique in being a rejection of a president only two years in office. As for Sun Tzu, I think he would ask, "How can a general lose when he is in charge of his enemy's supplies?" Without the House supplying the funds, the Senate and the White House can't pay their electric bills or buy toilet paper. The House is the most powerful institution of the U.S. government but the Republican establishment acts like a pack of whipped curs.

December 15, 2013 - WOW JP, how do you really feel?! I agree with you that the new budget put forth is less than optimal. It allows more spending for the democrats, kicks the can further down the road. Washington is a mess, from the top right down to the lowliest representative. Many Americans feel that way, as the polls on numerous subjects reflect that fact. But....the bottom line is, as much as I personally hate it, the democrats have the numbers, and they stick together. The Republicans and Conservatives only have the majority in the house, and unfortunately, they can put forth anything they want, but it has to get pass Harry Reid for an actual vote in the Senate. Even if ole Harry brought it to the floor for a vote, the Democrats stick together, and any bill would be DOA. It's what they call a "hot mess!" I appreciate what Ted Cruz did for the ACA. I have a lot of respect for any political person, who will stand up for his beliefs, and stand up for the things that his constituents in his home state sent him/her to Washington to do. The bottom line is as much as we hate it, we don't have the numbers necessary to get things done. Furthermore those that are of libertarian/conservative/republicans values and beliefs are fighting among themselves. They need to pull it together, and reflect a more united front. Unless they do that, the Democrats/Liberals will have to do nothing further. As they say "give someone enough rope and they will hangs themselves." – Pam T., Virginia
J.P. replies: Yeah, sorry, I don't have any faith in the "let them hang themselves" theory. They hang themselves constantly and the failures are spun into either successes or blame on the Republicans. Two things: first, as I said in the column, nobody can spend a dime unless the House initiates it so Harry Reid can fail to pass a budget all he wants, from now until the cows come home, the end result will be a continuation of the sequester which is less spending than the Paul Ryan budget; and second, THIS BUDGET is the first time Obamacare is being funded, which means the last real hope Americans had for escaping the tragedy and tyranny of this legislation is destroyed.

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