If Rep. Paul Ryan wants people to take his budget manifestos seriously, he should be honest about his ambition: not so much to make the federal government fiscally sustainable as to make it smaller.
Voters were supposed to believe that Ryan was an apostle of fiscal rectitude. But his real aim wasn’t to balance the budget. It was to starve the federal government of revenue. Big government, in his worldview, is inherently bad — never mind that we live in an awfully big country.
Ryan and Mitt Romney offered their vision, President Obama offered his, and Americans made their choice. Rather emphatically.
Now Ryan, as chairman of the House Budget Committee, is coming back with an ostensibly new and improved version of the framework that voters rejected in November. Judging by the preview he offered Sunday, the new plan is even less grounded in reality than was the old one.
If last year’s election accomplished anything (besides keeping the White House and Senate safely away from Republican control), it was exposing Ryan as a fraud. “Numbers guy?” Not really.
Ryan’s budget plan, released today, basically reads as follows: repeal anything Obama passed over the last four years. Period. Obamacare, Wall Street regulations and reform, all of it. Scrap it. As for Medicare…privatize it.
It’s the same arguments Republicans made for the entire length of the election campaign – a campaign in which Ryan clearly stated at the time was to be viewed as a referendum on ideas – his versus President Obama’s. Well, Ryan lost. So now what?
So the question is, the election didn’t go our way — believe me, I know what that feels like — that means we surrender our principles? That means we stop believing in what we believe in?
We think we owe the country a balanced budget. We think we owe the country solutions to the big problems that are plaguing our nation: a debt crisis on the horizon, a slow-growing economy, people trapped in poverty. We’re showing our answers.
Answers which a majority of Americans rejected last November…but hey, as any conservative will tell you, elections only have consequences when Republicans win.
The Paul Ryan source photograph is a Creative Commons licensed image from photographer Gage Skidmore.