Tears of a Deficit Hawk - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Tears of a Deficit Hawk

According to the Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein, “The occasion of Rep. Paul Ryan winning an award for fiscal responsibility has left a lot of people wondering where the Paul Ryan who seemed to care so much for fiscal responsibility has gone.”

Ignoring the glaring non sequitur (why would people start to doubt Ryan’s fiscal responsibility just as he’s won an award for fiscal responsibility?), I notice that I haven’t run into too many of these people Klein’s worried about. Of course at any given time there are a handful of liberal bloggers whining about Ryan, but as far as “lots” of former fans newly heartbroken over Ryan’s fiscal nonchalance go, it’s a pretty quiet crowd. 

In fact I think it may be a party of one — Klein himself. The reason this group is so small is because its (his) complaint against Ryan is nonsensical: 

Since winning the election, the GOP — with Ryan’s support — has increased budget deficits and policy uncertainty alike. They chose a temporary tax cut rather than a permanent one, and also sought the repeal of the health-care bill and a continuing resolution rather than real appropriations bills. All of that increased policy uncertainty. As for the deficit, the tax deal increased it by $850 billion. That’s larger than any other single piece of legislation signed by Obama. 

I guess that the GOP “chose” a temporary tax cut in the sense that Democrats “chose” to temporarily cut taxes for the highest earners. But it would be more accurate to note that the tax deal was a compromise, and that if Ryan and the GOP could have made the Bush tax cuts permanent, there is absolutely no doubt that they would have. 

And the claim that the tax deal increased the deficit by $850 billion makes sense in a meaningless, litigious way, but then again Paul Ryan has never been in favor of raising taxes, so he’s certainly been consistent on that point. 

Unfortunately, Klein goes on: 

Ryan will point out that the real budget problem is health-care driven spending, and he’s got a long-term plan to deal with that. People can argue about whether his Roadmap, which operates by the principle of “we simply lower the cap and then those things go down,” will actually work. But fiscal responsibility isn’t measured by what you want. It’s measured by what you do.

If Ryan could “do” the Roadmap, he would. In fact he’s trying to “do” everything he can to make it law. 

The reality is that every Democrat who voted to cut Medicare by more than $500 billion and raise taxes by more than $400 billion in order to offset the cost of the health-care bill cast a tougher vote for fiscal responsibility than Ryan has. 

It’s not true that a vote for Obamacare was a vote for fiscal responsibility, even assuming that those Medicare cuts and taxes will materialize, which is a big assumption. It is true that, by those assumptions, Obamacare would cut the deficit. But that’s not the same thing as fiscal responsibility. Given the nation’s looming fiscal problems, the new spending that Obamacare mandates is fiscally irresponsible, whether or not Obamacare cuts the deficit on paper. 

By the way, no one cares how many awards for fiscal responsibility Ryan gets. If he leads Congress toward sustainable long-term budgets but fails to win an award ever again, you won’t hear me complaining. 

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