This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, December 13th, 2013:
The old saying, “The measure of a man is the size of the thing that gets his goat” certainly applies now to the erstwhile conservative Republican from Wisconsin, Rep. Paul Ryan. Working in closed-door sessions with liberal Democrats over the past two weeks, Ryan has finally revealed the size of his goat: tea party conservatives who stand on principle and won’t compromise for the sake of expediency.
His comments in his announcing the agreement that he and Patty Murray came up with to give away the sequester cuts in exchange for more promises to cut spending sometime in the future are instructive:
We know that this budget agreement doesn’t come close to achieving what we want to achieve on our ultimate fiscal goals. But again, if we can get a step in the right direction, we’re going to take that step, and that’s why we’re doing this.
As a conservative, I deal with the situation as it exists. I deal with the way things are, not necessarily the way I want them to be.
I’ve passed three budgets in a row that reflect my priorities and my principles and everything that I wanted to accomplish. We’re in divided government. I realize I’m not going to get that.
Translation: I tried to stick to my principles, really I did, honest. I kept trying and trying and trying, but I couldn’t pull it off. Now principles are fine things to have when I’m running for office, or trying to get reelected, but they really get in the way when we’re trying to run the government.
Ryan revealed his true colors:
I’m proud of this agreement. It reduces the deficit without raising taxes. And it cuts spending in a smarter way. It’s a firm step in the right direction.
A close look at the agreement reveals that these are lies. The deficit will be larger, taxes are going up, and the spending cuts won’t show up, if at all, until ten years from now. And what does Ryan give up to get all these benefits? The one single thing that has, for the first time in recent memory, actually reduced government spending: the sequester cuts imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011. The one bargaining chip Ryan had, he frittered away in exchange for … what? Promises.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) saw through the veneer: “Republicans will agree to more spending and, in exchange, Republicans will get higher taxes.” So did Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio):
I am against [the deal] just from the basic point that we embarked on a position at the beginning of the year that said: ‘We will keep the sequester [cuts] in place unless we get to make changes on mandatory spending that will save those programs and put the budget on path to balance within the next 10 years.
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Utah) confirmed that Ryan sold out principle to expediency:
I think it’s a terrible plan. I think it undoes everything we set out [to do]…. I think it violates every principle we talked about…. [Ryan’s plan] makes promises to the American people that are false.
So did Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.):
With the cuts we’ve done to spending over the last two years … watching those go up in smoke is disheartening … we [had] incredible leverage with sequestration….
Salmon joined with two other tea party conservatives, Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Steve Scalise (R-La.) to write a last-minute plea to others to hold the line:
With their own popularity cratering along with that of Obamacare, one can understand why the Democrats would want the diversion of another government shutdown.
We are not interested in giving the Democrats that opportunity … toward that end we encourage you to vote on a full-year … funding bill at the levels established in law by the Budget Control Act.
The Budget Control Act [which created the sequester cuts] is the law of the land. Our Democrat colleagues are now threatening to shut the government down in order to change that.
We should not permit that to happen.
But it did happen, thanks to Ryan. Only 94 House members voted against the bill, which is now expected to sail through the Senate and onto Obama’s desk within the fortnight.
Ryan has left a clear trail of compromise and disingenuousness in the most public of places: his voting record. No one should be surprised at Ryan’s sudden transformation from a principled conservative into a pragmatist. The Freedom Index is a Congressional scorecard based on the U.S. Constitution, which rates congressmen based on their adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements.
How well has Ryan hewn to those principles? His latest rating is a paltry 58 out of 100. Ryan is not a part of the solution. He is part of the problem.
The New York Times: Bipartisan Budget Deal Puts Ryan Under Fire From Fellow Conservatives
The Washington Post: Here’s what’s in Paul Ryan and Patty Murray’s mini-budget deal
The New York Times: The Minimalist Budget Deal
Real Clear Markets: Paul Ryan Gave Away the Sequester, Along With Fiscal Discipline
Real Clear Politics: Conservatives Rip Budget Deal — But Not Ryan
The Washington Times: All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget
Politico: Three conservatives want clean CR