Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) made an appearance this morning on “Fox News Sunday” with host Chris Wallace. The topic at hand? Why, the recycled and re-purposed Ryan Budget, of course. I do realize that his job is that of Chairman of House Budget Committee and I can respect his focus (misguided as I believe him to be), but does he ever think of anything else? Well…no. Check out his Twitter account. He only follows ONE Twitter user. Really.
And the one account he follows?
As he always is, this morning Ryan was rigid, wiry, and tense. Does this guy ever relax? Even his smiles seem to be calculated. Hmmm…
It began with Chris Wallace calling him out on basically riding on President Obama’s “tax increases” – where were NOT increases, but rather a return to the tax levels of pre-Bush tax cuts, which were never meant to be permanent – to achieve his budget cuts. Ryan asserted that he wouldn’t have to make extremely painful, tough spending cuts.
(Wallace) Let’s look, congressman, at a couple of the reasons you don’t have to make big changes in the new budget, to balance it in ten years. You include the $600 billion you mentioned in tax increases, that came from raising rates in the fiscal cliff debate and also include $716 billion in medicare cuts through obamacare that you opposed in the last campaign. Question, is it fair to say at least those parts of the president’s policies make it easier to balance the budget?
(Ryan) It is fair to say that.
Really? Wow. How would Ryan AKA Boy Wonder have come up with a balanced budget if he didn’t HAVE President Obama’s “tax increases”? Why isn’t anyone asking him that?
Enter the ObamaCare whammy. Yes, the networks are beginning to type it like that…nice! We like “ObamaCare.”
(Ryan) What we also say is, end the raid of Medicare from Obamacare.
You have to remember, all of that money that was taken from Medicare was to pay for Obamacare. We say we get rid of Obamacare, we end the raid and we apply those savings to Medicare to make Medicare more solvent and extend the solvency of the Medicare trust fund.
And we don’t want to refight the fiscal cliff. That’s current law. That’s not going to change.
And we also propose pro-growth tax reform which we think with this currents revenue line, we can have a very pro-growth tax reform system to bring all rates down. That’s good for economic growth. That’s good for job creation and hard working taxpayers, by having less loopholes in the tax code.
No more crony politics and stop picking winners and losers and pro-growth tax reforms, those things are still achievable and we achieve it in the budget and reflect those realities that you just mentioned.
Wallace zoned in on some of Ryan’s other painful cuts.
(Wallace) Let me ask you about a couple of specific cuts you made last year and tell me if they are not in the new budget — I assume they are. You cut Medicaid $770 billion, over the next ten years. You cut $134 billion from food stamps. You cut $166 billion from education, training and social services. Democrats say that that makes you the party of austerity.
Well, but let me explain, said Boy Wonder.
(Ryan) Well, we have 49 different job training programs spread across 9 different government agencies, lots of bureaucracies and they don’t work and we propose to consolidate the programs and go back to the states and get people into jobs and training so they can get back to work and get rid of the bureaucracy in Washington and send the money back to the states, so people can actually get the skills they need to get the jobs they want.
On food stamps, we basically say, you have to qualify for the food stamp programs to get the benefits. With our reforms, food stamps would have grown by 260% over the last ten years, and 270%, like they did grow.
And, with respect to Medicaid we think the Obamacare expansion of medicare is reckless. We are pushing people, 20 million people into a program that is failing. More and more doctors and hospitals don’t even take the program. And we want to reform Medicaid by giving states the ability to customize the program, to meet the unique needs of their Medicaid population.
Ryan seems to truly believe that we can “reform Medicaid” by giving money back to the states. Righttttt….And I’m sure the states would all use that money judiciously. How would my backwards Texas government, who is already refusing federal funds for Medicaid expansion (even though they don’t have a backup), use the funding? Not on medical care for poor people, I would venture to wager. And why does the GOP continuously harp on food stamp fraud? It has been proven that actual food stamp fraud is uncommon. But, alas, that’s one talking point the GOP will never give up.
Chris Wallace, as skeptical as the rest of us, asked:
(Wallace) Can you honestly say by turning Medicaid into a block grant and giving it to the states you can cut $770 billion out of that program, over the next ten years? That is going to have no impact on legitimate recipients?
But apparently Ryan’s only talking about FUTURE recipients. People like…well..those of us who are younger than 55…because:
(Ryan) These are increases that have not come yet. So, by repealing Obamacare, and the Medicaid expansions which haven’t occurred yet, we are basically preventing an explosion of a program that is already failing.
So, we’re saying don’t grow this program through Obamacare because it doesn’t work. Prevent that growth from going because it’s not going to work, it’s going to hurt people who are trying to help, it’s going to hurt hospitals and states and, give the states the tools that they are asking for.
So…um…yeah. What I said in the paragraph before that.
But then Chris Wallace asked, incredulously: “As part of your budget you assume the repeal of Obamacare?”
Ryan didn’t mince words: “Yes.”
But neither did Wallace: “That is not going to happen.”
And that’s when Ryan, the ever pragmatic follower of Ayn Rand, slipped into the world of make-believe.
(Ryan) Well, we believe it should. That’s the point. That’s what’s — but this is what budgeting is all about, Chris. It’s about making tough choices to fix our country’s problems.
We believe that Obamacare is a program that will not work. We believe Obamacare will actually lead to hospitals and doctors and health care providers turning people away.
Just so that we’re all on the same page here, everyone reading this does know that the “making tough choices” refers to me and everyone about 10 years older than me pretty much being left out in the cold, even though we, like today’s seniors, have paid into the program for all of our working lives, right?
Notice all of the “should” and “we believe” statements Ryan uses. Does a man like Ryan, again, ever pragmatic, really slip into the whimsical world of “should” and “believe”? No, he does not. He is saying “we believe” so that he’ll have an OUT when these horrific things do NOT come to fruition. If ObamaCare DOES work. If hospitals and doctors DON’T turn people away.
After he sucker punched all of us who are 54 and under, they discussed the lunacy a bit more before moving on to Ryan’s recent lunch with President Obama.
(Wallace) From your view, after having lunch with the president, do you think that his so-called charm offensive is sincere? That he is really looking for compromises on issues that still seem like there is a big divide or do you think it is more political theatre to at least appear to be reaching out?
(Ryan) I think the answer to that question will be determined based on how he conducts himself in the coming weeks and months. This is the first time I’ve ever had a conversation with the president lasting more than, say, two minutes or televised exchanges. So, I’ve never really had a conversation with him, on these issues before.
I am excited that we had the conversation. We had a very frank exchange. We come from different perspectives. I ran against him in the last election.
So, we exchanged very different, frank, candid views with one another that were very different, but at least we had the conversation. And I think the answer to your question will be determined by how he conducts himself in the coming weeks and months.
Will he resume the campaign mode? Will he resume attacking Republicans and impugning our motives? Will he resume what is long believed to be a plan to win the 2014 elections?
Or will he sincerely change and try and find common ground, try and work with Republicans to get something done? That’s what we hope happens.
OK, so what does Ryan think will happen? Let’s phrase it this way: WWRD (What Would Ryan Do)? What would the GOP do? Would they come to the table with a sincere change to find common ground, and try to work with Democrats to get things done?
(Ryan) If you impugn people’s motives, if you say these draconian cuts, which by the way we are increasing spending an average 4% a year, it does no good to get to common ground and makes it impossible for parties to come together and bridge the gaps, that kind of rhetoric resumes, then we will know it was for show and want sincere. I hope it is sincere, we had a good, frank exchange and the truth will be in the come weeks as to whether or not it is a real sincere outreach to find common ground.
The bottom line? Chris Wallace wanted to know, too.
(Wallace) Bottom line, what do you think the chances are of a big deal, this year to try to get the deficit under control?
Ryan used this opportunity to emphasize the terms of the president’s probation.
(Ryan) I think it is going to determine — be determined by the temperament and the posture that the president and all of us take over the next few weeks. We have spending problems and I like to think we can find common ground on where and how to cut spending and get some entitlement reforms.
Will the president take our premium support program and block- granting Medicaid? My guess is he won’t. We think that’s the best way to make these programs work better, but are there things you can do short of that, that gets you closer to balancing the budget, that delays the debt crisis from hitting this country? Yes, I think there are.
And I do believe that there’s a consensus for tax reform. There are a lot of moderate Democrats, especially in the Senate, that are in favor of lowering tax rates by closing loopholes. That’s what we’re proposing.
Stop picking winners and losers in Washington, let people keep more of their hard-earned money, you don’t lose revenue for the federal government, and you make it easier for small businesses to create jobs and hire more workers. We think there’s a bipartisan consensus for that and I’m hoping the president comes to join that consensus.
And oh, yeah, Ryan will probably run for president in 2016. He’s focused on the budget right now (yes, we know), but he’ll be giving “serious thought to these other things” when the budget’s all tidied away. He made one thing clear: he does not want to be, nor has he ever wanted to be, Speaker of the House.
All quotes are from the official “Fox News Sunday” transcript.
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I am an unapologetic member of the Christian Left, and have spent a lot of time working with “the least of these” and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. I’m passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics I discuss, subscribe to my public updates on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me via LinkedIn. I also have a grossly neglected blog. Find me somewhere and let’s discuss stuff.