Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Does Ryan Actually Believe That Budget Process Nonsense?

Look, I admit it: the silly GOP talking point about the Senate not passing budget resolutions bothers me more than, perhaps, it should. Oh, it's a stupid talking point, alright, no question about that (and massively hypocritical; failures to pass Budget Resolutions started under GOP control of Congress). It conflates budgeting, which is an important business, with passage of Budget Resolutions, which may or may not be particularly important.

Anyway, I guess the reason that it gets so much attention is that top Republicans, including Paul Ryan, keep using it as if it means something. For example, in a column (with Buck McKeon) today about military spending, Ryan starts with a partisan but not crazy description of the debt limit fight:

When House Republicans made clear that any increase in the debt limit must be accompanied by an even greater amount of spending reduction, the President insisted that he would not accept a debt-limit deal that did not include large tax increases on American families and businesses.
I mean, I could quibble with some of that, but yes, Barack Obama wanted higher taxes than the Republicans. But then he says:
All of this work was made more difficult by the Senate's failure to pass any budgets at all in 2010 or 2011. 
Really? Exactly how were the debt limit negotiations made more difficult by the Senate's failure to pass FY 2011 and FY 2012 Budget Resolutions? Did Democrats not know their own position? Of course not; Barack Obama had submitted a budget (well, actually, an original and a supplemental budget) that served as the first-cut Democratic position. Did Republicans not know the Democrats' position? Of course not. They, too, had Obama's budget. Were Democrats not prepared for the details involved in complex budget negotiations? To the contrary; the president's budget was far more detailed than either of Ryan's House-passed budgets have been.

Of course, Ryan here is just indulging in a little partisan cheap shot here. Which is, certainly, what you expect of partisan hacks, although not so much of those who are trying to get treated as "Serious" legislators. But I continue to be baffled by the whole thing -- it just doesn't strike me as a particularly effective talking point, although perhaps it focus groups that way -- leading me to suspect that it's Paul Ryan himself who actually, and foolishly, cares about it.


  1. I'm inclined to think that it's just being used as a talking point. In that light, I don't think it sheds any light at all on whether Ryan believes it or not.

  2. "Of course, Ryan here is just indulging in a little partisan cheap shot here. Which is, certainly, what you expect of partisan hacks, although not so much of those who are trying to get treated as "Serious" legislators."

    Not up to your standards. I think Ryan is getting to you.

  3. Ryan does remind me a lot of a great interview i read, i think it was in Rolling Stone, with the chair of Newt's old history department. The Chair said something along the lines of "Newt is clever but not very intelligent, he doesn't really know what history is for." And it's true, Newt was a huge fraud in academia, he did no original research, published nothing and taught weird classes like "The History or the Future" whatever that is. I think Ryan is kinda similar, he styles himself this great economic mind who specializes in budgets but he doesn't seem to be particularly knowledgeable at all. For example, he is constantly saying that his plan to privatize medicare will lower costs and improve service even though when we tried that as a policy experiment with medicare advantage the result was worse outcomes and care at a higher cost than traditional medicare. Ryan strikes me more as a hard line ideologue, that is, he believes in his ideology no matter what evidence is presented to him and will keep holding to his ideology no matter what. In that sense, Ryan will always call his political opponents irresponsible no matter what and will attack them with whatever is at hand.

  4. Short answer: Yes, he believes it.

    Longer answer: But he doesn't understand what he is talking about, or what the consequences of his actions or proposals would be...or he doesn't care.

  5. Anyone here able to explain a little more fully just what it means, the difference between a budget and a budget resolution? Is a resolution just like a way of saying, "we're gonna try to stick to random number X", and if they don't pass it, oh well?

    1. There are bunches of budgets -- there's the president's budget that he submits in January, there's the Congressional budget resolution, and then there's whatever they wind up doing at the end of the year, which might or might not be in one piece, and which might itself have multiple iterations.

      The Congressional Budget Resolution is, first of all, not a law; it's a concurrent resolution. If it passes both Houses in the same form, then it becomes a set of instructions from Congress to Congress. It matters because it can contain reconciliation instructions (if something isn't in the budget resolution, it's not supposed to be able to be in a reconciliation bill, and without a budget resolution they aren't supposed to be able to do a reconciliation bill that year. It also generates, normally, instructions to Approps and it's subcommittees about what totals they're supposed to come to. It also instructs Ways & Means/Finance and other substantive committees to write changes to law to implement what the Budget Resolution says.

      But it isn't law, and it isn't binding.


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