GOP & Paul Ryan: The party of no answer.

Posted on April 11, 2011

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In September 2006, the House of Representatives passed what they called earmark reform. The legislation was co-authored by Congressman Paul Ryan.  The legislation was meant to require lawmakers to identify the special projects that they slip into legislation.  Now Ryan is trying to play a track from his greatest hits album by proposing almost identical “reforms” for the 2012 federal budget, but his plan falls far short on anything resembling details of what and how he would reform anything.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities exposed the double standards of Ryan’s 2006 bill because it exempted a ludicrous number of earmarks depending on how they are packaged. For example:

  1. Any tax cut or tax break that benefits as few as two individuals or entities are fully exempt from this “earmark reform” legislation.
  2. Elected officials that sponsored such earmarks may remain anonymous.
  3. The 2006 House-passed line-item veto legislation, also co-sponsored by Ryan, provided a litany of line-item exemptions for special interest groups;
  4. The legislation provided more than six dozen new individual tax breaks for special interest groups and their corporate sponsors.
  5. Ryan also included several loopholes providing that any legislation not reported by a committee should be exempt from the restrictions and rules in Ryan’s legislation. Ryan’s plan proposed that any legislation created on the floor as a “manager’s amendment” or any “emergency, circumstantial or contingency bill” that is brought to the floor by the Leadership would also be exempt from the rules.

This same type of special treatment for tax cuts is part of a very easily recognizable pattern for Ryan and the Republicans and they are marching to the exact same drummer in 2011 that they marched to in 2006.

And would you care to guess what document Ryan used as the basis for his new 2012 budget proposal?  If you said “the same corporate and lobbyist pandering that he used in 2006,” you get an “A.”

For a party that is so “personally indignant and offended” by the concept of wealth redistribution, Ryan and his intentionally blind followers are certainly comfortable with the concept of weath FUNNELING.

If Paul Ryan were really concerned about the practice of anonymous earmarks, then why would he leave so many loopholes in his 2006 proposal in the first place?  And why does he abjectly refuse to answer the simple questions of “Which specific loopholes do you plan to eliminate” and “Are you adding any other loopholes, exceptions or contingencies in your new proposal?”

When asked on “The Today Show” by Meredith Viera: “You say discretionary spending — give me specifics. Where are you going to cut? Are you gonna cut transportation, education, Medicare — what are you going to cut?”

Ryan’s answer was: “I can’t tell you the answer to that because, as a budget committee person, we simply lower the cap and then those things go down. I can’t tell you by what amount and which program, but all of it is going to be going down, and the aggregate amount will be back to 2008 levels before the spending binge occurred.”

*Before* the spending binge? What I can only assume Ryan meant was that “before it became known that George W. Bush never included one single dime of the spending on Iraq and Afghanistan in any budget he ever proposed, so the $2.2 Trillion mis-spent and mismanaged for six years suddenly appeared on the debt rolls in 2009 when Obama made them public knowledge and part of the acknowledged debt instead of hiding it in undisclosed appropriations packages the way Bush did.”

Apparently, the Republican history revision plan includes utter dismissal of the $3.6 Trillion that the Bush administration deficit-spent between 2001 and 2009.

Why does Ryan’s plan intention ignore any of the following:

  1. Ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and returning all troops to U.S. soil;
  2. The concept or implementation of a flat tax;
  3. Rolling all tax cuts to 2000-levels, or even to the 1990s levels which spawned the decade of prosperity that followed;
  4. Elimination of all subsidies, tax breaks, rebates and shelters for corporations, offshore tax havens, etc.;
  5. Elimination of the hedge/equity fund tax loophole.

Why does Ryan’s plan not mention one single word about cutting Defense and Pentagon spending, federal contract fraud, increased oversight and regulation, or calendar-year accounting of all federal spending?

These, certainly more than teacher benefits, contributed to the current debt and fiscal instability in America. But Ryan avoids them like a Bronx bake sale.

Even ranking and freshman members of his own party acknowledge that Ryan’s plan is dismally devoid of details, and dismiss Ryan’s refusal to discuss specifics as “just good political strategy.”

Why be so secretive about what is clearly the most grave issue facing the country, its taxpayers and its future?  Why be completely evasive in response to the simple and legitimate question of “How do you plan to do it?”

The deafening silence is like a concerto of Paul Ryan’s and his backers’ true intentions: Politics and career first; corporate welfare second; country last.

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