Pay No Attention To The Latest Paul Ryan Budget
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his latest budget plan yesterday. As expected, it proposes to reduce appropriations below what was agreed to in the debt ceiling deal -- the Budget Control Act -- last August, cut taxes, and make major changes in Medicare.
The Ryan plan is no more of a serious budget than was the budget the White House released in February. And just like the Obama budget, what Ryan released is nothing more than a re-election document that some Republicans will use repeatedly on the campaign trail through November to shore up the base.
The Ryan-proposed budget supposedly will be approved by the full House Budget Committee today. It will then go to the House floor where it will be angrily denounced by House Democrats and, although the vote is likely to be closer than you would guess given the GOP majority, passed.
At that point the Ryan/GOP fiscal 2013 House-passed budget resolution will be magically and immediately transformed from a fiscal policy proposal to a campaign document. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has already said that the Senate will not debate a budget resolution this year so what the House does will not be considered by anyone else and will instead appear in campaign documents everyone.
The Ryan plan creates some significant political opportunities and problems for the GOP.
The primary opportunity is that it plays to the tea party base and will be used to demonstrate time and time again over the next eight months that the GOP hasn't abandoned them.
The problems are far more numerous.
1. No matter what Ryan says about Medicare, his proposal will be very unpopular with almost everyone except the tea partiers.
2. The tea party wing is virtually certain to demand that the Ryan plan be part of the GOP platform that is approved by the convention this summer. Anything less will be viewed as a retreat by whoever the Republican presidential candidate may be and that could lead to the kind of floor fight at the convention that political parties desperately try to avoid.
3. The plan may be popular with the base, but it will be a big problem for the moderate Republicans and independents the GOP will need to have any success in the election.
4. The lower-than-approved-last-August spending level in the Ryan plan makes a showdown on a continuing resolution and the threat of a government shutdown in September almost inevitable. That will create a huge political problem for GOP candidates at every level if Republicans are blamed yet again for another budget-related Perils of Pauline-like situation. It could be a abject disaster for the GOP if a shutdown occurs or is narrowly avoided and it then has to spend the month before the election explaining its actions. A shutdown that lasts for more than a week at that point could cost the GOP the House, Senate, and White House.
Here's what I said yesterday on NPR about the Ryan plan. Tamara Keith was the reporter.