We know that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) frequently argues that a "debt crisis" threatens to destroy civilization as we know it. We also know he doesn't mean it.
It's a fairly straightforward case, actually. Not only does Ryan's budget plan rely on deficit financing to pay for more tax cuts in the coming decades, the right-wing lawmaker is also suddenly against spending cuts, too.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has introduced legislation to replace $1.2 trillion in across-the-board discretionary spending cuts required by last summer's deal to raise the debt ceiling.The effort is a bid to prevent $600 billion in defense cuts that both parties argue would reduce U.S. national security. The defense cuts were supposed to pressure a supercommittee of lawmakers to find alternative cuts in the budget, but that panel failed to come up with a plan.Ryan's Sequester Replacement Act, H.R. 4966, would eliminate language in last year's Budget Control Act that requires the cuts, known as the "sequester."
I suspect for many of you, words like "sequester," "triggers," and "supercommittee" immediately make your eyes glaze over. But Ryan's bill says a great deal about Republican lawmakers' approach to fiscal responsibility.
Let's consider a quick review of how we got to this point, because, looking at this step by step, makes clear who's being responsible and who's not.
Step 1: As part of the debt-ceiling crisis, congressional Republicans said they would crash the economy, on purpose, unless Democrats agreed to a massive debt-reduction agreement.
Step 2: Dems accepted $900 billion in debt reduction, on top of another $1.2 trillion agreement to be worked out by the so-called supercommittee. To ensure both sides would take the process seriously, the parties created incentives: if no bipartisan deal is reached, automatic cuts would be triggered, with Republicans accepting $600 billion in defense cuts and Dems accepting $600 billion in non-defense domestic cuts.
Step 3: The supercommittee failed when Republicans refused to compromise. The parties were told they had until the end of the year to find $1.2 trillion in savings or the automatic cuts would kick in.
Step 4: Paul Ryan introduced a bill to make the automatic cuts Republicans said they wanted go away.
All of this, by the way, comes on the heels of House Republicans arguing that they want all of the Bush-era tax breaks to be made permanent -- and they have no intention of even trying to pay for them.
Anyone who still thinks GOP policymakers have the high ground on fiscal responsibility clearly isn't paying close enough attention.