Local Views: Congressman Ryan does not deserve praise from Gazette

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Tom Breu
Friday, December 27, 2013

Did you enjoy The Gazette’s editorial (Sunday, Dec 15), “Ryan does what he believes is best”? Rep. Paul Ryan and his remarkable budget agreement are applauded. Ryan’s said to be above the fray, concerned only about our country, a career politician not really interested in politics. Ryan’s bipartisanship is a new model for Congress to follow, and he deserves praise from the quiet majority of Americans.

What a guy!

Hold, please. Let’s clean The Gazette’s rose-colored glasses, purge some platitude, add some fact and maybe see a different reality.

The Murray-Ryan budget act saves $23 billion over 10 years. That’s the same amount the October federal government shutdown cost the economy. Since House Budget Chairman Ryan didn’t call for conference/reconciliation after the Senate budget passed March 23, Ryan arguably bears the most direct responsibility for the shutdown.

Ryan voted Oct. 19 for the first-ever federal default, and the GOP has been widely criticized for government by “manufactured crisis.” Does Ryan’s most recent action signify epiphany or gut reaction to avoid more blame?

Congressional approval is at an all-time low. As Republican star, Ryan deserves significant responsibility for this dysfunction, not high glory for keeping doors open.

In Ryan’s National Review Online piece Dec. 11, he recounts how the 2011 Simpson-Bowles super-committee failed, leaving us the sequester. He doesn’t mention his membership on that committee, nor his failure to do his job and reach consensus.

Newt Gingrich muses about the budget agreement (The Week, Dec 16), “I think this is mediocre policy and brilliant politics.” Ryan cries crisis, pushes worthless 75-year “Roadmap” projections and maps U.S. debt-to-GDP onto Greece (ignoring an actually relevant comparison with Japan). The Gazette thinks this isn’t politics?

Rep. Mark Pocan voted against the budget agreement for three reasons (Gazette 12/19): Sequester cuts weren’t rolled-back enough, nothing’s done to promote economic growth and costs don’t touch the wealthy. Is Pocan doing “what he believes is best”? Yes, he is, just like Ryan and the other 433 representatives. It’s called politics.

The media focus has been on Republican newfound cooperation. “In a divided government, you don’t get everything you want.” Suppose there’s nothing high-minded here, only self-serving expediency. Then, Ryan’s awful Machiavellian quote becomes, “In a unified government, with the Executive and both houses Republican, we’ll get everything we want.” No need, that government, for minority dialogue.

Today, Ryan distances himself from tea-party influence and Randian dollar worship. But he believes.

Ryan’s a dualist.

He splits Americans at every turn. Maker or taker. Capitalist or socialist. For America or against. It’s divisive on its face, crass oversimplification, and an indelible marker of Ryan’s true beliefs.

How else to understand his “empowerment” of the disadvantaged by denying them health insurance? How else to understand his “crude and na´ve” trust in the free market, which too often leaves the poor without possibilities (Pope Francis, TIME Magazine, Dec 23)?

We’re all Americans, even the minority without health insurance.

The budget agreement is bare-knuckled politics. Divide-and-conquer, that’s what Ryan believes is best.

Tom Breu of Janesville is treasurer of the Democratic Party of Rock County; website rockcountydems.org; phone 608-741-2020; email democraticpartyofrockcounty@gmail.com.

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