How Do Republicans Deal With The Sequestration Issue?
Yesterday on Face the Nation Paul Ryan (R-WI) showed how Republicans are dealing with the inherent contradictions of their anti-sequestration rants, demonstrating for a national TV audience why his post-Convention nickname, "Lyin' Ryan," has spread like wildfire and why many observers already consider him a worse VP nominee than Sarah Palin was! We'll come back to sequestration in a moment. First let's look at the gestalt of the mistake Romney made by allowing Wall Street to force Ryan down his throat.
With Palin, the burbling celebration curdled into buyer’s remorse within a few weeks after the Republican convention. With Ryan, that same emotion has taken hold among Republican insiders two weeks before their convention.
Ryan voted for just about everything George W. Bush wanted. He was even a supporter of Bush’s plan to turn Social Security over to Wall Street, three years before the worst stock market crash in half a century. In Congress, Ryan only passed two inconsequential bills of his own. Though he didn’t want to admit it, he sought stimulus funds for his district. Ryan is one of the few members of Congress who actually has less foreign affairs experience than Mitt Romney does.
...Paul Ryan is only famous for one thing: his budget. A budget that many Republicans are already running from. The Ryan budget passed the House twice in slightly different forms, but both included massive cuts to all government programs in order to pay for new tax breaks, mostly for the richest. This plan represents exactly the kind of extremism that turns off swing voters. And now voters in every Congressional district in America will have a chance to say what they think about the Ryan plan. The ideal running mate doesn’t give voters something to vote against.
Although Palin (like Ryan) originally supported the “Bridge to Nowhere,” at least she had no federal legislative record that her opponents could dissect.
The most controversial part of Ryan’s budget-- which has already cost the GOP a marginal House seat-- is his plan to shrink Medicare into a “premium support” model that gives seniors a fixed voucher to purchase health insurance. The first version of the plan would cost seniors around $6,000 more a year than current Medicare. The corresponding Medicaid cuts would strand millions of seniors who use the program to pay for Medicare deductibles and nursing homes.
Is this really what Mitt wants to be talking about? Today he brought out a white board to explain how he’d save Medicare for current and future generations. By repealing Obamacare and its savings, however, he would make Medicare insolvent by the end of his first term.
If you’re a Republican talking about Medicare in a general election, you’re probably losing. McCain never had to go there.
There's more but let's get to sequestration. Yesterday on his disastrous Meet The Press appearance, Romney slammed 174 congressional Republicans, including Ryan, for supporting sequestration in the Budget Control Act, calling it a “mistake.” [Among the Republicans who, like Ryan, voted for sequestration-- only 66 Republicans voted NO-- are dozens facing tough reelection challenges this year, like Charlie Bass and Frank Guinta of New Hampshire, vulnerable Californians Brian Bilbray, Buck McKeon, Dan Lungren, Jeff Denham, Mary Bono Mack, and Ed Royce, shaky New York Republicans Michael Grimm, Tom Reed, Richard Hanna, Chris Gibson and Nan Hayworth, and scattered hypocritical crackpots Mike Coffman (CO), Joe Pitts (PA), Steve Stivers (OH), David McKinley (WV), Mike Rogers (MI), David Rivera (FL), Allen West (FL), and Patrick McHenry (NC)-- as well as Rick Berg who's running for the Montana Senate seat. Virtually all the Blue Dogs as well as Democratic corporatist hacks like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Steve Israel and Steny Hoyer voted with the GOP and the Progressive Caucus opposed it, as did Romney Republican nemesis Todd Akin.]
So... yesterday on Meet The Press Romney threw everyone overboard while up the dial on Face the Nation Ryan was... well, just lying again. Ryan tried confusing viewers with the kind of empty verbiage that works in GOP circles, though nowhere else. Shockingly, he denied that he ever voted for the cuts, telling an incredulous Norah O’Donnell that he didn’t actually vote for the cuts he’s on record as voting for:
O’DONNELL: Now you’re criticizing the President for those same defense cuts you’re voting for and called a victory.
RYAN: No, no-- I have to correct on you this, Norah. I voted for a mechanism that says the sequester will occur if we don’t cut $1.2 trillion in government. … We can get into this nomenclature; I voted for the Budget Control Act. But the Obama Administration proposed $478 billion in defense cuts. We don’t agree with that, our budget rejected that, and then on top of that is another $500 billion in defense cuts in the sequester.
O’DONNELL: Right. A trillion dollars in defense spending, and you voted for it!
RYAN: No, Norah. I voted for the Budget Control Act.
O’DONNELL: That included defense spending!
RYAN: Norah, you’re mistaken.
O’Donnell is, in fact, not mistaken. The Budget Control Act, as passed, included both the roughly $600 billion in “sequestration” cuts that will happen if there’s no compromise on the budget by December as well as the $487 billion of military-supported cuts that will take place regardless. The fact that Ryan may have wished that the bill didn’t contain said defense cuts does not absolve him of the fact that he and 201 other Republicans voted for the bill as-passed.
Moreover, Ryan’s statement after voting for the bill contained not a single word of criticism about the defense cuts. As O’Donnell correctly noted, Ryan said the bill “represents a victory for those committed to controlling government spending and growing our economy” and that “The agreement-- while far from perfect-- underscores the extent to which the new House majority has successfully changed Washington’s culture of spending.” It’s at best misleading, and at worst an outright lie, for Ryan to assert that voting for the Budget Control Act did not mean voting for defense cuts.
Lyin' Ryan is all about smoke and mirrors and creating confusion so ordinary voters don't understand the issue. And he's urging the 174 Republicans who voted for sequestration-- many because he told them to-- to follow his lead. More serious-minded people aren't. A George Mason University study indicates that up to 2.14 million jobs could be lost if sequestration takes effect on January 1. Dishonest Republicans like-- good example-- Buck McKeon now resort to hysterics trying to take military funding out of the legislation that he voted for, but not trying to avoid job cuts for working families. He's trying to avoid profit cuts for America's big arms manufacturers, their CEOs, and their shareholders. McKeon's ignorant claims that President Obama is doing nothing to avoid these cuts, fails to take into account McKeon voted for this and sent it to the President's desk. But, McKeon has a plan. He wants to cut $1 trillion from Medicare and Social Security to fund his special wars and weapons systems that even the Pentagon doesn't want. His opponent, Dr. Lee Rogers, has been hitting him hard on his foolish behavior.
"I hate it when a politician says one thing and does another," Rogers told us this morning. "Rep. Buck McKeon claims to be fighting sequestration, but he voted for it as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011. The George Mason University economic impact survey predicts 225,000 job losses in California alone. That means, Congressman Buck McKeon voted to cut your job, but he wants to keep his. Time and time again, Congress has failed to do its job. If we lose jobs in our district, you can consider that pink slip signed by Buck McKeon. I will stand up for working families in our district. I won't let our big corporations or our government take advantage of them and I would never let Medicare be sacrificed at the hands of war profiteers."
Progressives like Rogers and the other candidates Blue America is supporting weren't in Congress in 2011 when Ryan and McKeon and almost all the Republicans and ConservaDems in the House voted for sequestration. Who opposed it though? 95 Democrats led by Progressive Caucus co-chair Raúl Grijalva who has endorsed Lee Rogers and many of our other candidates. Raúl understands that the only way forward to solving the country's problems is by electing honest and sincere legislators who will stand up for ordinary working families, not for the special interests that dominate both parties' Beltway leaderships.