Thursday, January 06, 2011

How Do You Spell Hypocrisy? Three Letters, Starting With G, Ending With P


In the run-up to the election Wall Street favorite son Paul Ryan was all over the media caterwauling about how he and his party were going to cut $100 billion from the federal budget. Despite Ryan's sad first tweet of the new year yesterday (above), coming in the midst of a frenzy of reports that the Party leadership had told him to pipe down and get real if he wants his deemed and passed rule, you won't be hearing much about that nice round Randian number going forward.
House Republicans are backing away from their pledge to cut $100 billion from the federal budget.

...House Republicans promised to cut the budget by at least $100 billion in their “Pledge to America,” published in September. The pledge was intended to signal to voters what House Republicans would do if they won a majority in Congress.

A spokesman for the House Budget Committee said the GOP remains committed to the pledge, but that a different benchmark for making cuts will have to be used since Democrats did not approve a budget.

“Last year, House Republicans pledged to bring non-security discretionary spending back to 2008 levels. We estimated savings at that time relative to President Obama’s proposed fiscal blueprint due to the fact that Democrats in Congress offered no budget with which to compare. House Republicans remain committed to fulfilling their pledge; this has not changed,” House Budget Committee majority spokesman Conor Sweeney said.

“Unfortunately, Democrats refused to take action and oversaw an unprecedented breakdown in the budget process, with stopgap spending bills that provide a different benchmark than President Obama's initial fiscal plan. House Republicans will continue to work to reduce spending for the final six months of this fiscal year-- bringing non-security discretionary spending back to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels-- yielding taxpayers significant savings and starting a new era of cost-cutting in Washington,” he added.

Incoming House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told NBC's Today show Wednesday that he was not ready to release the exact spending cuts for 2011, which he will have the power to set himself.

“I can't tell you by what amount ... but it will all be coming down,” he said.

Democrats seized on the $100 billion figure as an example of the GOP backing off its campaign manifesto.

“It’s now clear that the House Republicans’ pledges aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on as they start breaking them before even being sworn in,” said Jesse Ferguson of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. 

Components of the Republican coalition-- and the lobbyists who represent them-- are getting nervous about whose oxen may be gored in this process. Taking health care from old sick people and children and minorities is one thing but taking away any of the gravy from he corporate gravy train... lobbyists know plenty of Democrats who want their money too-- and who have proven just as corrupt and craven as Republicans.

Earlier this morning we referred to plummeting transportation and construction stocks due to Republican announcements of plans to cut federal infrastructure programs. NPR's Marketplace focused in on the specifics by interviewing Pete Ruane is the president of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.
House Republicans pledge to bring the federal budget down to 2008 levels. But on the rare occasions when they say how they'll do that, even traditional allies have objected. For example, the Republican caucus voted yesterday to make transportation projects subject to cuts. That sparked an immediate reaction from construction and rail industries. Pete Ruane is the president of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

PETE RUANE: Cutting this kind of spending, in this environment, is against the interests of the business community, is against the interests of economic recovery and is poor public policy.

Ruane went further on his organization's PAC's website:
"Thirteen years ago, Congressional Republicans and Democrats alike voted overwhelmingly to provide budgetary guarantees that ensured all federal gas and diesel tax user fee revenue collected for the Highway Trust Fund would be invested exclusively and in a timely manner in state highway, bridge and transit improvements. Today, House Republicans behind closed doors, in a secret ballot, unilaterally rescinded those guarantees as part of their new House rules package. This is a reversion back to the budget gimmicks of the past that allows the Highway Trust Fund balance to be used to hide the true size of the federal deficit.

"The real life implication of this action is that it injects further uncertainty into the already reeling U.S. transportation construction market where unemployment is in excess of 18 percent-- twice the national average. Long-term transportation plans and projects require stable, predictable funding. With multi-year reauthorization of the federal highway and transit programs now more than 15 months overdue, this sends the wrong signal to the states and Wall Street."
Not Boehner or Bachmann or Issa, it's imbecile & Wall Street shill Paul Ryan who will destroy our country

Those are fighting words, fighting words from a corner Republicans count on. Krugman wrote last night that the Republicans' "lack of seriousness was totally obvious."
You had the Ryan plan, which claimed to reduce the deficit but, if you actually looked into it at all, relied completely on magic asterisks; you had the declarations by top Republicans that deficits are terrible but there’s no need to offset the cost of tax cuts.

The idea that these people were allowed to pose as deficit hawks is stunning.

Oh, and for those claiming that Republicans have always said that spending, not deficits is what matters: first of all, this is very much revisionist history; you can’t denounce the federal debt, then claim that you never cared about the revenue side of things. Beyond that, the deficit scare tactics lately have been all about solvency, not mere crowding out; repent, they said, or you’ll turn into Greeeeeece. That’s a scare story about solvency, for which the deficit, not spending, is what matters.

Why the blindness? I suspect a lot of it had to do with the desire to seem balanced. Journalists felt that they had to find Republican fiscal heroes, just to show how even-handed and open-minded they were. To say that the whole deficit thing was a political ploy, with no substance behind it, sounded shrill.

The truth often does.

And backing away from a promise they made, with their fingers firmly crossed behind their backs, to cut $100 billion or a million gazillion dollars from the budget isn't the only thing voters-- and teabaggers-- will soon recognize they were lying about-- not by a longshot. Teabagger leaders' opinions are are ready being set in cement, which would be of grave concern to the Republican Establishment if it was paying attention or if it thought that in the end the teabaggers were anything more than could be turned on and off by GOP operatives like Beck, Hannity and the Koch Bros. “I actually don’t think it would be possible to fall from grace any faster than this,” Mark Meckler, with the Tea Party Patriots, told the Daily Caller.

In fact, all their cynical promises to reform this and reform that were bullshit. I wonder how many of them will be playing video games and IM-ing their mistresses while the Constitution is being read at the opening session today. Even simple things, like the rule that would have required all Members to publicly post committee attendance is going up in smoke. Louie Gohmert popped his head out of his garbage can Tuesday after dark to propose a rules amendment that specifically gives Republicans a way to duck accountability-- and spend committee meeting time with lobbyists and donors. Gohmert's amendment passed.

And all that crying Boehner was doing about openness? He was just kidding. Yesterday the AP reported that [f]lexing its newfound muscles, the incoming GOP majority is preparing to break its own new rules next week when it votes, without hearings or a chance to make changes, to cancel Obama's signature health care law. "It's not like we haven't litigated this for over a year," Boehner said Tuesday. Remember this from way, way, way back on January 5th? #3 House Turd Kevin McCarthy on CNN's State of the Union: "Bills won't be written in the back of the room, where the bills have to be laid out for 72 hours, where bills actually have an open rule, where people can bring amendments up on the floor, which any freshman congressman that's sitting there today has never even seen that happen under the rule of Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats." He might as well have promised that everyone would also get a pet unicorn and an ice-cream cone with magic flavors that make your dreams come true. And they can watch this while they lick their cones; it's quite astounding in light of their takeover yesterday:

Oops... almost forgot, the DCCC has consistently protected Ryan's career. He's never had a serious challenge, not once, despite the fact that his district voted for Obama and that many of Wisconsin's most prominent Democratic politicians live in it and represent many of the same constituents he does. Corporate hack and former Blue Dog, Steve Israel, will be as determined as Rahm Emanuel was to make sure Ryan keeps his seat. And, inexplicably, he's the new chairman of the DCCC. Blue America is attempting to do the DCCC's job for them. They won't recruit a credible candidate... so we're trying. If you'd like to help attend to one of the worst dangers facing the country we love, you can so it at the Stop Paul Ryan page. We can use whatever help you can afford this early on.

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