Too often conservatives assume that the wisdom of their policies (e.g., don’t raise taxes in a recession) will carry the day. However, the need to explain the rationale for one’s views is essential in maintaining public support and keeping the base engaged. And so far, Republican leaders on the Hill have been so busy trying to craft a deal that they haven’t had time to explain why raising taxes isn’t a “balanced” approach and why the amount of the debt limit increase should be at least matched by spending cuts. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) fills that void. At the House Budget Committee Web site he explains:
While President Obama has recently professed a newfound — and vague — desire to cut government spending, it’s useful to recall what the President has actually done since taking office in 2009. The President signed into law a massive spending spree that plunged us deeper into debt, and failed to deliver on its promise to create jobs.
•24% Increase in Base Spending. Non-defense discretionary spending grew by 24% for the first two years of the Obama Administration, adding $734 billion in spending over the next 10 years.
•Record Government Spending. The Federal government will spend $3.6 trillion this year, 24% of gross domestic product (GDP) and the highest burden on the economy since World War II. Spending has historically averaged a little over 20% of GDP.
•President’s Budget Makes Matter Worse. According to CBO, the President’s budget never spends less than 23% of GDP and by the end of the decade rises to 24% of GDP. His budget’s failure to address the drivers of our debt threatens the health and retirement security of America’s seniors, and the economic security of all Americans. The President’s budget seeks to spend $46 trillion in government spending over the next decade, and has subsequently fought against House Republican efforts to restrain his spending appetite down to $43.5 trillion.
•Lip Service Provided When Leadership is Needed. Embarrassed by the fundamental unseriousness of his budget, the President responded to the fiscal leadership demonstrated by House Republicans with a partisan speech describing a “Framework” for reducing the deficit. Despite repeated requests for details, his rhetoric has still not been backed up with substance that would allow independent analysis of his claims. In fact, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf testified, “We don’t estimate speeches. We need much more specificity than was provided in that speech for us to do our analysis.”
Ryan reiterates what House and Senate Republicans have been complaining about: “During the daily deficit talks the President has been hosting at the White House, the President has yet to offer any real spending reductions that would result in meaningful changes to our nation’s fiscal path. Until the President publicly offers a detailed spending reduction plan, all we can judge him on is his record.”
He then takes us through the numbers, which make clear that Obama has run up the bill and now wants the taxpayers to pick up the check. (“Democrats’ appropriation bills increased non-defense discretionary spending by nearly 25 percent – an 84 percent increase when you include the stimulus. The Republican House took the lead in bringing an end to this out-of-control spending and reduced non-defense discretionary spending by 7 percent.”)
He makes a critical point: The president says everything should be on the table, but Obama’s pet ideas aren’t. “The President has refused to put on the table the trillions of dollars in new spending from his health care law. The President has refused to revisit his high-speed rail boondoggles or the array of special interest ‘green energy’ spending projects. After adding trillions of dollars in new spending since he first took office, the President’s only specific policy demand is to raise taxes on American families to pay for Washington’s profligacy.”
Ryan is often the indispensable man for the Republicans, explaining in a clear and concise way the current state of our finances and how to undo the damage of runaway spending. Once it is laid out, the Republicans’ position becomes far more persuasive; Shouldn’t we undo the rampant spending before we even think about raising taxes in an economy this weak?