There is no crisis

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chairman of the House Budget Committee, says here that (paraphrasing) “Gee, if we don’t get our national debt and entitlements under control, it’ll be a disaster and grandma and grandpa and your kids will all starve!” He made similar statements for NPR on February 14th:

You know, that’s the thing is this budget is so out of control on spending and taxing that I’m really disappointed in it. I was really hoping that the president would show some reforms that can get our debt under control. Instead, what we have is 1.6 trillion in new tax increases, 8.7 trillion in new spending. He’s going to be adding 13 trillion to the debt over the course of his budget. And that to me is very dangerous, because this is accelerating our trajectory toward a debt crisis versus taking on the issue.

The president even appointed a fiscal commission last year to deal with these issues, yet he rejected any of the major reforms recommended in the fiscal commission.

Now keep in mind that just a few months ago, the President agreed to keep the Bush tax cuts in place for those making over $200,000 a year. If there really was some sort of crisis, why are the wealthy being permitted to keep their 2001 windfall? Sorry, but I just don’t buy all this talk of crisis. As a liberal Keynesian economist puts it:

Investors are willing to lend the United States trillions of dollars at historically low interest rates. This means that the government is not broke. There is no evidence that it is coming up against any serious spending or borrowing limitation.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that Congressman Ryan voted for Medicare Part D and TARP, major budget-busting programs that the Congresses at the time saw no need to make any sort of plan to pay for, so it’s obvious that his fiscal sobriety and seriousness is a new-found thing.Oh, and Ryan’s attitude towards the protests in his home state over the Governor’s draconian plans to deprive state workers of their ability to collectively bargain?

“It’s like Cairo has moved to Madison these days,” he said, adding that “people should be able to express their way, but we’ve got to get this deficit and debt under control in Madison, if we want to have a good business climate and job creation in Wisconsin.”

Natcherly, when I hear that Wisconsin has become like Cairo, I tend to think of that as a good thing! And yes, the “crisis” in Wisconsin was “ginned up.” There is no crisis nationally and there’s no crisis in Wisconsin, either. Problem is, in terms of tactics, Republicans are just plain running circles around the hapless President and his team and Congressional Democrats.

The problem is that the Republicans want to lay this off on the president so they can have it both ways by saying he didn’t do enough [to cut spending] while their shadowy corporate supporters under Citizens United demagogue the cuts to senior citizens, thus insuring they will come out to vote against Obama in huge numbers. The president, on the other hand, needs the GOP to jump off the cliff with him so they can share the blame. What do you suppose the odds of the latter happening are?

Obama seems to be preparing the way for a Grand Bargain, which seems a pretty sure bet to end up being a lose-lose situation, where the President gets hammered no matter what he does.

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