Paul Ryan

How Newt Gingrich screwed over the 2012 GOP nominee

Does Newt Gingrich know what he believes? It’s a serious question. The guy that is often seen as a leading intellectual behind the conservative movement and is hoping to be the Republican presidential nominee is sure making some big mistakes in his first week as a candidate.

Over the weekend, Gingrich slammed the budget plan presented by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) for “right-wing social engineering”:

Newt Gingrich’s appearance on “Meet the Press” today could leave some wondering which party’s nomination he is running for. The former speaker had some harsh words for Paul Ryan’s (and by extension, nearly every House Republican’s) plan to reform Medicare, calling it “radical.”

“I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering,” he said when asked about Ryan’s plan to transition to a “premium support” model for Medicare. “I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.”

As far as an alternative, Gingrich trotted out the same appeal employed by Obama/Reid/Pelosi — for a “national conversation” on how to “improve” Medicare, and promised to eliminate ‘waste, fraud and abuse,’ etc.

“I think what you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options,” Gingrich said. Ryan’s plan was simply “too big a jump.”

President Pyro and the Field of Straw Men

Eight hundred and fourteen days. That is how long it has taken me to lose my last shred of respect for the current President of the United States. Erupting onto the national political stage at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama was immediately praised as a rising star. A charismatic, well-spoken young politician, he clearly had a future in politics. A tall, lanky senator from Illinois, he drew comparisons to Abraham Lincoln. A black man that avoided being characterized as a black politician (as opposed to a politician who happens to be black), he avoided bombastic speeches about racism and reparations. He gave white Americans still harboring guilt over our ancestors’ participation in the evil of the human slave trade the chance to prove they were no longer racist by voting for him. His entire campaign was a nebulous celebration of “Hope and Change”. He was the post-racial, post-partisan candidate that as president would heal the divide between black and white, Republican and Democrat.

That was then, this is now.

Last month, having given speech after speech decrying the need for fiscal responsibility and the need to rein in the deficits and get the debt under control, President Obama unveiled a $3.7 trillion dollar federal budget that increased federal spending and projected (based on unrealistically optimistic growth rates for the next few years) $1.6 trillion in deficits for the year, with annual deficits averaging around $1 trillion over the next decade. It increased spending. It did nothing to control the largest contributors to the deficit and long term debt (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on the $14.2 trillion national debt). In short, the serious discussion he claimed to want regarding fiscal responsibility was nowhere to be found in his budget.

Some thoughts on the looming government shutdown

It looks like we’re only 10 to 12 hours away from a shut down of the federal government. Neither side has come to an agreement on what the final budget bill would look like, though it looks like another Continuing Resolution – a measure that would carry over spending from the previous year for a specified amount of time – will be taken up in the Senate. It passed the House yesterday with some Democratic members support it (Georgia Dems John Barrow and Sanford Bishop were among the affirmative votes).

Here are some thoughts and observations on the possible shutdown:

- If Republicans make this about social issues, as it is being suggested they are, they will take a hit. Republicans are right to object to taxpayer funding of abortion. However, social issues are not on the mind of the electorate. This angle, as principled as it may be, is a political loser. The focus should be on how Democrats and President Barack Obama cannot find any program worth cutting at a time when we are running a $1.6 trillion deficit.

- Republicans holding out for $31 billion in spending cuts is like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. As my good friend Doug Mataconis said today, wasting political capital on a short-term budget solution is pretty dumb. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) just presented an ambitious, though intriguing, budget plan that is going to take an enormous amount of political will and capital to push through, even if there are compromises along the way. Not to mention that the current budget fix only takes us through the end of the current fiscal year. The 2012 budget battle is next up and the ground work is just being laid into place.

Ryan Plan? Ho-hum!

So Paul Ryan announced his plan to balance the budget, cut trillions from proposed spending, and put America on a path to paying off the deficit.  Republicans around the country are hailing it as the second coming of Ronald Reagan, and Democrats continue to call any reasonable idea extreme.

Me?  I am not at all excited.

Let me explain.  Paul Ryan’s proposal continues to run a deficit for the next 26 years.  That means that even if the plan was adopted as is, and we know it won’t be, the best we can possibly hope for is a deficit that continues to swell for 26 more years before the first dollar is paid off.

Add to this that his projections also rely on unemployment reaching 3%, and you can quickly see that the the whole thing is just not that realistic.

I am glad that Representative Ryan has taken some leadership where there has been none, and I do not want to beat up on the guy, but this plan just isn’t enough.  It is time to get real.  And it is time to make some really tough choices.

We shouldn’t be looking at 26 years of additional deficits as the best we can do.

SOTU: Obama wants to cut deficit while “investing”

If you were looking for a substantive discussion of the problems facing the United States, last night’s State of the Union address was a let down.

President Barack Obama spent 62 minutes speaking in mostly generalities and explaining to us how great government spending is, but also warning the Congress that he will veto bills containing earmarks – special projects that are inserted into legislation that go bypass the normal budget process. President Obama also pledged to take measures to cut spending by enacting a five-year freeze on non-defense discretionary spending. While he may consider this to be some great feat, Obama’s proposal will only save $400 billion during that time. This is a drop in the bucket compared to the $6 trillion in budget deficits projected by the Congressional Budget Office.

Obama noted in his speech that non-defense discretionary spending represents a relatively small portion of the budget – around 12 percent, using his numbers, and added that “we have to stop pretending that cutting this kind of spending alone will be enough.”

State of the Union Live-Blog

Doug Mataconis, Brett Bittner, Mike Hassinger, Tom Knighton and Jason Pye will be live-blogging President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address and the Republican response given by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). We’ll kick things off around 8:30pm (EST).

Our friends at the Cato Institute are also live-blogging this evening.

You can full text of President Obama’s prepared speech here. Excerpts from Rep. Ryan’s speech are available here.

Welcome Instapundit readers!

Vote expected this week on ObamaCare

It looks like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will force a final vote on ObamaCare this week despite the fact that the public wants Washington focus on other priorities, such as jobs and the economy, and without the support of pro-life Democrats. The House Budget Committee released the 2,309 page bill on its website last night and a final vote is expected by Sunday.

President Barack Obama even delayed an overseas trip by a few days in anticipation of the vote. No doubt he will be involved in the arm twisting of on-the-fence members.

Some Republicans, such as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), are warning that reconciliation shouldn’t be the focus of the opposition against the bill because if the House passes the Senate version, it’s game, set, match. If you want to get an idea of the process that will take place, check out this post from Jamie Dupree.

Reforms, not Bailout or Bankruptcy, Prevail in Puerto Rico Legislation


After a long public debate over what Congress should do to address the current debt and financial crisis in Puerto Rico, free market oriented reforms have won the day. While the government of the Commonwealth requested, and our Obama Administration supported, Chapter 9 bankruptcy, many Republicans in Congress and grass-roots citizen groups opposed that and argued for reforms in Puerto Rico instead. The legislation released in Congress clearly is on the side of reform and doesn’t include or enable bankruptcy.

The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), introduced by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) as well as Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) will create an Oversight Board to assist the Commonwealth in enacting reforms and reign in their out of control welfare state as well as managing their debts. The legislation does not contain any bailout provision nor does it provide for or allow Chapter 9 bankruptcy. PROMESA will bring order to the chaos in Puerto Rico, prevent a catastrophic humanitarian crisis, and will build a foundation for prosperity in the Commonwealth, and ensure its access to capital markets.

Puerto Rico has accumulated more than $118 billion in debt from bonds and unfunded pension liabilities. The government has been unable to manage this debt and has already begun defaulting on its repayment. On July 1, the Commonwealth is likely to default on an additional $2 billion in debt that includes $800 million of constitutionally backed debt.

Just what we need: Flights even more pricey due to asinine bipartisan blunder. Thanks, Congress!

Shortly after House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) reached a budget deal in December with his Senate counterpart, Patty Murray (D-WA), he declared that the agreement “reduces the deficit — without raising taxes.” Well, that depends on your definition of a tax.

Thanks to the Ryan-Murray budget deal, the fee tax passengers pay to fly to fund the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) — known as the “September 11th security fee” — more than doubled on Monday, from $2.50 to $5.60 per one-way flight:

The current fee is $2.50 for a non-stop flight or $5 for a connecting flight. The new fee will be $5.60 for all flights, with any connection longer than four hours counting as a separate flight.
Congress agreed to the increase in December to raise $12.6 billion to cut the deficit. TSA estimates the hike will generate $16.9 billion more than current collections.

“In accordance with federal law, the revenue generated from the security fee will be deposited in the general fund of the Treasury,” said David Castelveter, a TSA spokesman. “The revenue is to be used to offset TSA costs for providing civil aviation security services, after stipulated amounts are applied to reduction of the federal deficit.”

Defiant IRS Commissioner feels the wrath of Paul Ryan

Commissioner John Koskinen

Moral indignation is one of the most powerful motivators in politics. To show moral outrage over injustice can move people to action and win supporters to your cause. One famous example is Ronald Reagan’s Nashua moment at a Republican Primary debate in New Hampshire in 1980.

Candidate Reagan paid the production costs of hosting a primary debate with every Republican candidate for President. When the moderator attempted to cut Reagan off, Reagan stood up, visibly morally indignant, and firmly stated, “I’m paying for this microphone!” to wild applause from the audience.

In the wake of IRS officials claiming to have lost more than two years worth of emails from Lois Lerner and six other IRS officials to outside agencies and individuals, House Republicans have had enough… and it’s starting to show.

Earlier today at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan took IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to task for his agency’s response to lost emails.

“You can reach into the lives of hardworking taxpayers, and with a phone call, an email, or a letter, you can turn their lives upside-down,” Ryan exclaimed. “You ask taxpayers to hand us seven years of their personal tax information in case they’re ever audited, and you can’t keep six months of employee emails?!”

Ryan continued, “This is a pattern of abuse, a pattern of behavior that is not giving us any confidence that this agency is being impartial. I don’t believe you. This is incredible.”

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