Paul Ryan

Biggest Stories of 2013: The Republican Surrender Act of 2013

Throughout New Year’s Eve, we’ll be going through the 10 biggest political stories of 2013 as selected by United Liberty’s contributors. Don’t forget to chime in on the biggest stories of the year on our Facebook page.

Republicans won a hard fought debt ceiling battle in 2011, getting $1.2 trillion in reductions in spending over the course of 10 years. The spending cuts were hailed by supporters as one of the biggest achievements for fiscal conservatives in several years.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) passed both the House of Representatives and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, including votes from Pelosi and Reid, and was signed into law by President Barack Obama.

But before those bipartisan cuts even kicked in, Republicans began retreating from them, and, in the process, blew their messaging on the need for lower spending and deficit reduction. Why? They wanted to restore some of the defense spending cuts mandated by the BCA, because they wanted to protect crony contractors from cutbacks.

Paul Ryan could chair tax-writing committee in next Congress

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) wants to serve as the next chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the powerful tax-writing committee, when the next Congress is seated in 2015, according to Politico:

Paul Ryan will seek to become the next chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, a move that would bring instant star power to the cause of tax reform while complicating his presidential ambitions.

The House Budget Committee chairman intends to replace Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) when term-limit restrictions force Camp to step down in 2015, Ryan told The Wall Street Journal.

“That is my plan,” he said in an interview with the newspaper.
[…]
The move would give Ryan, his party’s 2012 vice presidential candidate and perhaps the most popular Republican in Congress, a prime perch to pursue his long-standing interest in tax and entitlement reform. That could bring a jolt of energy to the push to overhaul the tax code for the first time in a generation, an effort led by Camp that has foundered amid widespread ambivalence among rank-and-file lawmakers.

If Ryan takes on tax reform in earnest, the move may also signal Ryan is not planning on running for president in 2016.

Ryan was term-limited from serving as chairman of the Budget Committee after the last Congress, but he was given a waiver that allowed him to stick around for one more term.

Republicans talking tough about debt ceiling

In the midst of a complete surrender over the hard-fought spending cuts in the bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2011, congressional Republicans are talking out loud about making demands to raise the debt ceiling in the spring.

For example, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who brokered the budget deal with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), noted over the weekend that House Republicans “don’t want ‘nothing’ out of the debt limit” and would “decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt limit fight.” He later indicated that one potential trade off could be approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) doubted that Congress would approve a clean debt ceiling hike. “I think the debt ceiling legislation is a time that brings us all together and gets the president’s attention, which with this president, particularly when it comes to reducing spending, has been a bit of a challenge,” said McConnell this week, according to Politico.

The deal reached during the government shutdown funded the government until January 15 and raised the debt ceiling to February 7. With the budget issue almost certainly out of the way, assuming the Senate passes it, the focus in Congress will be on the debt ceiling.

John Boehner gives Chris Matthews a thrill up his leg

Chris Matthews

Chris Matthews has found a new politician to adore, at least for now. The MSNBC Hardball host opened his show on Monday evening with a rant about the Tea Party and heaped praise on Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) for pushing the budget deal through the House, despite vocal opposition from conservatives in and outside of Congress.

Matthews host compared conservatives to whining kids riding and complaining the back seat of a car on a long trip. “That’s the kid’s job, just sit back there blaming and complaining,” he said in his usual angry disposition.

“Well, the speaker of the House, who spent the last months and years speaking for the kids in the back of the car, spoke like a grownup and said, I’ll drive the car, but I’m not going to drive a crazy car, damn it. I’m the speaker of the House. I’m second in line to the American presidency, not the Mad Hatter of the Tea Party. That’s what he said,” Matthews added.

Paul Ryan: Budget opponents are “very important elements of our conservative family”

Paul Ryan

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) sought to smooth things over with conservative groups on the budget deal he struck with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) in a pre-recorded appearance with on NBC’s Meet the Press, saying that the groups are “very important elements of our conservative family.”

Ryan’s comments came after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) blasted conservative groups on Wednesday and Thursday for opposing the budget agreement before it was formally released, telling reporters that they’ve “lost all credibility.”

“I think John just kind of got his Irish up. He was frustrated that these groups came out in opposition to our budget agreement before we reached a budget agreement,” Ryan told host David Gregory. “I was frustrated, too.”

“But I think these are very important elements of our conservative family.  I would prefer to keep those conversations within the family,” the House Budget Committee chairman said. “And I think he was just basically voicing his frustration with their opposition before we had reached our agreement.”

Boehner doubles down: Conservative groups have “lost all credibility”

John Boehner

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) got a budget deal passed through the House of Representatives on Thursday, but he continued to alienate some of the Republican base in the process by doubling down on criticism of conservative groups.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Boehner, who is in his term as Speaker of the House, said that conservative groups opposing the budget deal are “using our members” and “using the American people.”

Those comments have been called a “line in the sand” against conservative groups and have drawn praise from moderate Republicans, including former Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-LA), who referred to the groups as the “Flat Earth Society.”

Conservative groups quickly fired back at Boehner, saying that the deal is a surrender by Republicans on spending and the promise of spending cuts in the future is dubious, at best.

But Boehner doubled down on the criticism on Thursday, shortly before the vote on the budget deal, after a question from a reporter about his comments from the previous day.

“Well, frankly, I think they’re misleading their followers, pushing members into places they don’t want to be,” Boehner told the reporter. “And, frankly, I think that they’ve lost all credibility.”

Boehner defends the Republican Surrender Act, slams conservative groups

John Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) responded angrily when asked about the strong opposition from conservative groups over the budget deal announced on Tuesday by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

An unidentified reporter asked about the groups which had blasted the deal — more aptly called the Republican Surrender Act of 2013 — and warned members of Congress that they would key vote against it on their respective scorecards. Before the reporter could finish her question, Boehner cut her off, clearly agitated, and shot back, “You mean the groups that came out and opposed it before they ever saw it?”

“They’re using our members, and they’re using the American people, for their own goals. This is ridiculous,” he said. “Listen, if you’re for more deficit reduction, you’re for this agreement.”

Conservative group: Budget deal a “lose-lose compromise” for taxpayers

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chairs of budget committees in both chambers of Congress, reached an agreement last night that will partially roll back the bipartisan spending cuts mandated by the bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2011.

Jonathan Bydlak, president of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, warns that the looming budget promise is “disastrous” for fiscal conservatives because reversal of some of these reasonable spending cuts and does nothing to address entitlement programs — the real drivers of federal budget deficits.

“This deal would be a disastrous lose-lose compromise that kicks the can down the road while refusing to address the core of our national fiscal crisis,” wrote Bydlak in an email blast before the agreement was formally announced.

RELATED: United Liberty chats with Jonathan Bydlak

“At this point, sources have reported that the deal will likely replace less than half of the sequester cuts for 2014 and 2015, and not touch major entitlements and the tax code,” he continued. “[W]e’re hearing rumors that the disastrous deal could…include spending around $980 billion to $1 trillion, along with raising revenues through increased federal employee benefits contributions and air ticket taxes, among other things.”

Budget agreement reached, sequester cuts partially rolled back

Paul Ryan and Patty Murray

After months of working through differences, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chairs of the respective chamber’s budget committees, announced this evening that they’ve struck a two-year discretionary spending agreement that would avoid the prospect of another government shutdown.

The agreement, dubbed the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013,” would spend $1.012 trillion in the current fiscal year and $1.013 trillion in FY 2015, according to a summary of the agreement. It will rollback $63 billion of planned spending cuts between this and next year. The funding measure will not tackle mandatory spending (ie. entitlements), nor does it raise the debt ceiling.

“I’m proud of this agreement,” Ryan said in a joint statement. “It reduces the deficit—without raising taxes. And it cuts spending in a smarter way. It’s a firm step in the right direction, and I ask all my colleagues in the House to support it.”

“This agreement breaks through the recent dysfunction to prevent another government shutdown and roll back sequestration’s cuts to defense and domestic investments in a balanced way,” Murray said. “It’s a good step in the right direction that can hopefully rebuild some trust and serve as a foundation for continued bipartisan work.”

Budget deadline approaches, some sequester cuts could be nixed

There is a lot going on surrounding the budget as Congress approaches the December 13 deadline for lead negotiators — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chairs of their respective budget committees — to reach an agreement, per the October deal that ended the government shutdown.

Republicans in Congress are, generally, ready to deal on the budget, one way or another, after the hit in the polls they took in October. But discussions current taking place between Ryan and Murray would undo tens of billions in sequester cuts, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal:

Lawmakers must still overcome significant obstacles, including last-minute pressure from Democrats seeking a renewal of expanded federal unemployment benefits and labor unions opposed to proposed cuts in federal employees’ pensions.

Still, officials close to the talks say that Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), chief negotiators for their parties, are closing in on a deal that, while smaller in scope than past budget deals, would mark a rare moment of bipartisanship in a Congress that has been lurching from one fiscal crisis to the next.


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