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Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013

Issue of the Week: Paul Ryan’s Mess

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Americans are rightly outraged that a small group of extreme House Republicans successfully bullied the more rational members of Congress into shutting down the government this week.

While we may think these tea partiers are members of the fringe, the sad fact is that one of them is Wisconsin’s own Paul Ryan (R-Janesville), the powerful chair of the House budget committee.

Ryan voted along party lines to defund and delay Obamacare and shut down the government—and he did so knowing full well that the maneuver wouldn’t result in defunding the Affordable Care Act.

During an appearance on “Face the Nation” in early August, Ryan disagreed with the tea party strategy of using a shutdown threat to get rid of Obamacare. Even worse, he said—honestly—that the maneuver wouldn’t work because the money for Obamacare was already in place and couldn’t be defunded through the appropriations process.

Still, Ryan voted for the stunt, knowing full well that it was fraudulent.

Ryan has been silent during this whole mess, which is odd, since he plays a key role in it. As Shepherd readers have long known, Ryan’s cruel austerity budget doesn’t work in the real world and actually uses the savings from Obamacare to balance. And when the Senate passed its own budget resolution, Politico reported recently that Ryan and the rest of the Republican members of the House refused to negotiate with the Senate. They were waiting for a showdown and a shutdown to get their list of tea party demands written into the budget.

Ryan has kept a low profile during all of this mess. He had to vote for the shutdown to retain his tea party credibility, but it’s so wildly unpopular with the general public—and Wall Street, the source of a lot of his campaign dollars—that he doesn’t want to be the face of it in the media. That’s a shame, because he could have shown some leadership and crafted a workable budget with members of the Senate and then spoken the truth about his fellow Republicans’ irresponsible shutdown. Instead, Ryan just blindly followed the fraudulent demands of his radical colleagues and prevented the federal government from fully operating on Tuesday.