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Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013

Issue of the Week: Paul Ryan Knows Better

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Paul Ryan wasn’t the only member of Wisconsin’s Republican congressional delegation to vote against avoiding default and reopening the government. But Ryan’s vote is the most disappointing because he knows better.

Ryan, the chair of the House budget committee, went on record this summer saying that Obamacare couldn’t be defunded via a continuing resolution—the strategy pushed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz—yet he voted for it anyway. Ryan voted for all of the GOP attempts to dismantle the health care bill, in fact, and even pushed an effort to roll back its contraceptives coverage (again) in an effort to placate the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. And Ryan was no bipartisan problem-solver throughout the stalemate. As the Washington Post reported, in a closed-door meeting Ryan argued against a proposal brought by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine because it would extend the deadlines for default and Ryan wanted a hard deadline for “leverage” to shred Obamacare and enact his own version of tax and entitlement reform.

And after voting to go into default, Ryan is still going to lead the budget negotiating committee—a committee that Senate Democrats requested 19 times since April and which the Senate Republicans rejected every time it was proposed.

Unfortunately, this is typical Paul Ryan behavior.

He manages to be on all sides of every issue, showing a moderate face to the public while voting like a radical.

Ryan knew that Cruz’s strategy wouldn’t work, yet he voted for it.

He knew that the tea party caucus couldn’t dismantle Obamacare and end contraception protections for women, yet he pushed for it.

He knew that members of his party blocked efforts to negotiate a budget, yet he said he “looked forward to convening the first conference on a budget resolution since 2009.”

He knew that default would jeopardize not only the American economy, but the global economy, yet he didn’t support a way to avoid it.

And he knew that the government shutdown burned through $24 billion in a fragile economy, yet he wasn’t fiscally prudent enough to end it.

Paul Ryan’s votes are calculated to give him a tea party pass in the next presidential campaign.

Unfortunately, they weren’t the responsible votes cast by a congressional budget leader who is focused on finding workable solutions to strengthen the economy. Paul Ryan was given an opportunity to act like a leader and he squandered it.

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