In the wake of the government shutdown I wrote a post called Obamacare and the “Governing” Trap. In it I noted that
Contrary to the line being pushed into the conventional wisdom by the Ruling Class, the government shutdown was much more than a disagreement over tactics [The Budget Shutdown Was About Ideology Not Tactics], it marked a deep ideological divide within the GOP between those who strive to govern for its own sake and those that believe governance must emanate from principle.
The budget deal Paul Ryan brokered with Democrat Senator Patty Murray is a perfect illustration of this point.
Before Ryan made this deal we essentially held a significant number of high cards. The most potent of them being the sequester. I think the sequester is not good government. There are programs out there that are useless, some, like Head Start, have been proven harmful, and they should be killed outright while programs that are succeeding are funded. Philosophy aside, none of us believe programs are going to actually be wound down and therefore the next best option is simply reducing all and the sequester did curb federal spending.
In the battle against Obamacare this was critical as any money used to develop and market that abomination had to come from other programs creating institutional backlash as well as the political backlash from those outside government. This, in the words of Joe Biden, is a big f-in’ deal. Without the sequester we no longer have a bargaining chip of any kind.
I think Paul Ryan has good conservative instincts but I think he likes the approval of the editorial pages of the New York Times and Washington Post more than he likes being a conservative point man. When push comes to shove, Ryan is an establishment man as proven by his votes on TARP, the auto bailout, Medicare Part D, and the “bridge to nowhere.”
What Ryan has done in this budget deal that will now be rammed through the House with the same regard for conservative sensibilities as Obamacare is destroyed any way of restraining spending on Obamacare. He has done this because his ego demanded that he cut a deal. He didn’t particularly care what the deal was so long as no one in the media could call him an obstructionist. He wanted to be popular and to be seen as “governing.”
In this deal he has approved the spending of $60 billion per year, minimum, in return for $2 billion per year maximum (the $20 billion is over a decade) deficit reduction that is not based on spending cuts but on higher taxes, or “fees” as he calls them. Paul Ryan has played us all for chumps. He’s coasted to a very conservative voting record by making meaningless votes to defund Obamacare all the while pushing the increased federal spending he professes to abhor.