With the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate in the 2012 election, Romney is hoping to strengthen his credentials as a budget cutting “deficit hawk” through association with Ryan’s famous budget plan. Given the other choices which Romney was considering this is probably a good overall choice. As Republican Liberty Caucus Chairman Dave Nalle said in response to the announcement:
“While Paul Ryan is by no means the most exciting or creative choice for a running mate, his selection does suggest that there would be an emphasis on budget cutting in a Romney/Ryan administration. Using the Ryan plan as a starting point and with the addition of deeper cuts and more significant reforms to entitlements, Republicans controlling both houses of Congress and the Presidency might be able to pull the country back from the brink of the fiscal abyss.”
The problem is that Ryan’s reputation as a fiscal conservative may not have much substance to it and his positions on other key issues are at the very least worrisome. He has received a great deal of press for a budget plan which does include some cuts and restructuring of medicare, but despite fearmongering from the left, the cuts are far too small and the reforms too limited to really pull us back from the edge of the abyss of debt which faces the nation.
The Ryan plan might be a good starting point if it was augmented with more substantial spending reductions and more comprehensive entitlement reform, but that would require a very proactive and fiscally conservative Congress. By itself it is just not sufficient. It takes a decade to balance the budget and potentially 40 years to deal with the debt, by which time there may be no economy left to save.
In addition, Ryan’s record on spending and other budgetary issues gives little hope that he is terribly serious about promoting limited government. In 2010 the Republican Liberty Caucus of Wisconsin published an analysis of his record and the report is not encouraging. I am reprinting it here in its entirety for those who are concerned about Ryan’s real credentials as a fiscal conservative.
|Increasingly our Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan has become a national media darling. Representative Ryan is consistently being promoted on social media networks and by the Republican Party of Wisconsin and the nationwide “free market” group Americans for Prosperity.The fact of the matter is that Congressman Ryan voted with George W. Bush 94% of the time. That’s why Ryan’s 2007 Republican Liberty Caucus Liberty Index score, which ranks members of Congress on their voting record from a constitutional perspective, was 91% on economic issues but only 56% on social issues. In 2006, his score on the Liberty Index was 66% on economic issues and 67% on social issues. He has scored better on the Liberty Index; his 2008 score, for example, was 88 both on social and economic issues — an impressive score.It appears that when Paul Ryan’s party is doing the spending, raising debt limits, and acting unconstitutionally… Ryan goes with the flow.
Congressman Ryan’s actual record leaves much to be desired.
The issue Ryan is most known for is his interest in cutting the deficit and balancing the budget.
But why did the Congressman vote to bail out the auto industry, to pass the Medicare package to the tune of $400 billion, and to nationalize education via No Child Left Behind?
Paul Ryan on Bailouts and Government Stimuli
Paul Ryan on Entitlement Programs
Paul Ryan on Education
-Voted YES on No Child Left Behind Act (2001)
Paul Ryan on Civil Liberties
Paul Ryan on War and Intervention Abroad
Congressman Ryan supports the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, federal bailouts, increased federal involvement in education, unconstitutional and undeclared wars, Medicare Part D (a multi trillion dollar unfunded liability), stimulus spending, and foreign aid.
According to Michelle Malkin in 2009, “[Paul Ryan] gave one of the most hysterical speeches in the rush to pass TARP last fall; voted for the auto bailout; and voted with the Barney Frank-Nancy Pelosi AIG bonus-bashing stampede. Milwaukee blogger Nick Schweitzer wrote: ‘He ought to be apologizing for his previous votes, not pretending he was being responsible the entire time, but I don’t see one bit of regret for what he did previously. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to let him get away with it’.”
Congressman Ryan: if you don’t like debt, stop voting for debt.
Ryan’s record of fiscal irresponsibility has continued beyond 2010 when this article was written. He has since voted to raise the debt ceiling multiple times and approved ongoing extensions of military spending on unnecessary foreign wars. To be fair his record on fiscal issues has become increasingly mixed. He has voted against foreign aid, farm subsidies and some other specific spending increases as well.
Possibly of even greater concern is Ryan’s ongoing record of absolute irresponsibility in the area of civil liberties. Since 2010 Ryan has been on the wrong side of almost every important vote involving basic Constitutionally protected rights. He voted to extend the PATRIOT Act, for CISPA, for DOMA, for the NDAA (three times), to expand the Department of Homeland Security, to extend troop commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and to give the President the power to appoint department heads without Senatorial approval. At a time when more and more Republicans are waking up to the threat of expanded government power to operate without observing traditional limits on their police power these votes are a major concern.
TARP, bailouts, entitlement expansion, endless military spending and bigger, more intrusive and less constitutional government. Is the Ryan record an example of the kind of policies a financially imperiled nation needs and which grassroots Republicans are demanding? Ryan is probably a gesture in the right direction, but Liberty Republicans should be concerned that the gesture is more symbol than substance and demand a clear and aggressive fiscal plan from the Romney campaign.