In the Arena

Does Paul Ryan Matter?

  • Share
  • Read Later
Jacquelyn Martin / AP

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. leaves a Republican caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Washington is atwitter about Paul Ryan’s latest give-no-quarter budget. It is an absurd document, of course. But is it relevant? Probably not.

President Obama has indicated that he is intending to try a different deficit-reduction strategy this year. He is trying to bypass the Republican leadership and forge an alliance with the Republican Sanity Caucus–i.e. those who understand the message of the last election and are willing to marry entitlement cuts with revenue increases to create a balanced plan. That’s why he’s been shmoozing certain Republicans so assiduously these past few days.

The plan is: Do the Senate first (as opposed to experiencing the endless emptiness of John Boehner’s negotiating team). Pry off a chunk of Republicans to pass a balanced plan–and, I would imagine, if the support of some Democrats is lost because of the entitlement cuts, that’s not so bad: it makes the bipartisanship of the bill more credible.

Then go to the House. Again, pick off a sufficient number of GOP Congresspeople to forge a bipartisan majority–sort of like the coalition that passed the tax increases for the wealthy in January–and voila: there is a grand bargain, achieved without Boehner, the Tea Party or Paul Ryan.

Is this possible? Probably not. It is wise to bet on paralysis in Washington these days. But is it worth a try? Absolutely. At the very least, it will be interesting to see if those Republicans who’ve been clucking about a Simpson-Bowlesian solution really mean it.

Ah, Simpson-Bowles: there’s the rub. I think Paul Krugman–who really is beginning to resemble an Old Testament prophet–is right about the big stuff: deficits are among our tiniest worries right now. The top priority should be to get the economy moving in a more robust fashion, which means major spending on infrastructure and other long-term investments. The best argument for a budget deal, to my mind, is that it might buoy and stabilize the markets, remove uncertainty, and lead to greater private sector investment. Indeed, the best argument for entitlement reform is to make Medicare and Medicaid better, more humane (and less wasteful) systems–and to begin the process of incorporating Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance into a seamless system. I suspect, though, we’re not going to get to that conversation until we settle the piddling arithmetic at the heart of the current budget impasse.

71 comments
rpwpb
rpwpb

Krugman prolly doesn't want the job, but I cannot think of anyone more qualified to be our next Fed chief. He understands the part of the Fed mandate that too many others forget: Full employment.

rpwpb
rpwpb

Krugman does sound like an 'Old Testament prophet' --  he's been proved repeatedly correct: on the deficit foolishness, on the counterproductive austerity madness, on trickle-down, Glass-Steagall, demand-side stimulus and the danger of a liquidity trap, which we almost encountered. I'm pleased you've come around somewhat. But you still seem to believe in the dreaded 'uncertainty' myth, which is IMHO the last Wall Street myth you need to bust.

Libtards-UNITE
Libtards-UNITE

Apparently in this country, anyone who doesn't want to spend twice what he makes doesn't matter.  So, no he doesn't matter.  Barrack Hussein matters a lot!!

tkulaga
tkulaga

The people that know him the best, his Janesville Wisconsin constituents, did not vote in the majority for him and Mitt in the past election. Now that has to say something as to what we should think about Ryan and company.

BenevolentLawyer
BenevolentLawyer

I read Ryan's past efforts at legislation, and saw no evidence of the so called WONKINESS he is reputed to possess. He, like Rove, is living in a creation of his well crafted public image. As I stated during the elections, from all I saw, Ryan is merely Sarah Palin in drag. If he were compelled to respond in any depth to the numbers and issues he blathers about, all that we find is an empty and barely intelligent hobbit.

He is no smart man but continues to fool the beltway media in their (the beltway media) unending quest to seek out some good from the Republican pack of hyper political and mostly intellectually challenged charlatans.

Good luck with continuing in the darkness. Hey, this is America. Kim Kardashian bombards our airwaves with a formidable following of people describing her as a star. Her only real performance being the sex tape between her and Ray J. So, hey, we are in the business in America of being completely deluded and misguided by 'glitz'. Ryan is no different than Kardashian. He is a male P-90X male Barbie.

Good luck to Joe wasting his formidable writing talent on this empty boor and his outrageous and baseless numbers game. Ryan's posturing is irritating. He is the Kardashian of the Republican fold and many are eating up the glitter. He is no wonk, not smart, and quite frankly unattractive and way too thin. Haha... I figured that I was discussing a male Bimbo, so I might as well focus on his external Bimbo characteristics. :)   

PapaLibertarian
PapaLibertarian

No, Krugman is not "an old-time prophet" - he's a bumbling fool who can't break out of his failed Keynesian mind-set. As for Paul Ryan, he has slightly improved his "first of never" proposal, but it's still too little, too late. 

If you ever want to break out of America's Lost Decades, you could do a lot worse than to read what Amity Shlaes has to say about Calvin Coolidge and his budget cuts. 

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

Pauly and his minions have not come to terms with 1) losing in 2008 to Mr. Blackenstein (thank you Bill Maher for that line), 2) losing in 2012 to same guy, 3) not actually winning a Presidential election for real in like a zillion years, 4) Supreme Court affirming Obamacare.   Until they come to terms they will continue to blather idiocy and promote nonsense, and continue to be important only to that radical white male population.  They do a great job of roadblocking with new methods, but being the dumbasses they are, they are forgetting that they will not always be the miniority.  Some day the tools they are using now will be used against them, and it is doubtful that any democrat miniority in the future will cross any aisles to help them pass legislature.   

BruceS78
BruceS78

Just once I would like to see someone somewhere have the guts to put forth a political agenda that actually dealt with the country's problems.  Trying to repeal Obamacare is simply a waste of everyone's time.  Do something that can be accomplished.  What about fixing our roads, airports, harbors, and water systems?  Whats wrong with fixing the Defense Department so it can buy a plane without bankrupting itself.  Lets fix the business tax system so that its fair to both the American Taxpayer and every business, not just a chosen few.  What's wrong with fixing Medicare so its there for future generations?

jgallanis
jgallanis

@Anomaly100 @comgenKDT "republican" and "sanity" in the same sentence? Tell me who the "sane" Rs are. And, "less batshit" ain't "sane".

Galen
Galen

Yes he matters!! As long as he keeps doing what he is doing, it helps big-time for progressive ideals. He helps keep Dems in power as they slowly retake the House of Fools. Please keep doubling down on stupid, conservatives!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

Since the right wing has been fussing that there hasn't been a Democratic budget in four years (although there have been proposals that they amended to death) it seems like a good thing to note these budgets don't mean anything except blather.

'That budget isn't out yet. I can't tell you what it does or doesn't do. But I can tell you that Democrats are already getting beaten up over it. And this is the point where I should explain that congressional budgets aren't like budgets like we think about them. Really, they're vision documents. The House and Senate versions don't have to come together. The president never signs them. They don't have the force of law. They're really just blueprints - 90-page, color glossy vision documents. And so, of course, both sides are using these documents to beat each other up'. 

http://www.npr.org/2013/03/12/174080045/rep-paul-ryan-to-release-gop-budget-plan

moonlightgizmo
moonlightgizmo

@JoeKleinTIME Jobs is what the focus should be on in Washington! Why is that so hard to understand? Has Washington fallen on deaf ears??

TJWoodstockNY
TJWoodstockNY

@JoeKleinTIME He's a Tool, a cheap mouth piece for every entity that opposes We The People and the General Welfare of us all..!

DaveMacher
DaveMacher

@JoeKleinTIME Yes! As a cudgel for beating the Republican Party as lackeys for the rich who steal from the elderly and disabled.

reallife
reallife

Yaaaaawwwwwnnnnnnnnnn...

Sue_N
Sue_N

At the very least, it will be interesting to see if those Republicans who’ve been clucking about a Simpson-Bowlesian solution really mean it.

They don't. Because, in reality, the GOP isn't about "cutting spending" or "balancing the budget." It is all about getting rid of "entitlements" (aka, earned benefits), about shafting the middle class and the poor for the sake of the rich and corporations. It's about torching the social safety net. Forget the Gilded Age, the GOP wants to drag us all back into feudalism, with we lowly serfs scrabbling in the dirt to support our wealthy overlords.

If the GOP were serious about fixing the deficit (and the economy), they would forget spending cuts and concentrate on getting Americans back to work. Want folks off "welfare"? Put them to work and raise the minimum wage. Fund job training programs, fund trade schools and make college affordable. Oh, and make birth control as accessible and affordable as candy. (That will also go further toward reducing the number of abortions in this country than legislating abortion providers out of existence.) Focus on raising up thepoor and strengthening the middle class, and the economy – and the deficit – will take care of itself.

But they're not interested in this. Ryan's so-called budget is nothing more than an ideological statement reiterating the GOP's slavish devotion to the rich, to the military-industrial complex and to corporations. And anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot.

ZacPetit
ZacPetit

While interesting, I believe that this article misses a key component of any economic recovery: certainty. Wall Street continues to do well despite obvious negative input from Washington simply because they expect it. They are now certain that Washington will be dysfunctional, and have simply planned around it.

Unfortunately, business owners, with real business concerns (i.e. payroll, taxation, providing healthcare, etc.) cannot simply say "uncertainty is the new normal" and move on. They need to know, with reasonable certainty, what tomorrow's business climate will be like to plan accordingly. This is why we see such poor investment, poor gains in unemployment, and a generally poor recovery.

I don't like the Ryan budget any more than the next person, and I'm not really sold on this "grand bargain" budget either. But guess what? The moment ANY budget is passed, we will see business recovery. Just KNOWING what to expect six months from now will allow companies to take bigger risks like new hiring and new investments.

If politicians truly care about economic recovery, the goal is simple: let's stop the political grand-standing and pass a damn budget.

ParthaNeogy
ParthaNeogy

"Paul Krugman - who is beginning to resemble an Old Testament prophet.."


In looks maybe.  His prophesy track record is way better than any Old Testament prophet's.

grape_crush
grape_crush

> I would imagine, if the support of some Democrats is lost because of the entitlement cuts, that’s not so bad: it makes the bipartisanship of the bill more credible.

God I hate the way the political punditariat values the bipartisan-compromise quality of a piece of legislation over what impact it has on the American public. I understand that nothing happens unless both sides work together and give a little, but taking good legislation and compromising it down to a mediocre bill doesn't serve the public well.

> I think Paul Krugman–who really is beginning to resemble an Old Testament prophet–is right about the big stuff...

More descendant of Cassandra than Moses, but hat's a heck of an admission...not that I expect a sea change in the cottage industry of Krugman-bashing that has arisen.

sonsofaureus
sonsofaureus

@PapaLibertarianI don't think there is a disagreement between Keynes and Friedman about the economy requiring stimulus during down times.  Their difference was where the stimulus should go - Friedman said to the top so it can trickle down, & Keynes said to the bottom so it can trickle up.

Neither economist's understanding of economics was comprehensive enough to apply to all situations for all time.  That's why Friedman had to update Adam Smith.  Sometimes, Keynes is right, sometimes Friedman is.  A wise statesman recognizes that these economists were the product of their times, and that times change.  Thus they judges where government stimulus would make the necessary impact right now, both short and long term, and makes decisions accordingly.  Then the appropriate question is who is right about where stimulus should go right now, not whether or not stimulus is required.  The Paul Ryan budget is a boom time budget, not a near-depression budget.

Most corporations have been hoarding cash of late - Warren Buffet called out corporate CEOs in his latest letter to Berkshire investors - there are opportunities out there, he's gained for his shareholders by seizing them, and the corporations need to start investing in themselves or other businesses again.  Most of these corporate war chests have come from a combination of downsizing, cost-cutting and stimulus offsetting decreased sales.  As a result, the economy is down, and the Dow hit a record high (although inflation adjusted, it is not).  Where ever the corporate stimuli/bail out money went, it's not trickling down.  Banks held on to it to stay solvent, car makers used it to not go out of business, not keep payroll up.

Speaking of the debt and budget cuts, Andrew Jackson once paid off the national debt in 6 years, making budget cuts and running surpluses every year.  He passed the surplus along to the state governments, who started printing currency irresponsibly.  It was an uncontrolled and uncoordinated stimulus which created a massive land bubble, followed by the longest depression in US history - 6 years of economic contraction.  Coolidge also believed it was not the role of the federal government to regulate businesses (he did so as governor, but not as president).  While his presidency is known for its leissez-faire stance,  it's not clear Coolidge was anti-regulation, but may have felt it was not the role of the federal government, but is a state and local matter.  It's easier to balance the budget during boom times - taxes are up, spending cuts are less painful.  Bill Clinton did it.  Anyway, the roaring 20s Coolidge oversaw was also followed by the Great Depression and these events are not separate.  Overheated economies suffer corrections.  And what got us out of that was a massive burst of government regulation and spending, first as stimulus, later to fund the second world war.  America came out of it the pre-eminent military and economic power on earth.  This is a liberal achievement.  That said, how it was achieved is different than how it was propagated.  Conservatives had major roles in prolonging this prosperity.  Keynes and Friedman alternate depending on the situation.  



Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2013/03/13/does-paul-ryan-matter/#ixzz2NeXrWkF4

Galen
Galen

@ConsWahoo @TIME @JoeKleinTIME 


They must be, your deep intelligence is here... heeeeeeeeeyaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!

Galen
Galen

@onahunttoday @TIME @JoeKleinTIME 

If he did con math, we could look at your cowboy Bush for another GOP fiscal meltdown!!

ZacPetit
ZacPetit

@Sue_N You're really spot on, but perhaps you'd like to know that raising the minimum wage really doesn't affect the lifestyle of those that earn minimum wage. It just inflates the cost of the things that those individuals buy as a result, leaving them right back where they were.

Now, this is true across the country as a whole, but the same can't be said with state-to-state comparisons. Setting the federal minimum wage high enough so that all states have equal minimum wages would actually do some good.

NP042
NP042

@ZacPetit The thing with the Ryan budget, as one of the articles put it, is that it hurts the people who need help and helps the people who don't need help.  Congress should not be passing bad legislation just for the sake of passing legislation.  


A second minor quibble is that companies are not just going to start hiring out of the goodness of their hearts.  They're going to hire when there is enough demand to support the additional hires.  If you pass a budget that makes things worse for the segments of the population that help drive demand (ie the 99%) then you're going backwards.


I agree mostly with your last statement, barring the above-mentioned points.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@grape_crush When, exactly, did "bipartisanship" become the Holy Grail of politics? Why is it so much more important to have bipartisan legislation than good legislation? Hell, support for Iraq was about as bipartisan as you could get, and look how that turned out!

The quest for bipartisanship also assumes we have two parties who are both equally interested in reaching a good and workable compromise, and that's just not true today. We have one side willing to compromise away the farm, and one side who won't accept anything less than total capitulation. Forgive me if I'm not too keen on seeing what that kind of "bipartisanship" produces.

PapaLibertarian
PapaLibertarian

@sonsofaureus @PapaLibertarian Nice try, but Keynes was more wrong than right. Did you bother to read what Amity Shlaes had to say about Calvin Coolidge and his quite successful methods, or did you just regurgitate what the standard Keynesian and Chicagoan sources had to say on the matter? Google up Tom Woods and his video and articles on the Depression of the 20s. Cheers! 


BTW, I know Milton Friedman was sold as a "libertarian" economist, which might be why you wandered down that particular pathway, thinking that it might be relevant. I respect Friedman's contributions, but he missed more than a few important points. You'd do better to wander over to mises.org if you want to dig deeper into what I am saying here. 

Galen
Galen

@ZacPetit @Sue_N 

Two more dollars an hour does nothing to the cost of what is bought.

Galen
Galen

@ZacPetit @Sue_N 

Doubling down on stupid is gratifying, please continue. If you were one of those who earn these wages you might not be so clueless and understand that a couple dollars an hour more could keep them off food stamps. You know, the ones that so many are on because of your idiot brother BUSH!

Funny on how you're are letting her know how you are so all knowing, daaaa. Perhaps its you and your ideology, that is clueless, ya think !?

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@Sue_N @grape_crush First off, it's a tried and true method of silencing liberalism, which has been an anathema to the Kleinitian Beltway roughly since the age of St. Reagan. Second, it tells you how much influence they have over the policy debate, since they're the only people who worship that particular ideology (and why they work so hard at pretending to be be merely neutral observers). Out in the country it's pretty much left, right or I don't give a damn.

ParthaNeogy
ParthaNeogy

@Sue_N @grape_crush  

I've noticed that bipartisanship becomes immensely important whenever Democrats happen to control the levers of power.

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

@Sue_N @grape_crush "Bipartisanship" = "Centrist"  A nebulous concept being valued for it's own sake, regardless of what product we actually end up with. 

MrObvious
MrObvious

@Sue_N @grape_crush 

It used to be that bi-partisan moved the needle. Today it means to find some kind of common pay off.

sonsofaureus
sonsofaureus

@PapaLibertarian @sonsofaureus I wasn't trying to do anything.  If you disagree with what I said, please refute the facts I stated in my post.  

There are only two major schools of thought in macro-economics - Keynes and Friedman.  I brought up those two because they're the two that matter, and while they differ, they're not diametrically opposed either.  To say that Keynes was more wrong than right, you would have to know what was right at each of those situations - I'm not sure anybody's qualified to make that claim.

There is no such thing as a libertarian economist - because libertarianism is a political ideology, and economics is an academic discipline.  Researchers have to draw their conclusions from facts and data, not pick and choose facts to support particular policies.  There have been times deregulation and government fiscal restraint was a boon to the economy, but today is not one of them.  And with our divided government, where the Federal government and all 50 state governments would have to coordinate action together, no one policy can be pursued at all levels of government anyway.

Friedman's thoughts happen to lend themselves well to and were incorporated into conservative thought and Keynes to liberal, but neither started out with the goal of advancing conservatism/liberalism through academics - or they wouldn't be an academics, just political operatives.  It's the conservatives who embraced Friedman's ideas, not Friedman who embraced conservatism and set out to produce ammunition for them.  The same with Keynes.  

I would urge you to read up on the standard Keynesian and Chicagoan sources instead of biographies for guidance on matters of economics.  

Sue_N
Sue_N

@Galen @ZacPetit @Sue_N Exactly. To someone working 40 hours (or more) a week, that extra $2 an hour is another week of groceries, a tank of gas for the car or shoes for the kids.

Of course people who've never lived on minimum wage don't understand that. All they care about is that, OMG, something somewhere might cost me a few pennies more!

MrObvious
MrObvious

@Sue_N @MrObvious @grape_crush 

That's what happens when we allow legal bribery on the scale we see today. As long as they keep themselves within the wide margin of what they can get away with they can retire and take up lobbying for the industry that owned them soul and all.

It's a terrible system where the Fox do get the guard the hen house.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@MrObvious @Sue_N @grape_crush It used to be that we had a relatively functional system of government. Now it's just a bunch of arsonists looking to burn down the house with people still inside.