Paul Ryan falls short of his own moral standard
Rep. Paul Ryan’s 2013 federal budget proposal is the talk of the town in Washington today, and for good reason. As Greg Sargent pointed out this morning, the debate over Ryan’s plan will “…ultimately, force the American people to make a big choice between two starkly different sets of priorities and ideological roadmaps for the country’s future.”
Ryan seems to embrace this struggle, justifying his budget plan in moral terms. The crux of his argument is that we have a foreseeable, catastrophic debt crisis on the horizon, and that rejecting his solution represents an immoral dereliction of leadership. Here’s Ryan speaking at the American Enterprise Institute this morning:
Ryan seems to believe it’s morally necessary to gut protections for the poor and vulnerable right now in order to avoid gutting protections for the poor and vulnerable in the future.
What Ryan doesn’t address, though, is his own culpability in exploding the debt that he thinks necessitates these cuts. Let’s take a short walk down memory lane:
- Ryan voted for Wall Street deregulation that led to the economic collapse of 2008, which exploded the debt and destroyed millions of jobs.
- Ryan voted for tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 that helped turn Clinton-era surpluses into huge Bush-era deficits and overwhelmingly benefited millionaires and billionaires.
- Ryan voted for a Medicare prescription drug benefit that added almost $300 billion to the deficit and prohibited the government from negotiating withpharmaceutical companies for fairer prescription drug prices.
- Ryan consistently voted for the deficit-financed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which in addition to killing over 100,000 people added over $1 trillion to the debt.
Ryan is arguably as responsible as anyone in Washington for running up the national debt, yet he doesn’t hesitate to preach about the moral imperative to get behind his plan to solve the debt problem he helped create. Even if his plan were a serious solution instead of an Ayn Rand-inspired ideological agenda, Ryan would do well to repent of his own complicity in the debt before moralizing to the rest of us about it.