Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hardly Bold

There it was- twice- in Paul Ryan's lecture acceptance speech (transcript, here) last night at the Repub National Convention in Tampa, Florida:   a reference to "responsibility."   Halfway in, Ryan remarked

Ladies and gentlemen, these past four years we have suffered no shortage of words in the White House. What's missing is leadership in the White House. And the story that Barack Obama does tell, forever shifting blame to the last administration, is getting old. The man assumed office almost four years ago— isn't it about time he assumed responsibility?

Near the end, Ryan used the word again, claiming "We will not duck the tough issues, we will lead. We will not spend four years blaming others, we will take responsibility."

After taking apart Mitt Romney as someone who "takes on the really tough issues," as Chris Christie put it the night before, Ezra Klein writes on his Wonkblog

But if you’re looking for a guy who doesn’t duck the tough issues, who never obscures the hard truths, who tells you the unpleasant facts you don’t want to hear, who isn’t deterred by the polls, Romney isn’t your guy. Christie or Ryan may be, but Romney isn’t.

That's being far too kind to the New Jersey Governor (he of the budgetary sleight-of-hand), but  Christie isn't running for anything this year.  Paul Ryan, tragically, is.    The Hill on August 21 reported

Paul Ryan attacked President Obama over looming cuts to the defense budget during a campaign stop at a helicopter museum in Pennsylvania on Tuesday afternoon, saying the president would be responsible for putting at risk "almost 44,000 jobs."

The vice presidential hopeful said "national defense is the first priority of the federal government," framing the sequestration deal as a failing of presidential leadership. The House Budget Committee chairman said Democrats wanted the GOP to choose between "tax hikes on small businesses" and cuts to the Pentagon.

"It's either lose defense related jobs in Pennsylvania or put small businesses further at a competitive disadvantage … I got a good idea – why don’t we take away President Obama’s job and create jobs for everybody no matter what industry they are in?" Ryan said.

In response, Talking Point Memo's Benjy Sarlin noted

Despite Ryan’s new attack, he not only voted for the bill containing the cuts, he went out of his way to tout just how difficult it is to undo them.

“What conservatives like me have been fighting for, for years, are statutory caps on spending, legal caps in law that says government agencies cannot spend over a set amount of money,” Ryan told FOX News’s Sean Hannity shortly after the agreement was reached last August. “And if they breach that amount across the board, sequester comes in to cut that spending, and you can’t turn that off without a super-majority vote. We got that in law.”

Like many Republicans who publicly praised the deal’s passage, Ryan has since joined in condemning the cuts and blaming Democrats for the bill they signed onto.

Even before the final bill, Ryan expressed willingness to put defense cuts on the table in order to bring down government spending.

“You can’t throw $700 billion at a government agency and not expect waste to occur,” Ryan said in January 2011.

It’s not the first time Ryan has attacked his own legislation on the trail in recent weeks. After including $716 billion in Medicare savings in his previous two House budgets, he now routinely condemns the cuts as a devastating blow to seniors in campaign speeches.

If we want someone to tell us unpleasant truths, it isn't Mitt Romney or Chris Christie.  And it surely isn't Paul Ryan, no matter how often he will tell you that is exactly what he's doing.


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