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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

 
Balance in 10 years

by digby

So as was speculated yesterday, the Republicans (with the help of a bunch of Democrats) have kicked the debt ceiling down the road for three months, but they've also moved the goalposts.

John Boehner today:

“Chairman Ryan is going to be working with all of us to draft a budget by the April 15 deadline. With the right reforms in place, Paul’s goal is to advance a budget that balances within a decade. I applaud that goal, and share it.”

In the meantime he says the sequester:

“will be in place until we get spending cuts and reforms to replace it, and that start us down a path to balance within the decade.”

So, a tactical retreat until their budget guru can come up with some kind of plan that will appease the nutballs. Not an easy task, to be sure. But if anyone can come up with a cockamamie fix, it's him. The question is whether or not they're willing to close down the government over it --- or hold up the debt ceiling in three months.

It's not over. Still, after thinking about it, I can understand why the Democrats would want to take a victory lap. When the other side is retreating, it's natural to press your advantage and demoralize the other sides' troops. But I hope they aren't believing too much of the hype. The GOP still has plenty of leverage and they are a very good opposition party. I wouldn't underestimate their ability to well and truly screw everything up.

Also too, speaking of the Very Serious Paul Ryan, beltway leader of wonkinsh integrity, it would seem he's quite the slippery fellow after all:

When guest host Raymond Arroyo played a tape of one of Ryan's "makers and takers" comments and asked Ryan about Obama "implicitly" attacking him, Ryan responded that Obama had set up a "straw man." He insisted that he believes Social Security and Medicare are "not taker programs."

One problem: These assertions contradict what Ryan has said in the past about "makers" and "takers." When my colleague Brett Brownell and I reported on Ryan's "makers and takers" comments in October, we reviewed multiple examples of Ryan's use of the phrase. Here's how he used it in a 2011 interview with conservative Star Parker [emphasis added]:

Right now, according to the Tax Foundation, between 60 and 70 percent of Americans get more benefits from the government than they pay back in taxes. So, we're getting towards a society where we have a net majority of takers versus makers
.

The Tax Foundation study that Ryan is referring to includes government benefits "from all sources," including Medicare, Social Security, and even national defense. This covers many benefits that go beyond actual checks—the Tax Foundation study derives its "60 to 70 percent" figure in part by assigning Pentagon spending as a "benefit" to each American family proportional to that family's income.

It's good to know he doesn't think SS and Medicare are "taker" programs. I guess he realizes that attacking his base is probably bad politics. But it's interesting that he thinks the defense department is. Maybe we've got some common ground after all.







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