The Big Win
Dylan Matthews interviewed Michael Linden of Center for American Progress about the Democrats' adoption of the Paul Ryan Budget numbers:
The continuing resolution (CR) that the Senate passed, the one that's ostensibly the Democratic position in this dispute now, spends $217 billion less on discretionary programs than Obama's budget would have. Break that number down for me. Where's it coming from?
Surprisingly, while it's a little bit more of a cut for non-defense spending, it's not all non-defense. Some of the difference is defense as well. The Obama budget had $600 billion in it for non-defense discretionary spending, and the Senate CR says $467 billion. It's a $133 billion difference. But that leaves a big chunk in the defense as well.
And it's mostly coming because of sequestration.
It's sequestration but also the Budget Control Act's cap. One of the things that's interesting about that chart is that the Senate budget resolution is a pretty far move from the initial democratic position. At that point, we were already pretty far away from where Democrats started.
When you mention the "original" Paul Ryan budget, which one are you referring to?
The one we were using was the one they released when they took over, in early 2011.
So we've been cutting spending at a faster pace than Paul Ryan wanted to when Republicans took over Congress.
On discretionary spending at least, that's right. And that's what we're pointing out. We've already essentially adopted that Ryan budget, and obviously that was not seen at the time as a moderate approach to government spending.
One hates to point fingers, but back in the first term, austerity was all the rage in the administration and among its institutional allies you'll recall. They were fighting with the Republicans over who could be the biggest deficit cutter in town. And that includes CAP. And here we are now with the Paul Ryan proposing to hold the debt ceiling hostage for even more cuts.
Read the whole interview. You will find that this is even more batshit crazy than you thought. The arbitrary budget caps are different in each house and yet if the numbers were in any way fairly obtained we wouldn't even be hitting the caps under sequestration. It's that looneytunes.
I am actually getting a little bit frightened that the revelation of this budgetary malpractice (which is the only thing you can call it) is going to be the thing that finally scares investors out of buying our bonds. This country is clearly being run by charlatan's and fools and one of the main ringleaders is named Paul Ryan. And the Republican Party nominated him to be the Vice President a couple of years ago. Doesn't bode well.
Anything you want to touch on before we wrap up?
No kidding. But that is by design. Ezra spoke with Grover Norquist about all this and Grover has an interesting perspective. He's not happy with Ted Cruz because Cruz didn't go along with his devious plan:
Just how remarkable it is that we're having a budget shutdown and there's been very little discussion of the actual budget. The Republicans have shut down the government over Obamacare and Democrats have not made a very concerted effort to highlight just how bad the levels of funding in the CR really are. What they're trying to do is keep the government open, so I understand that, but we're not having a debate about if this is the right investment in NIH, or schools, or health inspectors.
Ezra Klein: So, do you think a shutdown is good for the issues and ideas you’re trying to push?
Look at what Linden said above and you will see that he's likely right about that (and that this is what Ryan has to trade over and above raising the debt ceiling.)
Grover Norquist: Not necessarily. I think the original plan for the Republicans was to move the continuing resolution past the debt ceiling and then to sit down with Obama and decide whether he would be willing to trade some relaxation of the sequester for significant reforms of entitlements. That was something Obama might well do. Democrats in the House and the Senate are very concerned about caps and limits in sequestration. Republicans could get significant long-term entitlement reform -- all on the spending side, I’m assured by leadership -- for some relaxation of sequester.
He's really feeling his oats. Ezra asked him about the end game.
GN: Republicans have their principles. Let’s have health-care be more consumer-oriented, let’s not raise taxes, let’s reform government. I could imagine many things that would work inside those principles, but I’m not in Obama’s head. I don’t know how he values those things.
If I were him I’d trade some money off the sequester today for reforms in entitlements that take place a long time from now. Those reforms will be done by somebody. You might as well get something for them. Someday Republicans will hold the White House and the Senate and they’ll pass the Ryan plan. You might as well get something for it.
EK: One aspect of this that you mention quite a bit, but that’s been somewhat lost in the debate, is that Republicans have really managed to hold the spending levels in the CR down. They’re below the original Ryan budget, for instance, and well below what President Obama and the Senate Democrats wanted. Yet Republicans feel like they’re failing because they’re focused on Obamacare. Do you think Republicans are winning on spending?
Mr Norquist? With all due respect, please take your "fix" and stick it where the sun don't shine.
GN: Yes, absolutely. We won in 2011 and then again with the president making 85 percent of the Bush tax cuts permanent. We really did get caps and sequestration that limits government spending. If we just went home and put the government on autopilot it would be a win. This Republican Congress has made a fundamental shift in the size of government equation.
Sequester is the big win. It defines the decade. You still have to fix long-term entitlements, but the other team isn’t willing to do that. So you either wait for a Republican president and the Ryan plan or you get people so concerned about sequestration that they’re willing to come to the table and fix entitlements long-term.