Michael van der Galien

Paul Ryan Alone: The End of Fiscal Conservatism in Washington

Posted on February 10 2010 4:30 pm
Michael van der Galien was born in the Dutch city of Leeuwarden in 1984. For as long as he can remember, he has been obsessed with the United States. When he was 17 years old, he started blogging - of course about America. His articles have been published at Big Hollywood, Pajamas Media, Hot Air (the GreenRoom) and Right Across The Atlantic. He's also an editor for the Dutch conservative blog, De Dagelijkse Standaard.
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Remember how President Barack “Darth Vader” Obama asked Republicans to “bring it on” if they had better ideas for America’s future than the ones he and his fellow Democrats have proposed. Writing for FrontPage Magazine, Vasko Kohlmayer reports that one Republican gave Obama what he asked for – and probably more than that.

It comes in the form of the most constructive legislative proposal to emerge from Congress in a long time. Called “A Roadmap for America’s Future,” it is the brainchild of Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan. The proposal is unusual by Washington’s standards – it actually offers real solutions to a pressing problem.

Faced with moribund economy and weighted down with astronomical obligations it cannot make good on, our federal government is slouching toward fiscal disaster.

This much is obvious to most observers and politicians alike. The problem is that politicians are loath to do anything about it, because the swamp of federal spending has always been a fertile ground for political fortunes. Paul Ryan’s Roadmap bucks this trend and seeks to reverse our disastrous course with a series of commonsense measures.

Some of the plan’s highlights listed by Vasko:

  • Allowing those under 55 to invest over one-third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts, similar to the Thrift Savings Plan available to federal employees;
  • Eliminating the alternative minimum and the death tax;
  • Doing away with taxes on interest, capital gains and dividends;
  • Replacing the corporate tax—currently the second highest in the industrialized world—with a business consumption tax of 8.5%;
  • Imposing a 10 year discretionary spending freeze.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says that Ryan’s plan would strengthen the U.S. economy “and put the government’s finances on a sustainable track.” It would, the CBO states in a letter issued after they reviewed the Wisconsin Congressman’s plan, “lower budget deficits” and “result in much less federal debt than under the alternative fiscal scenario and thereby a much more favorable macroeconomic outlook.”

Obama himself had to grudgingly admit that Ryan’s plan makes a lot of sense. George F. Will – the moderate conservative columnist for the Washington Postagreed. Democrats on the Hill were less kind, however. Instead of endorsing the only sensible plan put forth until in years, they ferociously attacked it and its creator.

Sensing the possibility of scoring political points, they wasted no time launching a salvo of vicious attacks. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who chairs the House Democrats’ reelection committee, had this to say of Ryan’s plan: “Put it this way. For seniors on Medicare, it’s a dead end.” In case you missed it, the pun is not incidental. Van Hollen really meant to imply that Ryan’s plan would be the death sentence for seniors.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fired from both barrels when she described the Roadmap as a scheme that “provides tax breaks for the wealthy, it ends Medicare as we know it, and privatizes Social Security. Here they go again. Rehashing the same failed Bush policies.” Pelosi was deftly seconded by House Democratic Caucus Chair John Larson who chimed in with the following: “They are dusting off their old playbook, rehashing the policies that the American people have rejected in the past. They want to privatize Social Security. They want to turn Medicare into a voucher program. And they’re providing tax breaks for the wealthy while they raise taxes on the middle class.” Never one to mince words, Democrat guru and strategist Paul Begala scoffed: “They have ideas, and lots of them. And their ideas ruin the country.”

And Republicans, how did they respond, you ask? Well, they did what they do best: they retreated immediately. Instead of endorsing Ryan’s fiscally conservative vision for America, they distanced themselves from it, out of fear for the Democratic Party’s attack machine.

That is, all Republicans retreated, except one. Despite the attacks on his person, Ryan continues to defend his plan.

Vasco concludes:

And this brings us to the moral bankruptcy of Washington, DC. Overspending and saddled with obligations it cannot pay, our government is quickly approaching fiscal Armageddon. Our politicians, however, refuse to do anything about it, because it would mean that they would have to start behaving responsibly and stop buying votes with money they do not have. Then along comes one man who proposes meaningful, common-sense measures to avert the impending calamity. For this he gets vilified to the point that even the leadership of his own party, the party that claims to stand for fiscal responsibility, runs away from him in fear.

He is right, of course. What’s happening here is absolutely despicable. This plan doesn’t merely make sense, no, it outlines the only logical and feasible path the U.S. can pursue in the coming years. The treasury has been pillaged and the next generations will suffer under an unbelievably heavy burden of debt put upon their shoulders by arrogant, egotistical and small-minded politicians who care less about doing the right thing than about keeping their jobs.

The history of “A Roadmap for America’s Future” really tells us all we need to know about the current state of affairs in Washington, doesn’t it? Those focused on actually improving America, regardless of which party they belong to, are in the minority.

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