Paul Ryan’s Path to Big Government

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Over the last several weeks, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has become a cheerleader for amnesty – what he calls an “earned path to citizenship” – in the House. He even went so far as to say the following in June:

I will debate anybody who tries to suggest that these ideas that are moving through Congress are amnesty. They’re not. Amnesty is wiping the slate clean and not paying any penalty for having done something wrong.

Over at Front Page Mag, Daniel Greenfield shot down that theory, including by pointing out the following:

The fine is a thousand dollars. It won’t even cover their first Earned Income Credit refund. It’s cheaper than the full cost of legally immigrating to the country. If that’s a fine, so is a visa application.

Now, this week, Chairman Ryan has met with his fellow Republicans in Congress to try to find a way to pass immigration reform in 2013 or 2014:

A small group of Senate and House Republicans are meeting Monday night to discuss how to pass an immigration overhaul through Congress.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who has been hungry to rewrite the nation’s immigration laws this Congress, is attending the session. Most top members of Republican leadership in the House and Senate are not attending the confab, according to sources.

Chairman Ryan is doing an excellent job of setting himself up as a key negotiator/bridge for amnesty to get through the House. So far, Speaker Boehner has refused that path, but one amnesty supporter notes Chairman Ryan could easily give cover to other Republicans:

Alex Nowrasteh of the libertarian Cato Institute said Ryan could give other Republicans political cover to support immigration reform. “Nobody is going to question the conservative credentials of Paul Ryan,” he said.

And herein lies the entire problem with the premise that Chairman Paul Ryan of the House Budget Committee can be the link between establishment Republicans and fiscal conservatives: he is not a fiscal conservative. He is certainly socially conservative, and continues to hold to the establishment GOP premise that we need a bigger military – but his past indicates a man willing to expand government. Consider the following, which I wrote the day he was picked as Mitt Romney’s Vice President candidate:

Since entering Congress in the late 1990s, he voted for NCLB, the Medicare drug bill, funding for two badly-run wars, the Bush auto bailout, and TARP. Granted, he offered an alternative plan to TARP, and opposed the initial plan, but in the end he voted for it. He also voted for the Budget Control Act in 2011.

Paul Ryan as VP under Romney means entitlement reform – should they win in November – will be pushed off for another ten years. It means defense spending will continue to go up.

When looking at the budgets Chairman Ryan has pushed through the House, they do significant Medicare reform…a decade from now. He has never attempted to touch Social Security in these budgets, and his tax reform proposals have largely consisted of the clichéd “eliminate loopholes and lower rates” without actually providing specifics. In short, his plans are not fiscally conservative, nor are they remotely adequate for the fiscal challenges facing the country.

The Chairman has also undercut fiscal conservatives in at least two high-profile ways this year alone. In May, Chairman Ryan said there would be no hard line on the debt ceiling in 2013. He also said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that “we do not have a debt crisis right now but we see it coming. We know it’s irrefutably happening and the point we’re trying to make with our budget is let’s get ahead of this problem.” Like Speaker Boehner, who made the same claim earlier this year, Chairman Ryan is ignoring how government debt is already affecting the American people.

Last year, a Capitol Hill source offered a possible explanation of why a fiscal conservative would vote for such large government expansion. He informed me that Chairman Ryan had to support NCLB and other government-expanding programs because those compromises with leadership allowed him to climb the proverbial ladder to become Chairman of the Budget Committee. Furthermore, voting for the Medicare Drug Bill had been critical to the GOP winning the 2004 elections.

To the source, all of these compromises were worth the cost (literally and figuratively), because now Chairman Ryan could push his Medicare reforms. However, the problem with that is Chairman Ryan’s solutions are both underwhelming and DOA in the Senate. His surrender to other big government spending programs produced no tangible gains.

The bartering of principle mentality  is exactly what’s wrong with Washington. Outside the beltway, A policy isn’t fiscally conservative because it slows the growth of spending more than another plan. A Member of Congress isn’t a fiscal conservative because he talks the talk and votes left-of-center on fiscal issues. A fiscal conservative is someone who recognizes the financial problems America faces and deals with them in a forthright manner that will provide real solutions.

In supporting Amnesty, Chairman Ryan abandons the principles he claims to defend. Will we as a cohesive group admit he is not one of us, or will we continue providing him with political cover as helps both parties grow government?

Check back tomorrow for Paul Ryan’s response…