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Tilting at Windmills

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December 31, 2010

RYAN'S RADICAL RULE?.... House Republicans quietly advanced procedural budget rules last week, which would be funny if they weren't so ridiculous. But there's a second part of this that shouldn't go overlooked.

We talked the other day about Republicans' "Cutgo" rules. The policy allows the GOP to try to keep slashing taxes, without having to pay for them, while requiring spending cuts to pay for new or expanded programs.

As Paul Krugman explained this morning, "Spending increases will have to be offset, but revenue losses from tax cuts won't. Oh, and revenue increases, even if they come from the elimination of tax loopholes, won't count either: any spending increase must be offset by spending cuts elsewhere; it can't be paid for with additional taxes." The Nobel laureate labeled this "the new voodoo."

And then there's the other part of House Republicans' new budget rules.

A little-noticed detail in the new rules proposed by House GOP leaders would greatly increase the power of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee. As National Journal's Katy O'Donnell reports, the new rules say that, for fiscal 2011, the chairman will set spending limits without needing a vote.

If that sounds insane, that's because it is. Under the proposed rules, Ryan would be empowered to single-handedly establish spending levels if the House and Senate struggle to agree on a budget resolution. Just as important, Ryan's levels would be binding on the chamber, without even being subjected to a vote.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained:

This rule change ... means that by voting to adopt the proposed new rules on January 5, a vote on which party discipline will be strictly enforced, the House could effectively be adopting a budget resolution and limits for appropriations bills that it has never even seen, much less debated and had an opportunity to amend. [...]

Once Rep. Ryan places in the Congressional Record discretionary funding limits set at the [2008] level, they will become binding on the House, and any attempt to provide funding levels that allow for less severe cuts will be out of order.

In addition to inviting a crisis and almost-unavoidable government shutdown, Pat Garofalo reminds us, "The proposed change also seems to fly in the face of the GOP's promise to end backroom deals and increase transparency, as with one vote, the GOP House may yoke itself to a budget that has never been made public."

Worse, the chamber would be forced to honor mandatory spending levels, established by one crackpot lawmaker, which the rest of Congress would never have even voted on.

We're starting to see some outrage from House Democrats on this, but the fix may be in.

Steve Benen 10:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Comments

Government shut down here we come. Paul ryan is the new newt gingrich. this is john boehner's way of making sure that the speaker is insulated.

Posted by: greg on December 31, 2010 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Welcome to a replay of Republican hardball.

They will exercise their newfound power in ways that Democrats would never consider. In principle, I vehemently disagree with using power in this way. But Republicans will do it, and the media they own will cheer them all the way. Democrats had a chance to exercise at least some power when they had the majority, but they chose instead to pussyfoot around to maintain 'comity.'

Republicans and conservatives in power soon say "fvck your comity, we're in charge."

Posted by: terraformer on December 31, 2010 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

I'm waiting for a wingnut like Mike K to tell us how this egregious and indefensible abuse of power is not that bad, necessary under the circumstances, and at the very least not nearly as bad as something some Democrat somewhere proposed in the past HarryReidHarryReidObamaHitlerSocializm.

Posted by: trex on December 31, 2010 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

"Government shut down here we come. Paul ryan is the new newt gingrich. this is john boehner's way of making sure that the speaker is insulated." = greg

If that's the case, and you are probably right, then we need to put Paul Ryan's head on a fucking pike and place it in front of the capitol building.

This guy needs to be grilled mercilessly and if the press doesn't do it, they need to be grilled.

Dems on the House Budget Committee better start calling some news conferences and demanding some air time. Don't sit on your ass waiting for a invitation. Go public in a big way that demands coverage.

Posted by: bdop4 on December 31, 2010 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone who claims to be surprised by ANY fascist exercise of power by the Republicans is an idiot or a dupe.

The ReThugs have been promising fascism for at least 2 years; who's naive enough to be shocked?

As for a federal government shutdown, they've been lusting for that quite publicly for a long time, too. Why? They've never explained. As outlined in Orwell's 1984, they just want to exercise power for its own sake. They don't need any other goal.

The only question left is which wing of the party will come out on top -- the fascist or the nihilists? And will it make any difference to the rest of us either way?

Posted by: Gummo on December 31, 2010 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

It will be interesting to see what will happen. Let's say that you are Adrian Smith of Nebraska. Is the first thing you want to do once you take the majority of the Agriculture committee is pass a budget slashing farm subsidies? A cut that isn't going to be supported by the Senate? Ditto for every other House Rep on almost every other committee.

Posted by: Dennis on December 31, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

"It will be interesting to see what will happen. Let's say that you are Adrian Smith of Nebraska. Is the first thing you want to do once you take the majority of the Agriculture committee is pass a budget slashing farm subsidies? A cut that isn't going to be supported by the Senate? Ditto for every other House Rep on almost every other committee." - Dennis

Great point, but do you think they're really going to cut corporate welfare? In your example, I would think they would cut every program that provides low cost food or other services to the poor or to school children. That's the republican way.

Posted by: bdop4 on December 31, 2010 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

So, given that the Republicans will have a majority in the House and, therefore, effectively control all legislation there, why would they need this sort of procedural gimmick? Don't they trust their own caucus to act together?

Posted by: DRF on December 31, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Mike K went back to his day job which is being nothing more than shit paper for his favorite Repiglican assholes .......

Posted by: stormskies on December 31, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

You have to be less aware then a snail not to get the play here. Govt shutdown is 100% posturing for the low intelligence base. They can pontificate about the evil govt and liberal fascistcommunist muslim something or other and money for thr poor=colored people but shutting down the govt would be disastrous to their masters so it won't happen.

Posted by: Gandalf on December 31, 2010 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Gandalf says that the threat of government shutdown is posturing. That implies that, at the end of the day, the Republicans in Congress are willing to arrive at a compromise with the Administration. I wonder how the new members of the House Republican caucus will respond to that move? There's a real possibility here that the leadership will be boxed in by the no-compromise nature of the Tea Party wing, thus leading to a real impasse and shutdown.

Posted by: DRF on December 31, 2010 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Here's hoping someone will sue to prevent this one-man rule.

Seriously: placing ALL financial power in the hands of a crazed Ayn Randian???

Please give us a break: someone stop the madness. It's spreading.

Posted by: jjm on December 31, 2010 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

OK let's hope Ried and other Senate Democrats are paying attention to how Reps are setting up the House. Because it is yet more proof of the necessity of Senate rules reform.

Posted by: thorin-1 on December 31, 2010 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

bdop4,
Instead of grilled, can I have mine poached?

Posted by: c u n d gulag on December 31, 2010 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Oh. My. God. They're going to do WHAT?!!! I had to read the OP several times because it was so incredible. That is the most dangerous idea I've ever seen. One-person rule over all finances is a direct perversion of democracy. Ryan and this plan have got to be stopped.

Posted by: Athena on December 31, 2010 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

jjm,
Look on the plus side. It ain't Pence, who I think gives Doug Feith a run for his money.
Pence makes Ryan seem like a towering figure of genious.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on December 31, 2010 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

DRF I don't think you get it. The Teabaggers don't really have any power they're just tools. The real powers that be will dictate to their puppets just what to do.

Posted by: Gandalf on December 31, 2010 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

And yes, this is the single most insane and undemocratic idea I think I've ever heard.

Basically, it doesn't matter who wears the pants in the family, it's the person who controls the the purse that's the one who's really in charge.

If Democrats can't stop this, or RepubliKlans realize how dangerously stupid this idea really is, this country might as well just fold up its tent. It'll be 'Ruled by Retards' time until even the Galtian Overlords can't stand the stench and move on to the rape the next country. Let's see if the Chinese or Indians show those fuckers any love.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on December 31, 2010 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Worse than I even thought it could be.

And the kicker is, Republicans are predictably blaming Democrats for **making** them do this - blaming Democrats for having "failed" to pass a budget -- which all Republicans voted against (I don't even have to look it up, I know all Republicans voted against it, because if any Republicans voted **for** it, that would have been news).

Well, I hope those who insist there are no differences between Republicans and Democrats are enjoying dancing in the streets with their newly-found teabagger friends.

That f*cking idiot Paul Ryan being in charge of this country's purse-strings is going to be a bona-fide nightmare.

Posted by: June on December 31, 2010 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Though I pretty much agree with this post Steve and with most of these comments on here, I do have to disagree with the framing of this.

Consider Republicans have never, not one single time, ever shrunk spending. Consider, too, that these Republicans taking over next week are also the same Republicans that gave us the largest deficit in human history. So what makes any of us think this is a way for the GOP to cut spending???

There is nothing in GOP history to suggest they are using their new rule change as a way to trim the budget. These are the same people that never passed a single piece of legislation that was funded the last time they were in power. Why does the story have to be they are using this new rule to freeze spending levels? Couldn't they use this new rule as a way to increase spending like they did the last time-- actually every time-- they were in power??

I couldn't imagine the narrative if Nancy Pelosi had given herself the power to set spending limits. I do know it wouldn't be that she was going to restrict spending. You can bet your ass it would be she was going to increase it to levels never seen before, like any woman with a unlimited credit card would do. Wheee!!

The "GOP is wanting to shrink spending" narrative is old, completely untrue and Democrats really should stop portraying it that way since it never gets a headline.

Part of Obama's change theme was also to change the debate not just the politics. Change the debate Steve. Please.

Posted by: Chris- The Fold on December 31, 2010 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Don't we have courts that can declare this kind of thing unconstitutional?

Posted by: Pat on December 31, 2010 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Look the country is coming to an end as a democracy and a republic... Education spending is at it's lowest level in generations, the social safety net is being dismantled cf Jan Brewer in Az, the transportation network is crumbling as is the aging infrastructure we developed, therebis no hope of redressing the balance between rich and poor, and are reexperiencing a resurgence in racism.

So let the Republicans have their dictatorship. We might vas well call it a day, go home and get blind drunk then die in the gutter.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on December 31, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Spending levels for the entire United States government controlled by one man? Is that what that means or am I misunderstanding the proposal?

Posted by: JGR on December 31, 2010 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Pat wrote, Don't we have courts that can declare this kind of thing unconstitutional?

IIRC, the Constitution says that the chambers of Congress are entitled to set their own rules.

Posted by: liberal on December 31, 2010 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

I can't imagine other Republican Representatives putting up with handing all power to Ryan. That would be too crazy even for them.

Posted by: PeakVT on December 31, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Great news. We'll see if the Republicans hold to their election promises. Reducing spending is necessary. I'm surprised anyone listens or reads Paul Krugman anymore.

Posted by: NEH on December 31, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Great news

Clearly it's not great news. It's never good news in a democracy for one person to wield that much power. It's even less good when it's a loony wingnut.

We'll remember your love for this kind of singular power the next time Nancy Pelosi is chairing the House Budget Committee.

W'll see if the Republicans hold to their election promises

They have never and they never will. To pretend that they might this time is the province of an unserious bozo.

Reducing spending is necessary

No, it's really not, at least not in a down business cycle when you want government to spend more to stimulate the economy. Deficit spending is precisely what helped a number of countries including our own emerge from the Great Depression.

I'm surprised anyone listens or reads Paul Krugman anymore

That's odd, since since Krugman's track record on the economy is nothing short of excellent.

Posted by: trex on December 31, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Government shutdown? I hate to break to the people who expect Obama to stand up to the Republicans, but there will be no government shutdown. Obama will simply cave in.

Posted by: Seth on December 31, 2010 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

I can't wait to hear all the old TP folks on SS and Medicare etc when the government can't issue their checks because these idiots have shut down the government. These old TP people will be screaming to beat the band.

Posted by: shanti2 on December 31, 2010 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Remember all of those GOP and Tea Party shrieks about "reading the bill" during the health care debate? Or their calls for legislation to be posted on-line many days before each vote? Or demanding that legislation be read out loud in the Congressional chamber? Good times...

Posted by: meander on December 31, 2010 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

This isn't going to pass the Senate so expect a government shut down.

The Republicans will be blamed big time.

Posted by: Maritza on December 31, 2010 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't the Senate have to vote for this too?

I just don't see the Senate passing the House budget.

Posted by: Maritza on December 31, 2010 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

I keep reading through the comments on this proposal and hoping someone will tell me why the Democratically controlled Senate would agree to this. Cede control? That's a laugh.

Ironically if the Republicans agree to filibuster reform, it could work to their advantage; they just might be able to bully enough Dems to pass it. I wonder how many Republicans can see that many steps ahead.

Posted by: justaguy2 on December 31, 2010 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK
These old TP people will be screaming to beat the band.

No longer a pressure point.

Direct Deposit. 75% or more of SS recipients use it doday, vs. less than 20% when Gingrich shut down the gov't.

Only takes a corporal's guard of tech types to keep the 1's and 0's flowing.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on December 31, 2010 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

What's different? According to the story, the one-man rule kicks in if the House and Senate can't agree on a budget resolution. That sounds as if the House, the whole House, would have to first pass a budget resolution for the Senate to disagree with. When that happens, isn't budget czar Ryan going to establish spending limits that are pretty much in line with what the House had previously passed? Then the Senate can either go along or reject the whole thing again. And around and around they will go until it's continuing-resolution time.

There is a pleasing economy of effort in letting one doofus do the work that hundreds used to do. And no one, absolutely no one, should complain about a high rate of unemployment in the House of Representatives.

Posted by: tamiasmin on December 31, 2010 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Dems should publicly commit to matching Rs vote-for-vote to increase the debt limit, and tell Wall St to call their favorite R's if they want the debt limit increased. Negotiations over spending can happen after that vote.

Posted by: ElegantFowl on December 31, 2010 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Paul Ryan does like to pose with a pencil behind his ear, so surely he must know what he's doing!

Posted by: DS on December 31, 2010 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, this Paul Ryan sure sounds like a crazy SOB! Such a pity that the Democrats couldn't be bothered to run anyone at all against him in the last election, even though Obama carried that district in 2008 by over ten points. I mean it's not like any halfway credible Democrat couldn't have beaten Ryan by reading the most revolting passages from Atlas Shrugged and say "this is how Paul Ryan believes." And I really, really hope Obama doesn't do anything to legitimize Ryan as a serious thinker but doing something silly like setting up a Blue Ribbon Deficit Reduction Commission that Ryan can get appointed to so he can demagogue against Social Security in every newspaper in the country.

Posted by: Citizen Alan on December 31, 2010 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

I do not think that the corporate masters would be much amused by a government shut down.

Posted by: Paul k. on January 1, 2011 at 7:14 AM | PERMALINK

If I wanted nutcases to have my money, I would give it to you.

10% less spending, per year, 10 years.


Or are you just gonna print some more money?

Posted by: Bill Johnson on January 1, 2011 at 7:16 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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