Paul Ryan

Please Enjoy These Videos of Paul Ryan Being Concerned About Debt and Overspending

"The real problem is that we spend way more money than we take in. We have to address that."


Apropos of nothing in particular, here's a video of then–House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) praising a bipartisan agreement to place limits on federal spending:

That was in 2011. Ryan was pumped about a "huge cultural change" for Congress, which for years had ignored soaring deficits but now had passed the Budget Control Act, which capped future spending on the military and discretionary programs. Neither party was particularly happy with the agreement, but to Ryan that was a good thing, because it meant everyone had to take some medicine. "Both parties got us in this mess," he said. "Both parties are going to have to work together to get us out of this mess."

"The real problem is the fact that we spend way more money than we take in," he noted. "We have to address that."

Fast-forward to 2018. Ryan is now Speaker of the House, a position from which he could, in fact, address that. The economy is humming along, unemployment is low, and he just helped pass a tax reform package that Republicans have been clamoring after for the better part of two decades. Time to trim some more fat, work on balancing the budget, and maybe even take a whack at solving the impossible problem of entitlement reform, right?

Nah. Instead, the onetime budget hawk presided over the pre-dawn passage of a budget bill that makes mincemeat of the very spending caps Ryan championed seven years ago. The budget will grow government spending by about $400 billion this year, and it includes an $165 billion boost for the Pentagon over the next two years. (The latter increase is driven almost entirely by Republicans' gut feeling that the military is underfunded; there is still no completed Pentagon audit.) The new budget will add an estimated $1.7 trillion to the federal debt in the next decade and will cause the Treasury to run a trillion-dollar deficit every year for the foreseeable future, according to a nonpartisan analysis from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Source: Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

The red line on the chart above is the spending cap that Ryan was cheering in 2011. The two light blue columns on the right are the spending plan that Ryan just shepherded to President Donald Trump's desk without so much as a hint of concern about spending "way more money than we take in."

It's no surprise to see politicians change their agendas over time, particularly after moving from the minority to the majority. But Ryan's transformation from a budget-conscious Dr. Jekyll to a debt-junkie Mr. Hyde is uniquely remarkable.

"If you were against President Obama's deficits, and now you're for the Republican deficits, isn't that the very definition of hypocrisy?" asked Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) during his valiant-but-futile effort to hold up the budget bill in the Senate last night. And what if "you" literally made your name in Congress by drafting alternative federal budgets during the Obama years that aimed to bring some measure of balance to the budget? It was a flawed plan, but it was a plan. Now "you're for" a budget bill that annihilates years of difficult work that achieved modest budgetary gains, one that piles up trillions of dollars of new borrowing to be paid by future generations of Americans. What would we call that?

I don't know, but it's what we should start calling Paul Ryan.

Here's a bonus video of Ryan in July 2011 issuing a dire warning about the country's future:

"We are driving our country and our economy off of a cliff," he said. "The reason is that we are spending so much more money than we have. We can't keep spending money we don't have."

Yes. That's exactly the problem. And you just made it worse.

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  1. You’re focusing on what Paul Ryan said?!

    Paul Ryan passed a bill through the House–just months ago–that cut $1.111 trillion in spending–$834 billion of it directly from Medicaid, an entitlement program.

    “CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have completed an estimate of the direct spending and revenue effects of H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act of 2017, as passed by the House of Representatives . . . CBO and JCT estimate that, over the 2017-2026 period, enacting H.R. 1628 would reduce direct spending by $1,111 billion . . . . The largest savings would come from reductions in outlays for Medicaid and from the replacement of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) subsidies for nongroup health insurance.


    I repeat, Paul Ryan passed a bill that cut spending by $1.1111 trillion just months ago. Why pretend that didn’t happen?

    Is it because Reason staff embarrassingly eviscerated Republican attempts in both the House and the Senate to cut spending?

    Did you think we’d forget?

    1. Was Paul Ryan’s position on this CR correct or not? Should we hold Republicans accountable for their words and subsequent contradictory actions or not?

      1. I don’t expect politicians to be more ideologically rigid than swing voters in an election year, especially when historical precedent suggest that the Republicans are likely to lose control of the House–since it’s the first midterm after a controversial president was elected.

        Politicians are supposed to cave to the interests of swing voters. It’s called “democracy”. If we want that to stop, then we libertarians need to work on the hearts and minds of swing voters.

        Pursuant to that goal, I’m not gonna breathe through my nose while a libertarian publication sells fiscal conservatism down the river–and then turns around and claims to be fiscally conservative.

        The reason we didn’t cut more than $1 trillion in spending and more than $700 billion of it from Medicaid, a socialist program that’s screwing up our healthcare markets, isn’t because Paul Ryan got in the way. It’s because when the opportunity to cut Medicaid for the first time ever finally presented itself, all the phony fiscal conservatives eviscerated the bill to do so–killing the political support for fiscal conservatism at the grass roots level.

        I will not thank Reason for contributing to that effort. And every time they try to pull the splinter out of somebody else’s eye, I’m reminded of the 2X4 in their own. Paul Ryan is a politician, not an ideological group dedicated to small government through fiscal conservatism. Why would I judge Paul Ryan by the same standard as Reason?

        1. I’m certainly not arguing that Reason was right about the AHCA, and it’s fair game to call out their hypocrisy. But, trying to excuse Paul Ryan for what he just crammed through the House is equally as bad.

          Either you believe politicians should have principles or they should not. If you believe in the will of the voter above all else, then why not advocate for full on democracy?

          1. Additionally, I’d be really interested in seeing a recent poll on spending. I don’t think that the will of the voter, or even the swing voter, is overwhelmingly in favor of increasing deficits. Maybe I’m naive.

            Either way, Ryan’s vote is an endorsement of party over principles. Of this, there can be no doubt.

            1. If you don’t think that handing OPM to swing voters is popular with swing voters, I don’t know what to say.

              1. I don’t think anybody cared about this stupid bill. In fact, nobody even knew what specific spending was in the bill. The Republicans could have passed another CR with no spending increase in a business as usual manner and likely not lost a single seat over it. The media narrative was all about the shutdown. The R’s successfully kicked the can a month down the road AND added $300B + in new spending. I’m sure they’ll do much better in March, and on down the line.

          2. “Either you believe politicians should have principles or they should not.”

            Not only do politicians NOT have principles, Representatives to the House are expected to be less principled than other politicians. Again, they’re supposed to cave to swing voters. It’s called “democracy”.

            No really.

            The principles come from the American people–the voters.

            I expect Reason to have principles.

            1. Welch, Gillespie, and most of the guys and gals working here at Reason absolutely DO have principles.

              They’re just lying about what those principles actually are.

        2. “”especially when historical precedent suggest that the Republicans are likely to lose control of the House–since it’s the first midterm after a controversial president was elected.””


          It will be called a huge victory against Trump. But it’s really business as usual.

          1. Republicans will likely lose the House regardless of this stupid vote. So what you’re going to get is a Dem majority AND $300B + new spending. Ryan likely can’t control the former, and he abdicated his principles on the latter.

    2. Enjoy Nick Gillespie arguing that cutting trillions in spending is worse than ObamaCare:…

    3. They don’t care what we think. You know this…click my name for an example.

      1. The purpose of the place is to win hearts and minds.

        They’re just lost right now, forgot which way was up.

    4. Enjoy Peter Suderman arguing that cutting $1.022 trillion in spending, $772 billion of it from the Medicaid program that ObamaCare expanded, is more or less just like ObamaCare and should be opposed.…

    5. I saw them focus on what Paul Ryan just did, and contrasted it with his words years ago when the budget caps were put in place.

      For the sake of argument, let’s grant that Reason was awful and hypocritical to not praise the AHCA.

      Even if Ryan had succeeded in passing that bill, the 10 years costs of this bill are estimated to be 2x the savings of the AHCA. So even if Ryan had gotten his way on that bill, this one would put him in a net negative position relative to the baseline at the start of this session. If you add in the impact of the tax bill, Ryan and Co. would have added around $3 trillion net to the debt above the baseline in the next 10 years. Not exactly worthy of praise whether or not he got the AHCA passed, regardless of your position on it.

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  2. fuck you cut spending

  3. Ryan is the Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie of the republican congressional caucus.

    A liar. A fraud. A con artist. A charlatan. You get the picture.

    1. And of course you’re not going to mention that your boy Trump gleefully signed this bill.

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  5. Interest on the debt (which must be paid) along with Social Security, Medicare and the military industrial security surveillance intelligence complex, consume over 100% of federal revenues. Without making DRASTIC cuts to those programs, nothing else matters.

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