The Depressing Budget Farce

 

It becomes difficult, at some point, to maintain a given level of outrage. Being angry for a prolonged period of time is exhausting and it makes you a tiresome person, even to yourself. It’s especially difficult when you are watching a given farce unfold, when you knew how it would end from the moment it began. In such circumstances, anger eventually gives way to depression.

So it is with the ongoing budget farce and its concomitant effect on the GOP Congressional leadership race. I want to like Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House, if only because I don’t see a reasonable alternative, among the people who have declared an interest in running. And I don’t want to think that Ryan might actually be worse than Boehner and encourage everyone to call their Representative and oppose him, especially given that such an effort would likely be futile.

But good Lord, Ryan is making it hard to believe that anything is occurring here other than a reshuffling of the deck chairs on the Titanic. When Boehner announced the budget deal yesterday and uproariously declared that “no member of Congress had any reason to oppose it,” it was given that Paul Ryan would make a pretense of opposing it while secretly being happy that the deal would remove a major headache from his first term as Speaker.

Now, it turns out that Boehner’s budget deal is so unpopular that Ryan is not even going to be allowed the fig leaf of pretending to oppose the deal. As my colleague streiff has reported, flagging support for the deal means that Ryan himself has to publicly support it and vote for it. Ryan’s statement on his decision is one of the most bizarre things you will ever read:

WASHINGTON (AP) — [mc_name name=’Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000570′ ] – expected to be the next House speaker – says he’ll vote for a bipartisan budget bill even though he thinks the process that produced the measure “stinks.”

* * *

Still, Ryan is unhappy with the secretive, top-level process, and says he’ll operate differently as speaker.

There is no reason whatsoever that literally anyone should believe this statement. If Ryan wants us to believe that a) he dislikes the process that brought this budget deal about and b) things will be different when he is the speaker, then he has a very simple course of action: torpedo the deal and let it die until he becomes Speaker. Then, things can be done differently and he can show us how he will be different as Speaker.

The fact that he’s unwilling to do this is a pretty good indication that secretly, Ryan has no problem with the process that was used as long as it ends up with a result that doesn’t force another DC-manufactured crisis. In other words, Ryan is just as dedicated to the Boehner approach of saving Republican seats at the cost of advancing a conservative agenda as Boehner was, if not more so.

It’s infuriating, or at least it would be if we hadn’t seen this same thing happen so many times before. At this point, it’s mostly just depressing.