Paul Ryan embraces Failure Theater on the budget deal

Wow. What a difference only a few hours makes. Just yesterday afternoon, prospective-future-Speaker-of-the-House Paul Ryan was all up in the air over the budget deal:

Paul Ryan blasted Speaker [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ], Senate leadership and the White House for cutting a budget deal behind closed doors, saying the “process stinks.”

Ryan said he hasn’t gone through the agreement, which was posted last night.

“This is not the way to do the people’s business,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “And under new management we are not going to do the people’s business this way. We are up against a deadline – that’s unfortunate. But going forward we can’t do the people’s business. As a conference we should’ve been meeting months ago to discuss these things to have a unified strategy going forward.”

At the time I speculated whether this was real or simply a warmu-up to Failure Theater. Now we have our answer:

After sharply criticizing how it came together, Wisconsin [mc_name name=’Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000570′ ] announced he would support the budget deal Wednesday.

“What I’ve heard from members over the last two weeks is a desire to wipe the slate clean, put in place a process that builds trust, and start focusing on big ideas,” Ryan said in a statement. “What has been produced will go a long way toward relieving the uncertainty hanging over us, and that’s why I intend to support it. It’s time for us to turn the page on the last few years and get to work on a bold agenda that we can take to the American people.”

This budget “deal” represents nothing more that making a deal for the sake of making a deal. It is the triumph of process over outcome. We negotiated with ourselves. We gave Obama what he wanted and needed and we got an “deal.” As Ben Domenech says in The Transom:

That deal, keep in mind, is an inherent lie – it includes cuts that will never happen, along the lines of an NFL contract with 50 million socked away in an unguaranteed final year for appearances.  “Nearly half of those offsets (including new revenues) are not realized until 2025—the last year of the budget window. Between this Boehner-Obama deal and the Ryan-Murray spending agreement of 2013 (the last time Congress revisited the discretionary spending caps), Congress has increased spending by a total of 143 billion dollars before 2021 (the period covered by the Budget Control Act) paid for with 98 billion in savings not realized until after 2021.”

Even worse, there’s no reason this deal had to happen. The Boehner-Obama deal is a disaster for Republicans.  It’s a classic spend more now and promise to spend less in the future deal with virtually nothing good in it. No shutdown was imminent, nor was any real default, and 61 percent of Americans were opposed to a debt limit hike or wanted it tied to spending cuts.  So of course the White House wants to slam it through.  Of course, John Boehner promised that there would be no more backroom deals, and that you’d get at least three days of a public bill before voting – a shame that he would literally violate his Pledge to America on the way out the door.

It was a useful talking point to say that the Budget Caps were John Boehner’s legacy, even though we all know he was extremely reluctant to put them forward. But busting the caps to this degree with no real pay-fors, when you’re not up against a government shutdown or a default, is now his legacy and the legacy of his tenure: a period of total surrender by Republican leadership on fiscal issues. Voting for this deal says that you are in favor of bigger government and more spending.  There is no getting around that.

This is a very inauspicious beginning for Paul Ryan and the House Freedom Caucus would be completely justified in telling him that he has violated any trust that existed beforehand and from this point on he is on his own.