Why Paul Ryan excites conservatives
On the floor of the House last night, the incoming House budget committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R.-Wisc.) systematically dismantled the arguments against the tax agreement. It's worth watching.
Ryan's arguments were addressed to both the left and the hard right. He reminded those on the left:
I'm hearing some of my colleagues from the other side of the aisle saying "We just can't afford these tax cuts." Only in Washington is not raising taxes on people considered a "tax cut". What we're talking about here is not cutting taxes; we're talking about keeping taxes where they are and preventing tax increases.
Second point: "We - meaning the government - can't afford this?" Whose money is this after all? Is all the money that is made in America Washington's money, government's money? Or is it the people's money who earned it? I hear all this talk about the death tax, the estate tax: "This is going to give a windfall to these people. All this money going to these privileged people who have built these businesses, made all this money." It's their money!
And to conservatives who find a deal cut with a liberal president less than ideal, Ryan reminded them that this is the beginning, not the end:
Let's cut the spending next year when were in charge. There is junk in the tax code, everybody agrees with this. This is advancing some of the junk in the tax code and what I say to my friends on the other side of the aisle next year: let's get rid of the junk in the tax code when are in charge. Right now - let's not hit the American people with a massive tax increase.
If we want to get this debt under control, if we want to get our deficit going down, there are two things we need to be doing: we need to cut spending and we need to grow the economy. We need prosperity in the country. We need job creation. We need people going from collecting unemployment to having a job and paying taxes.
Either innocently or for partisan advantage, the few Republican lawmakers opposed to the bill and the talk show critics railing against another "sell out" created a strawman argument, complaining this wasn't a "growth bill." Of course not, replied Ryan:
It's only a two year extension [of current tax rates]. We're not talking about a pro-growth economic package. We're talking about preventing a destructive economic package from being inflicted on the American people in about two weeks. The last thing you want to do is put more uncertainty in the economy, hit the economy with a huge tax increase, trigger a stock market sell-off and lose jobs. So do we want to make these permanent? You bet we do and that is exactly what we are going to be advancing.
Ryan is among the most articulate spokesmen for the principled conservative lawmakers who are serious about moving the agenda, not just their careers, in the right direction. You can understand why many conservatives are hoping he'll run in 2012.
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