The budget outline unveiled by Paul Ryan today proposes to balance the federal budget in ten years by imposing drastic cuts on every area except the military. It would also lower the top income tax rate from 39.6% to 25%, a very nice tax cut for people in the higher income brackets. As before, it proposes making Medicare into a "premium support" program and raising the eligibility age to 67. The full proposal is available online at

Ryan's proposal is missing a lot of numbers and consequently does not constitute a real budget. Rather, it is a rallying point for GOP House members as well as a line in the sand for future negotiations on a compromise budget with the Senate. It also serves an intermediate purpose: House members of the Tea Party persuasion may be convinced to support a compromise that avoids a government shutdown at the end of March—if they can be convinced that a real budget fight will take place later on.

The conservative element of the party it itching for a budget showdown with Obama and the Democrats to salve their election wounds, but at this point that would be  dangerous for the party since it implies a shutdown, so it needs to be postponed a bit. However, the Tea Party needs a big win to campaign on and will push for drastic budget cuts for the next fiscal year.

Beyond the obvious difficulties in making drastic cuts for even the next fiscal year lies the Consitutional question of whether one Congress can even commit future Congresses to budget provisions.

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I don't know who the hell Ryan thinks he's kidding ... but he sure as hell ain't kidding me.

The Tea Party people want a knock-down drag-out budget fight with President Obama and are ready to shut the government down to win it. The government shutdowns in the Clinton years engineered by Gingrich were disasters for Republicans, and the present House leadership would like to avoid a repeat. So they are promising a championship budget match—winner take all—but over the next fiscal year's budget and without a government shutdown. It isn't going to work in all likelihood, but the Tea Party is mad as hell about the election and it will be hard to pacify them this time around.

This morning the new senator from Texas Ted Cruz has introduced an amendment to the continuing resolution that would defund Obamacare completely or else kill the entire bill and cause a government shutdown. Obviously the  Ryan budget proposal yesterday was not enough fo the Tea Party. They do not want to wait any longer for a big battle with Obama. They are ready to ignore the fact that the last government shutdown, during the Clinton administration, hurt the GOP. The Tea Party is saying, "You do what we want or you won't even have a government." Unbridled arrogance.

It certainly looks like unbridled arrogance, but given the Republican Party's half-century-long demand for purity of belief, it's functioning as an unbridled death wish.

After its first six or so years of expelling moderates, the Party went south and replaced their losses with Dems whose forefathers had owned slaves. It was called Nixon's southern strategy.

In a 1974 Arizona Repub primary, I challenged the incumbent legislator and my co-workers teased me with "The moderate Republican in Phoenix is a lonely man." I was too busy talking with voters to be lonely. I lost but it was an education like no other.

When Reagan replaced the Party's continuing losses with evangelicals, I remembered too well the Catholicism I had quit decades earlier and resolved to never vote Repub again. I became, and still am, a Dem activist. When the Greens start entering local races, I will join them.

Ryan seems unable to leave his Ayn Rand fantasy world. Ted Cruz sounds like an echo of Joe McCarthy. If the Dems lose anytime soon, it will be the result of serious blunders.

Given the choice I have between Dem corruption and Repub corruption, I'll take the Dem version.

Senator Cruz's amendment failed, but now Republican senators are adding gun protection measures to the continuing resolution, hoping that to keep the government running the Democrats will have to agree to measures that undercut the bipartisan gun control bill being written now.

You see, it's not about the budget at all, it's simply political games.


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